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9 December, 2002

9 December, 2002

Sunday at the pole. No breakfast, but brunch starting at 10:30. Needless to say, I was up & working at the computer anyway by 4:30, uploading movies and processing images and writing journals. Packing up, I spilled my entire liter water bottle on my bed. I walked back to check it about 3 hours later, while some long uploads were working, and Presto! Totally dry! It's hard to describe how dry it is here. All the computer desks are edged with silvery aluminum tape, grounded, to prevent static electricity buildup.

I ran the camcorder in timelapse mode for the first time, and got some pretty cool little movies. I hope you're checking them out on my drachen site.

After brunch, Steffan & I went kite flying. Steffan has wintered over twice already, and is here to winter over again this year. He was actually planning on building a kite aerial photography rig, so I was a lucky visitor to the pole for him. Yesterday, he saw us flying over at SPASE, and came over to check it out. We struck up a good conversation, and made plans to try some KAPing after brunch.

We got the big Flowform kite up pretty easily, and took pictures for 45 minutes. The rig was not steering well, and was sort of frustrating. The cold seems to really punish the servos and make them unresponsive, and kills the batteries powering the servos as well, but I shot as many pictures as I could.

Then we tied the kite off and came inside to look. Well, the Olympus camera died (Jim). It got dropped on the lens a few days before I left, and some itsy bitsy parts came loose. I took them out of the camera, and have managed to nurse it along until now (see the Observation Hill panoramic pictures on the drachen site), but it stopped being able to focus. Boo-Hoo !

Last resort, attach the camcorder to the rig, forget steering, just point it down and walk the kite around. But the big Flowform 30 wouldn't lift the camcorder, and we had to set up a tandem rig using the smaller Flowform 16. This was problematic for a while, as the winds 100 feet and 200 feet aloft were quite different. This caused the smaller kite to collapse repeatedly, until I repositioned it much closer to the bigger kite at the end of the line. But then, quite enough power to lift!

The camcorder battery did really well, and I shot about 45 minutes of video. Steffan and I were fairly exhausted, tramping around in the snow at -30 degrees, at 10,500 feet of altitude, pulling on that kite line.

When we could do no more, we rolled everything up and came inside. Surprise! The frame captures were great! Great pictures of the poles (ceremonial & true) and the dome. Mission accomplished. It takes for ever to move through that much video, frame by frame, but you CAN precisely find the best moments.

Bai was stalled out, waiting for advice from his experts. So we didn't accomplish much on the tank problems today. It's also possible that the PMTs need much more time in total darkness to "settle down," and Bai walk out to SPASE and saw some slight improvement in signal which made him slightly hopeful.

The barber came up from McMurdo for a few days, so I got my hair cut in the evening. A South Pole haircut! Stylin'!

A closeup of the side of the dome at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. Notice that although the snow is quite deep, the wind has scoured out the snow near the dome. There's a big dangerous dropoff here for an unwary pedestrian.

This shows the relationship between the dome entrance and the dome itself. The entrance was originally constructed at snow level, but is now blanketed with drifting snow 30 or 40 feet deep.

Look at the shadows ! This is a Japanese film crew shooting at the pole. That little dark pole down & to the left of the flag is a marker that was set last January 1st. The ice drifts about 30 feet per year, so a new marker is set every year. Based on the positions of the previous year's markers, it looks to me like the edge of the dome will sit on the pole in about 30 years. The pole with the flags and the mirror ball is the "ceremonial" pole. It's placed unfortunately close to a big fuel hose.

The flag on the dome, as seen from a kite. Seeing this picture for the first time was very exciting for me. I've been working on this kite aerial photography project for a year and a half, with no expectations I could pull it off in a place this cold.

Those people look like ants.

That's me at the ceremonial South Pole (or least, within spittin' distance of it). All these pictures were frame captured from a Sony digital camcorder.

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