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13 December, 2000

Here you can see we have the flying FPT on the roof of SPARCLE central to see how long the battery will allow for recording data and to check that the device is taking good data. If everything works as planned then we will make our first flight tomorrow.

It is amazing how long it takes to make sure that everything fits correctly and to make sure that all the wires and connectors are in working condition. Von discovered that one of the connectors on this instrument was shorting the device and he had to spend some time fixing the connectors so that we could get a reliable signal.

As the day moved on Von began to prepare for our first tethered Blimp flight! We are scheduled to fly a FPH and a air pressure sensor tomorrow and the plan after lunch was to prep the instrument and the box for flying.

The finished product! All we need to do is set the Polycorder and close the lid. It is hard to believe that we can actually pack all these wires and the instrument into such a small, 8" x 10" x 12", box.

Even the ARO building which is only 250 meters away seems to float in a gray space. It was very hard to walk back and forth between buildings today. The lack of contrast made it near to impossible to judge depth even when walking. It is amazing how dependent we are on the contrast provided be the sun to help us define depth. The conditions today are perfect for flying the HYVIS. Unfortunately we are not quite up an running with it yet. In another couple of days even that instrument will be running and we will be fully operational.

After a week of clear, sunny weather we have gotten a bit of fog or ground hugging cloud. It has even been trying to snow off and on today. Very unusual for the Pole, especially in summer. The image is rather dark and gray, just like it really is here today. It is almost spooky since there is essentially no reference and no contrast between surface and sky. It is easy to see how you could get disoriented if you were flying under such conditions. In this image you can barley see the Dome, which is about 600 meters from the SPARCLE front door.

Not everything that we do here at the South Pole is serious research. Sometimes we actually have fun with projects that other people have brought to the Ice as research projects. The Ice Bike is one of the projects that most folks just have fun with. This bike was designed as part of one of the CARA grants last year. The bike was pretty much a failure in its design, but it sure has gotten a lot of use by the residents of the station. What you might find interesting is that even though a standard Mountain Bike is not designed for this environment they actually work well and several of the long term residents have their bikes here.

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