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24 June, 2000

What a great welcome! I got off the plane to see Von holding a sign that said, "Rick Jones - South Pole or Bust" I feel like part of the team and I have only just started to meet them. Steve Warren is in Alaska working on another project but the majority of the team: Mike Town (graduate student), Penny Rowe (graduate student), Von Walden (Co-PI), and Rich Brandt (research meteorologist and tech support extroidinaire) are here at the University of Washington. As soon as we got to the Atmospheric Science Building we got started working on the equipment. The first device was the PAERI or (Polar Atmospheric Emitted Radiance Interferometer) This machine has both "cold" and "hot" Blackbodies that it uses as a reference to measure background infrared from the sky above the Antarctic plateau. The machine is so sensitive it can differentiate between water vapor, ice, and other gases in the atmosphere just by reading the reflection of longwave radiation from the atmosphere. It seems that in the packing and shipping some calibration was lost so Von and Mike are getting it ready to go up on the roof tomorrow for a real test. I am a little overwhelmed by all the activity, the energy level of everyone, and the intellect that seems to flow between the members of the team. I only hope that I can become a useful addition to such a dynamic group. While I have been watching Von and Mike work on the PAERI and discuss some of the anomalous readings, Penny has been contacting various scientific suppliers around the campus trying to line up needed supplies for the research season. In a couple of days the team will "breakdown" the PAERI and build the SPT (South Pole Transmissometer) a horizontal atmospheric measuring device that uses a 10 inch telescope and retroreflectors to send the infrared beam about 1 km across the Antarctic Plateau. After a long day of learning the equipment we headed over to Steve's House for a break and then on to a an eating adventure in Seattle. Something that I wouldn't normally find in old Billings.

Here the is the cast of characters from Seattle: Left to Right Rich, Polly, Mike, and Von gathered around some of the equipment we will be using at the Pole.

Polly, Von and Mike take the PAERI up on the roof of the Atmospheric Sciences Building at U of W to calibrate the machine using a "real data set".

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