6 December, 1996
Today should be our last full day here at the South Pole. We worked on some of the software and packed up our remaining equipment for shipment back to the states. We were scheduled to leave tomorrow,
then the flight was changed to tonight. Then a flight had to turn back to McMurdo because of an engine failure. So now we are scheduled for tomorrow again depending upon the weather. The temperature right now is -24 with a wind chill of -54. Some of the construction workers were expressing their frustration with the pace of their work. It seems everything takes so much longer to finish here. The materials don't respond the same way they would at warmer temperatures. Some plastics and materials like neoprene and rubber degrade very quickly at these temperatures. Concrete and cement mixtures are difficult if not impossible to work with. Using hand tools and doing carpentry
work is difficult because of the bulky clothing and gloves, but then they also find if they take the gloves off to work their hands get cold very quickly making it difficult to continue. Many gaskets and valves are made of materials that also degrade very quickly. We created a new cover for a dewar that holds liquid nitrogen for our instrument. The standard neoprene jacket was breaking down. The water was turned off in the dome for a portion of the day, and will be off for some time tomorrow because of new plumbing that is being
installed under the dome. The south pole is very busy with both science and construction right now. I visited the greenhouse today. There is a hydroponic greenhouse inside the dome. They grow many
fresh vegetables and herbs that are used in the salads and breads. Many of the winter over crew say that sometimes they like to work in the greenhouse, just to be around green plants.
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