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19 December, 2002

Arrived at Site 3

Date: 12/19/02

Latitude: 85° 00’ 01.57” S

Longitude: 104° 59’ 42.57” W

Time of Observations: 10:00 PM local time

Temperature: -24 C / -11.2 F

Wind speed: 7 knots

Wind Chill: -33.2 C/ -27.8 F

Wind direction: Northeasterly

Meters of ice collected: 308 m

By Dan Dixon

After a well-earned, stationary night’s rest, we set off again for Site 3 at 6:00 am this morning. The updated route worked like a charm and we didn’t get stuck once (although there were a few sticky moments!). Susan and Dan collected surface snow samples every 50 km to add to the Byrd to Pole surface snow chemistry profile and Gordon collected continuous shallow radar profiles for the entire trip. The weather has been playing some odd games; there are thick diamond dust clouds surrounding us, the wind has dropped to almost nothing, and the temperature is dropping fast. Thanks to the diamond dust we have only been able to catch fleeting glimpses of the massive Transantarctic Mountain range that surrounds us. Hopefully, the clouds will clear at site three and we will be able to view the scenery in all its splendor. The diamond dust also causes some problems with the Challengers; the dust is so fine that it sticks to the air intake grilles at the front of the tractors. After ten or fifteen minutes the dust builds up an impermeable barrier and the engines start to overheat. To overcome this problem we must stop regularly (before the dust has a chance to build up) and brush off the grilles; this slows us down considerably. We had a worrying moment during the trip early this morning; some large, linear features were spotted crossing our path about 500 m ahead. At first we thought the features were crevasses, but as we inched closer we discovered that the features were in fact large sastrugi aligned at an opportune angle so that the sun highlighted them perfectly. We were all very relieved.

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