January 4, 2010 Tour of Crary Science and Engineering Center
The DOM team is beginning to close up our Antarctic science lab for winter, as we get ready to depart this beautiful continent in just four days. Heidi and I compiled lists of all the Cotton Glacier and Canada Glacier water samples. Heidi, Mike, and Collin are carefully packaging up samples for shipment back to Montana State and Ohio State Universities for further testing. I am making sure all borrowed equipment returns to the correct department around McMurdo- science stuff to the Crary Supply Center and camping and field gear to the Berg Field Center. It is a bit of a bittersweet time- I think all of the remaining DOM team members are excited to return to our homes, but sad to end this experience.
I realized that although I have well over a month of my Antarctic time at McMurdo Station I have not yet introduced you to many of the places around town. I do not think I have a chance to give you the full tour, but at least I can show you a couple of the places where I spend a lot of my time. Today, let me introduce you to the Crary Science and Engineering Center, or Crary Lab as I think I often write about it. All buildings in McMurdo have numbers associated with them, just like houses have an address attached to them. The Crary Lab is building number 1. It is the hub of all United States Antarctic Program/National Science Foundation science based out of McMurdo. There are lab rooms, a library, an aquarium, huge walk-in freezers and refrigerators, classrooms, meeting rooms, and the list of facilities within Crary goes on and on. Holly, Deke, and Brody, our Information Technology (IT) gurus, work their brilliance over computers and other technical bits and bobs from Crary. There is a science supply room to check out almost any conceivable piece of science equipment. One of the most fascinating aspects of Crary is that many of the sections of the building are modular- if you need a larger lab space the support staff at Crary can remove wall sections and shift around counter space pretty easily. A very brilliant design for a space that sees new demands from different research projects every year.
There are three "Phases" or levels to Crary. Phase I houses many of the biological lab spaces, offices for visiting science teams, the Science Supply Center, and offices for the Crary Support Staff (all amazing, patient, and very helpful people- THANKS!) There is a top floor to Phase I, too, where there is a small library, a conference room, and other meeting spaces, as well as the most beautiful view of McMurdo Sound and the mountain ranges. (I wanted to take a photo of this for you today, but the snow whitened out my view.)
Phase II is where I spend a lot of time getting computer help from the IT guys. Also in Phase II are most of the Earth Science facilities for the geologists, volcanologists, paleontologists, and others looking at the physical wonders of this continent. This season, joining the Earth Scientists in Phase II is a crew from the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) who are down here filming all over Antarctica for a new BBC/Discovery series called Frozen Planet.
Phase III of Crary is the Aquarium. There is a touch tank of Antarctic seastars, sea urchins, flatworms, isopods, crustaceans, and other local marine invertebrates. I visit the animals of the touch tank almost everyday- they remind me of the tidepool animals that live along the shore of Whidbey Island.