Skip to main content

December 15, 2012 Working

At the South Pole, the typical work week goes from Monday through Saturday. Sunday is usually the day off. Last week, I got here on a Saturday around lunch time so I didn't have to work that day, which was good because the altitude here means that people really need to take it easy for the first couple days. So, Saturday and Sunday were my rest days and then, on Monday, I began working.

The week started with a tour of the IceCube building (the ICL) so that I could get acquainted with everything that's there.

the ICL building
The ICL building. This is where all of the data is collected from the IceCube sensors before it's sent north. Photo courtesy of Nils Irland.

After that, I helped out various people with various things. This was a big week because the plan was to move the drill from in front of the ICL (which is about 1km away from the South Pole Station) to a site called ARA-2 (which is about 5 km away and in the middle of nowhere). ARA-2 is the one of 37 planned stations that will make up ARA. Each station will have 6 holes and between every three stations, there will be a wind turbine. (Geometry question: do you think it would be better to have the wind turbine at the circumcenter of the triangle formed by the stations or at the incenter? Why?)

a wind turbine
A wind turbine at the ICL.

Because of the move, there was a lot to do this week. The drill team was busy testing out their drilling equipment and techniques. (More about this in an upcoming post). So, I did what I could to help out and to learn about the work.

Here are some of the things I did this week:

  • hooked up antennae so they could be tested
Antenna
An antenna that will be going into one of the holes we've drilled.
  • helped build a door for the control room for the drill
A door!
The door for the room with the DCC. It's been modified a little since then but this is pretty much what it looks like.
Automatic door closer
This is one of the niftiest things I've seen. It's a weight on a string that will automatically pull the door shut. Thomas made this although he says it wasn't his idea. Still pretty cool, though.
  • helped replace a part on one of the heaters
Dave and the heaters
Dave and the heaters. This isn't the person I helped or the heater that I worked on but it's a better picture than I could get of the part I helped change.
  • learned to check the instrumentation that needs to be checked while a hole is being drilled. (It has to be checked every 10 meters which is about once every 15 minutes, depending on the speed of the drill).
DCC
The DCC. This picture should look familiar.
  • taped cables onto the drilling rig so that they wouldn't be on the ground when the rig got moved
Taped cables
Cables, attached to the drill train.
  • made graphs using the data from drilling one of the test holes.
Me and Thomas working on computers
Me, making graphs in Excel and Thomas, debugging the program that logs the data from drilling. Photo courtesy of Terry Benson.

The drilling crew successfully drilled a 200m hole in front of the IceCube lab and so we go the go ahead to move to ARA-2. And that's a big enough story that it's going to get its own post.

Photos

the ICL building
a wind turbine
Antenna
A door!
Automatic door closer
Dave and the heaters
DCC
Taped cables
Me and Thomas working on computers

Details

Liz Ratliff's picture
Author: Liz Ratliff
Expedition: IceCube In Ice Antarctic Telescope 2012