This looks just like the one I saw, only closer! Yes, it finally happened! I saw a penguin! It was a cute little Adelie that was not too fond of having it's picture taken. It waddled away before I could get a picture. At least I could say now that I saw one! We just had to try tobogganing like the penguins! Mandy said it's not as easy as they make it look!
We went out on a 2 hour piston bully ride yesterday to Cape Evans Ice Wall to try and collect a few adult borks. It was a nice sunny day, but the wind was sure blowing. The dive huts have been pulled already. As the temperature of the ice gradually warms through the season, it becomes weaker. It has gotten to a point that it won't be safe long for the big Challenger tractors to come out on the ice, so they have started pulling the diving huts back to shore. That meant...no hut or diving hole for us. We brought out a "Jiffy Drill." It is kind of a fun machine to operate. You start it up with a pull cord, just like many other small machines. Then you attach the drill bit. I would guess that it is about ten or twelve inches diameter. It has sections(flights) of bit that you can add as you go to make it longer. We needed three flights for one of the holes. We were at first trying to drill near the cracks, as that's were the fish we were looking for like to hang out.
We finished drilling and dropped our lines in the water ...just below the ice, and waited. Nothing was biting. So, Dr. Todgham changed our strategy. We dropped our lines to the sea floor and began to fish for a different benthic species- T. Newsonii. Dr. Todgham caught two in rapid succession. By the time my line hit the bottom, I too had a bite. I quickly flicked my wrist to set the hook and reeled it in. We are using barbless hooks so we don't injure the fish. Once clear of the water, I had to get him immediately into our cooler of water, or he would freeze. They can handle 28 degrees, but the air temperature was much colder- especially with the wind chill. No time for fish on a line pictures!
Dr. Todgham helped me get the hook out of his mouth. My fingers were frozen and didn't seem to be working right, so I really appreciated her help. You could tell she has done way more ice fishing than me! I dropped the lure back in, and another was on the line even before it hit the bottom. We kept at it until we had all the adults that we needed to do the study. It really made an impression on me the importance of being flexible with science protocols. The day could have been a bust- no Borks were biting. But with a change in strategy, Dr. Todgham took advantage of the opportunity to use a different related species. The team will try again on another day to find the other species. But, until then, work will continue on these T. newsonii.
Lasers in Space!!!
Amy Osborne and I were fortunate enough to be invited to visit the LIDOS lab up at arrival heights yesterday evening. Thank you CiCi for the amazing tour! Cici has a PhD in electrical engineering and is also one of the nicest people you could meet. She was able to explain their work in a way that I could mostly follow. As I understand it, the project uses different laser beams to analyze the iron and sodium in our upper atmosphere. These particles are remnants of meteors that have burned up on entry. They use the laser beam to raise the energy level of the electrons of the iron, then record it as it falls back to it's normal energy level. It is a very high tech way to measure the temperature 90 thousand feet above the Earth. They use a different wavelength laser to do a similar procedure with sodium. It uses the doppler effect somehow to monitor the sodium. They get a lot more information from analyzing the feedback from these lasers, but that's where she lost me.
They have an amazing amount of sophisticated equipment in a very small space that they share with New Zealand. CiCi and her co-worker alternate twelve hour shifts monitoring the equipment. Seeing the laser beams and all the equipment was quite an impressive sight. Just like the hand held laser pointers, you definitely have to be careful not to expose your eyes to some of the wavelengths.
As an added bonus, the views from Arrival Heights were spectacular.
You can even see far off Cape evans...by the islands, where we did our fishing that morning.
I can't believe I only have one more full day here! I'm planning on making the best of it!