Ted's Boomerang 2002 Antarctic Web Log



Frequently Asked Questions

Current Mission Status: We Have Landed!

  • View all of the tracks of balloons launched so far this season at the N.S.B.F. website here. This is real-time data from the onboard GPS receivers.
  • If you have a computer that can view proprietary Micro$oft Windoze media formats (I don't), you can view a webcam broadcast of Willie Field here.
  • Here is some Antarctic news and weather from our newspaper, the Antarctic Sun.


The End

January 30, 2003 21:08 (NZ)


Well, I just finished my "bag drag", where I turned in all my checked baggage for my flight tomorrow. With any luck I'll be home in a few days. I wanted to say thank you to everyone reading this web log- your positive feedback over the past few months has made this whole venture more fun. In closing, I've posted a few pictures below from Phil Austin, who retrieved the data from our telescope. Take care, and goodbye! :-)


The Last Crate

January 29, 2003 18:42 (NZ)


Today I finished packing the last crate. All that is left to do is put the final shipping labels on the crates, which I will do in the morning. Last night a baby seal stopped by the barn on his journey across the ice shelf. I'm not sure what he's doing out here, since it's 8 miles to the nearest ice hole. Tomorrow night I have my "bag drag" which is where everyone turns in their checked baggage the night before a flight. I am scheduled to fly out of McMurdo on Friday, local time. I was thinking that I haven't really taken any pictures of the insides of the buildings in town, so maybe that will be my project for tomorrow...


Extracting the Data

January 28, 2003 10:10 (NZ)


Now that we have the flight computers back, we've been working on getting the data copied to other locations. Many of the cards attached to the computers were shaken loose during the landing, so we first tried to put these back together and see if the flight computers would boot up. One did and one didn't. Even the one that booted up had some issues, so in the end we decided to pull out the hard drives and install them in our server down here. This has worked well, and we are now copying the data from the flight computers onto our server. After that is finished, I'll make several more copies of the data just to be safe.


Data Recovered!

January 27, 2003 10:03 (NZ)


We have just heard that Phil Austin was successful in recovering the pressurized data vessel off of our telescope, and he should be returning from the South Pole this evening. It will take a couple days to back up the data to various locations, but it means that I should be able to leave on Friday :-)


Birthday

January 26, 2003 20:12 (NZ)


Today is my 27th birthday. I was hoping I might get some data as a gift, but there is still no word on how the recovery efforts are going at the South Pole. Today we finished sealing up all the crates that are going by ship, weighed them, and set them outside the barn to be picked up and taken to town. The only thing left to pack now is one of the crates that is going by air. This crate will contain the onboard computer once it is recovered. To celebrate my birthday, Francesco and I are going to the coffee house for a glass of wine tonight.


Final Packing

January 25, 2003 14:14 (NZ)


Francesco, Armando, and I have been working on sealing up the crates that contain all of our scientific equipment (except of course the items that are on the telescope still). Most of the crates will be placed on a cargo ship and sent back to their respective institutions. A few crates will make the trip by air. All the crates need to have itemized packing lists for customs purposes, and I've been working on this non-exciting task. With any luck, Phil Austin (our NSF/Raytheon point of contact) is on board a twin otter on his way to try and recover the data off the telescope. In order to save fuel, he is the only one going on that trip (besides the two pilots). Hopefully we'll hear soon whether or not he made it. My grandfather told me that I should write some more poems, so here is one I wrote while flying over the polar plateau, which is the most desolate place I have ever seen...

The Plateau

A snowflake,
Along with others caked
In to a tiny ridge upon a drift,
A texture which the wind will slowly sift,
Repeated in this land without a name,
A thousand miles in every way the same.
The wind a mournful call.
That is all.



Boomerang Located

January 23, 2003 19:02 (NZ)


Last night, Carrie and I were among the six passengers of a C-130 that made a 12 hour round trip reconaissance flight to the site where Boomerang landed. On the way out to the site, we stopped at the South Pole to refuel, and had enough time to get out and take pictures! I didn't really sleep on the plane, so now I've been up for 36 hours. Today we worked on packing and cleaning the barn. Our packing is done except for a few items that will be shipped by air (instead of boat). The reason for the urgency in packing is that tomorrow 3 of our team members (Carrie, Tom, and Brendan) will be going home. The expedition to go recover our data will hopefully get underway this weekend. Francesco and Armando will be staying until next Tuesday, and I'll be staying down here until the data comes back, and will then make backups and copies before shipping the onboard computer back to Toronto.


Flight Over

January 21, 2003 20:13 (NZ)


This evening our balloon flight was terminated via satellite. About 2000 feet before hitting ground, we lost contact with the payload using our main satellite connection (the TDRSS network of science satellites). NSBF attempted to detach the parachute by sending a command via the backup Iridium satellite transceiver onboard. There is no way to tell if this command succeeded. Even if the parachute does not detach, it will freeze to the ground if the winds are low enough at the landing site. Hopefully it will either detach or freeze stiff, so that it cannot catch the wind and drag the telescope across the polar plateau. Carrie and I have to report at 6:30am for the C-130 flight tomorrow, though it's doubtful that we can take off before later in the day. The weather here is still stormy with extremely high winds.


Dome Fuji

January 21, 2003 12:02 (NZ)


Since our balloon is getting further and further from McMurdo, a decision has been made to terminate the flight this evening via satellite command. The balloon is near a Japanese field location known as "Dome Fuji". The tentative plan is to send a twin otter out to recover the data, and then try to coordinate a recovery next year from the Japanese base on the coast. This would involve an overland traverse, and NSF representatives in Washington are still in the process of contacting the Japanese government.


Termination End Game

January 20, 2003 10:46 (NZ)


Today a storm has moved in, and it is condition 2 outside. It will take a considerable amount of time to clear the roads and runway after the storm clears, so Boomerang will most likely auto-terminate before then. We are currently at 66,000 feet, and dropping. The altimeter that controls the auto-termination has some margin of errror around 62,000 feet, so the flight could terminate at any time. All we can do at this point is to watch and wait...


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