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.

No Leaks

November 06, 2002 17:44 (NZ)

We have leak checked the cryostat and it is free of leaks! We will continue to vacuum pump on it overnight tonight, and tomorrow we will pre-cool the detectors to 77K. In the mean time, everyone has been working on various other projects related to the flight. Three of us have obtained permission to drive the red passenger vans, so that will hopefully make our evening work schedules more flexible. We heard a rumour that some penguins were spotted out by the sea-ice runway today, but they probably won't be out here until later in the season.

Cryostat is Closed

November 05, 2002 19:47 (NZ)

The cryostat is finally closed, and we have begun the process of evacuating the air inside. Tomorrow we will check the system for leaks. In the mean time, much work is being done on the gondola infrastructure. The weather today has been excellent- mostly clear skies and very little wind. Tom and I are going to try out our cross country skate skis this evening by skiing part of the way back to McMurdo. Tomorrow Francesco, Carrie, and I are going to "driving school" to get certified to drive the shuttle vans. This will allow us to have a van full of people working late without the need to arrange shuttles at odd hours (which is a pain).


November 04, 2002 10:15 (NZ)

Today the wind has picked up and the weather has turned to "condition 2". Condition 3 is considered normal weather, condition 2 is slightly worse with some travel restricted, and condition 1 is the worst with all travel prohibited. The visibility is down to less than 1/4 mile, and wind speeds are about 20mph. Today we received our liquid helium storage container. It has 3000 gallons that will last us the rest of the season. We have a 100 liter container that we will use to bring smaller quantities of liquid helium back to the balloon barn. We have heard that the galley out here at Willy Field will be opening soon, so that means we'll get something other than sandwiches for lunch.

We have continued to make slow and steady progress on getting the detector system and cryostat fully assembled. The gondola and flight control systems are also being gradually assembled and tested.

Electronics Debugging

November 03, 2002 14:17 (NZ)

Today we've spent much time debugging some wiring problems. Everything is (nearly) straightened out now. Carrie and Enzo mounted the flight control electronics onto the balloon gondola, and are now preparing the GPS antenna array. The pace is slow but so far there have not been any huge setbacks. It is slightly overcast today, and warmer than yesterday...

Evening Walk

November 02, 2002 22:53 (NZ)

Tonight I took a walk out to Robert Scott's hut, which is just outside McMurdo on a piece of land know as "Hut Point". The hut was built by Scott in 1902. The late night sun today is very beautiful- almost like a permanent sunset. The temperature outside is a balmy 15F.

Receiver Assembly Continues

November 02, 2002 11:08 (NZ)

The winds of last night have died down and we are back at work this morning. The temperature is slightly warmer today at 14F. We are nearly finished with the cryostat insert and will soon do an electrical check out before putting it into the cryostat. Silvia and Francesco fixed a leaky gasket in the tubing on top of the cryostat. John is working on mounting the warm electronics onto the dewar. It is pleasant in the balloon barn today- they have fixed the heater problems and also sealed a large (several inch) crack around the main door. It's amazing how much more can be accomplished when working in a warm room :-)

Storm Moving In

November 01, 2002 13:52 (NZ)

We've just been informed that a storm with 50mph winds is approaching. We have the choice to stay out here at Willy Field and possibly be stranded for a day or two (we have plenty of food and water), or to head back to McMurdo early. Given the fact that the heat has been flaky, we are opting to head back to the base...

Assembly Begins

November 01, 2002 11:23 (NZ)

This morning we've made good progress on the integration of our detectors, cold electronics, and secondary optics. By tomorrow we should have everything ready to go into the cryostat. The cryostat has been evacuated and checked for leaks, and everything looks good. Temperature today is around 0F. The building heat was off overnight, but seems to be working ok right now. This morning was clear and bright with beautiful views of the surrounding mountains, including Mount Erebus, which is the southernmost active volcano.

Finally Made It

October 31, 2002 09:48 (NZ)

After a 5 hour delay and a 5 hour flight, I made it to McMurdo last night. Checked into my dorm room (it's a quad, but there's only one other guy there now). Today I'm out at Williams (Willy) Field, which is the summer airfield out on the Ross Ice Shelf, approximately 7 miles from McMurdo. We brought the balloon gondola inside today. Silvia and Francesco are working on the cryostat, Andrea and Armando are working on the gondola pivot. Many others are working on the gondola, and I've been trying to fix up our server for printing and email. They are still working on getting the heat working in a consistent fashion inside the balloon barn. It's only 10F today, but it feels cold inside.

Short Delay

October 30, 2002 07:52 (NZ)

Our flight was delayed 4 hours this morning due to weather at McMurdo. Hopefully things will improve by later in the day...

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