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.


October 29, 2002 17:30 (NZ)

I've spent the last day and a half in the New Zealand city of Christchurch. It has a beautiful downtown and much of city has a very British feel. I had a chance to explore this morning; I checked out the botanical gardens and the Arts Center. We had beautiful Spring weather today. The trees and flowers are in bloom and everything is very lush. I also found an internet cafe in the Arts Center where they let me plug in my laptop and get some work done.

In the afternoon I reported to the Clothing Distribution Center (CDC) to try on my Extreme Cold Weather (ECW) gear. As with any government program, everything is an acronym :-) After trying on everything to make sure it fits, we repacked it all until our flight tomorrow. I also learned that the aircraft we'll be taking down to McMurdo is a C-141 (jet powered) instead of a C-130 (prop powered). This means that we'll make the journey in 4.5 hours instead of 11. Needless to say, everyone is happy about that. There will also only be 10 people on our flight (plus cargo), which is an unusually small number. Our flight tomorrow is scheduled for 10:00am with check in at 7:30am. With any luck, I'll be in McMurdo tomorrow afternoon...

On my Way

October 26, 2002 16:30 (PDT)

Well, I'm finally on my way... My feelings are a mix of excitement to be going to Antarctica and sadness to be leaving Erin for so long. I'm actually in the second "wave" of people going to the Ice for our experiment. An earlier group departed a week ago and is already down there.

We've heard from them that there have been some delays at McMurdo that may slow us down. The building (known as the balloon barn) where we'll be setting up the Boomerang telescope is apparently under some form of "construction". This could potentially delay us 5 days, which would be a royal pain. Our team members down there have not yet been able to open the shipping crates to check for any damage to the cryostat or other equipment. More news when I get to New Zealand...

Boomerang is on its Way

September 24, 2002 11:06 (PDT)

This morning the flatbed, air-ride truck came to pick up our three crates. The heaviest crate weighs about 6000 pounds, but we rented a large forklift that had no problem handling the weight. From here the crates will travel to Port Hueneme (about an hour to the south) where they will be unloaded an weighed. Then they will be loaded on a C-141 military cargo plane and travel to Christchurch, New Zealand. From there they are flown to McMurdo Base in Antarctica. In about a month I will follow a similar route to get to Antarctica. For now, we have to get the remaining stuff in the lab ready to ship to Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. After that I get a little vacation :-)

Almost Finished

September 23, 2002 08:20 (PDT)

The past couple of days have been a constant stream of packing. We are nearly finished! Today we will pack up our third and final crate (which is supposed to be delivered around lunchtime). The guy who is making it is a bit of a space cadet, so hopefully he'll actually show up with the crate- otherwise we'll be doing a late night HomeDepot run... It's going to be really good to have a vacation soon.

Cryostat Packing

September 19, 2002 17:10 (PDT)

Today we managed to get the cryostat packed in it's wooden crate. We placed supports inside to stabilize the liquid nitrogen and liquid helium tanks (normally they are suspended by kevlar string, to minimize thermal conduction between them). We also put supports in to help our closed cycle 3He refrigerator stay in one piece. Our packing is going ahead of schedule so far, since the truck doesn't come until Tuesday (today is Thursday).

Cryostat Preparations

September 18, 2002 15:37 (PDT)

Today Tom and I opened up the cryostat and removed the "receiver" (The detector system, cold electronics, and secondary optics). We then flushed the inside of the cryostat with nitrogen gas. Eric made some new windows for the cryostat and Tom continued testing some replacement electronics in a vacuum chamber. Lots of paperwork today- ordering stuff, finalizing arrangements for transfer of my stipend to Case Western Reserve University... Tomorrow we start packing the cryostat.

More Packing

September 17, 2002 16:30 (PDT)

Spent most of today cleaning up tools and little stuff around the lab. We've been trying to figure out if everything will fit in the crates that we have. In the worst case, we'll have to run to Home Depot on Sunday and build another crate. The truck comes in exactly one week. Tom is setting up for a final test of the readout electronics inside a vacuum chamber (to simulate conditions when our telescope is at 120,000ft), and I've been doing some final analysis from the last test run. The inside of the cryostat is at room temperature now, so we will open it up tomorrow. We went from 2K (-456 degrees F) to 295K (72 degrees F) in 48 hours.

The Packing Begins

September 16, 2002 17:04 (PDT)

Today we started packing stuff to go to Antarctica. We managed to nearly fill one of our sea containers (the large yellow boxes in the photos) with equipment. We are in the process of "warming up" our cryostat so that we can take it apart and prepare it for shipping. We've also been doing some last minute purchasing of spare parts to take with us.

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