Friday, February 3, 2012

The South Pole

Hey Sergeant, where you headed?  South Pole? Can I get a lift?


And that's absolutely NOT how it went down. I wish it was that easy. So, back to reality. I went to The South Pole to fill in, aka work, for people that were going on R&R. They are going to spend the winter at The Pole, so they left the continent to get some sun and fun before a long, cold, dark, and lonely winter; now back to me!


I made it. This was probably the last thing on my "to do" list for this adventure. I was almost....ALMOST, giddy with excitement. Right Levi?

See we're excited. He came down, uh over, with me....

Well you get the idea. It's 850 miles South of McMurdo. So here it is. Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station.

That's it. The "Mother Ship" In case you don't know which way is up, they remind you.

Yes, all roads truly lead North. While I'm on the flag thing, tell me if I'm crazy but I think they filmed the moon landing here.....for real!

Look and you tell me....

I don't know you tell me........

So, I was going to try to give some quick facts about the station, when I found this. The only thing that is incorrect is that there are over 200 people there right now...yeah technicality.


Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, January 2006. The new elevated station nears completion. In the foreground is the ceremonial South Pole and the flags for the original 12 signatory nations to Antarctic Treaty. (NSF/USAP photo.)
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Aurora boralis above the new elevated station at Amundsen-Scott South Pole StationNSF Special Report
U.S. South Pole Station: Supporting Science

Visit the South Pole webcam.
Read recent reports from South Pole Station, published in the Antarctic Sun.
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Americans have occupied the geographic South Pole continuously since November 1956. The station stands at an elevation of 2,835 meters (9,306 feet) on Antarctica's nearly featureless ice sheet, which is about 2,700 meters (9,000 feet) thick at that location. The station, which is 850 nautical miles south of McMurdo Station, is drifting with the ice sheet at about 10 meters (33 feet) each year.
Recorded temperature has varied between -13.6° C and -82.8° C. Annual mean is -49° C; monthly means vary from -28° C in December to -60° C in July. Average wind is 10.7 knots (12.3 miles per hour); peak gust recorded was 48 knots (55 miles per hour) in August 1989.
Snow accumulation is about 20 centimeters of snow (6-8 centimeters water equivalent) per year, with very low humidity.
The station's name honors Roald Amundsen and Robert F. Scott, who attained the South Pole in 1911 and 1912.
U.S. research stations at the geographic South Pole
The first station, built to support researchers during the International Geophysical Year, was begun in November 1956 and completed in February 1957. As interest in polar research increased, it became evident that a new design and a larger station was necessary.
In 1975 the central area of the station was rebuilt as a geodesic dome 50 meters wide and 16 meters high that, with 14- by 24-meter steel archways, covering modular buildings, fuel bladders, and equipment. Detached buildings housed instruments for monitoring the upper and lower atmosphere and for numerous and complex projects in astronomy and astrophysics. There is an emergency camp.
The dome facility was designed to house 18 science and support personnel during the winter and 33 during the austral summer. However, over the years, the facility's infrastructure and technology have exceeded its design and operational life. To augment the existing facility, a number of science and berthing structures were added in the 1990s, particularly for astronomy and astrophysics.
Aerial photo of the new elevated station at the geographic South Pole, taken in February 2009 by Henry Malmgren, NSF/USAP.

The old and new stations stand side by side. (NSF/USAP photo by Henry Malmgrem.)
In 1997, a redevelopment plan to upgrade the station began. The new station, which was dedicated in 2008, is one connected, elevated facility. To accommodate changes in population from winter to summer, certain areas can be closed.
Remote science facilities are being developed with small one- to two-story elevated buildings and are located away from the main station to minimize interference between necessary operations and science.
As part of the new station, the existing arches are being re-used for fuel storage, cargo, and waste management. New arches accommodate the garage shops and power plant. The benefits of elevated structures include reduced snow drifting, increased building life, diminished environmental impact, enhanced safety, maximized solar energy use, and more cost-effective construction.
Some 50 scientists and support personnel winter at the station, and up to 150 people work there during the summer. The station's winter personnel are isolated between mid-February and late October.
Support for science
The station has an Atmospheric Research Observatory, the Martin A. Pomerantz Observatory for astrophysics, and computer systems for research and communication including Internet access. It has collected the longest continuous set of meteorological data from Antarctica's vast interior ice plateau, and it is well located for studies of the cusp region of the magnetosphere. Astronomy and astrophysics have flourished in recent years, taking advantage of excellent optical properties of the atmosphere (resulting from its high elevation, low temperature, and low humidity) and, for neutrino detection, the extremely clear and homogeneous thick ice below. A small biomedical research facility is present. Other areas of interest include glaciology, geophysics and seismology, ocean and climate systems, astrophysics, astronomy, and biology and medicine .

Telescopes used for research at the South PoleTelescopes used for research at the South Pole. (NSF/USAP photo by Scot Jackson, Raytheon Polar Services Company.)

Well, I hope that was educational for everyone. The old Dome was destroyed recently, however the arched entry remains.

Here is a quick look at the lounge, gym, weight, cardio, and basketball court. The music room, which was open to use whenever you want. It had brand new instruments, amps, and other gear. Finally there is also a greenhouse inside that grows fresh lettuces and herbs. There is even an indoor climbing room.

The next cool, or I guess, cold thing were the tunnels.I got a very brief tour, which was enough due to the fact that it was -60 F at all times.

 These are the stairs leading down. There are like 90 steps down.

The hallway....

Door to "The Crypt"....

OK it's cold now...

This is the electric plant. Huge diesel engines create the electric for the whole station. There is also solar panels for assisting them.

So another film note: here is where they filmed Indiana Jones......

They really drug it out. The exit is at the other end. Duh....follow the sunlight dummy!

These buildings were actually designed to be underground shelters for aircraft, basically bomb shelters. Or in this case, snow shelters.

So, the two most exciting things were the South Pole Telescope, and the pictures at the pole(s).

The South Pole Telescope is......
The South Pole Telescope (SPT) is a 10 metre (394 in) diameter telescope located at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, Antarctica. It is a microwave/millimetre-wave telescope that observes in a frequency range between 70 and 300 GHz. The primary science goal for SPT is to conduct a survey to find several thousand clusters of galaxies, which should allow interesting constraints on the Dark Energy equation of state.[1]

more info at:

It was really quite awesome to see up close.

And last but not least, just a whole bunch of picture at The Ceremonial Pole. Which never moves, and The Geographic Pole which is actually at 90 degrees South.

 ...........Heisman pose....kinda......

Until Next Time...........

"Cooking on Ice"