Saturday, January 12, 2013

No Flight today... but a silver lining

Got up and grabbed breakfast bright and early again today, only to get the 7am call that our mission was not selected for today's flights; once again, the decision was to try for the primary destination.  Of course, it was pretty foggy in McMurdo this morning so it was actually unlikely that anything could go.  And in the end, all of the on-ice missions were scrubbed, due to poor weather or mechanical problems.

So it's back to waiting- and unfortunately, the others are still waiting as well.  Added to that, tomorrow is Sunday and because most of the station gets Sunday off, that includes flight controllers so there's won't be any flying tomorrow either.

But there was a silver lining in the whole day.  About mid-morning I got a call from Roosevelt Island that they had found ice chips beginning to plug up the main borehole.  This happens when the cuttings left over from the drilling float to the surface of the drill fluid, and then solidify together into a solid mass.  I've experienced this before, at GRIP in Greenland.  So I needed to go around the station and come up with a tool that we could use to break up the plug- something I've referred to as a 'battering ram' since my first experience with it in 1996.  After some trudging around, I had a suitably mean-looking tool:

It's basically an ice-chipping hand tool that's used to clear ice from walkways and such around here; I've added some extra weight with 2 steel pipes scavenged from a dumpster, so that when we lower it into the borehole it will have some extra force behind it.  It's a great design, the 'stepped' front end allows all the force to be concentrated in a small area for hard ice, but then as penetration progresses it can clear a larger and larger area.  Hope it works!

The other thing I've been doing while waiting for this flight is working on data, and writing manuscripts that I hope to submit soon.  Fortunately laptops make this kind of work easy to bring with me anywhere, so that if I get stuck, I can still be productive...

Well, that's all for today.  Fingers crossed that Monday will be the day!


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