Daily Antarctic Photo
© 2020 - Nathan Precup
Day 336, Oct. 11, 2020: Station manager Wayne White takes his daily 5 mile walk along the dark sector flag line amidst winds and blowing snow.
Day 318, Sept. 23, 2020: Enjoying the sunshine on a crisp evening.
Day 317, Sept. 22, 2020: The sun rises after 6 months!
Day 287, Aug. 31, 2020: The sun is slowly coming back.
Day 287, Aug. 23, 2020: This weekend John, Yuya, and I competed in the south pole Iron Chef competition! South pole chef and competition judge Ben sips a delicious chocolate liqueur cocktail made by another team.
Day 283, Aug. 19, 2020: It won't be much longer until the southern lights won't be visible anymore. Enjoy them while we still can.
Day 282, Aug. 18, 2020: The sun is still well below the horizon but the glow is very obvious at this point, especially with a camera.
Day 265, Aug. 1, 2020: During the long post-midwinter stretch of sameness we had a lot of fun this weekend shooting the South Pole entry for the Winter International Film Festival of Antarctica. Here is the cast and crew of the short film "South Pole Noir". Keep an eye on the blog for a video in the coming weeks.
Day 223, Jun. 20, 2020: Happy Midwinter! This celebration of the solstice is the most significant Antarctic holiday, a tradition that dates back to the earliest expeditions to the continent.
Day 201, May. 29, 2020: A good aurora surprised me on my way back from work.
Day 200, May. 28, 2020: South Pole Electric. Summer electricians shop.
Day 199, May. 27, 2020: Yuya and I visit the ceremonial South Pole.
Day 193, May. 21, 2020: Walked out to RF during a period of good aurora activity for a few pictures. Satcom radome in the foreground.
Day 192, May. 20, 2020: The moon has set again and we're back in darkness.
Day 188, May. 16, 2020: A spiral staircase at the back of the fuel arch leads to the surface.
Day 187, May. 15, 2020: The fuel arch: Stacks of 5 tanks (3 on bottom, 2 on top), in a row 9 stacks long.
Day 186, May. 14, 2020: The moon over SPT. The wind picks ice crystals up off the ground and makes everything look a bit foggy.
Day 180, May. 8, 2020: Self portrait in the moonlight on the road out to the dark sector.
Day 177, May. 5, 2020: Snow drifts are forming behind the station faster than usual with all the wind we've had this year.
Day 175, May. 3, 2020: I went for a walk after work tonight. After a week of high winds it is finally clearing up for some good photography.
Day 167, Apr. 25, 2020: It is starting to get dark enough for some good milky way photography.
Day 164, Apr. 22, 2020: The tomato plants must be ruthlessly culled lest they take over the greenhouse entirely.
Day 163, Apr. 21, 2020: Typical weather this year. Wind and blowing snow outside of destination alpha (a.k.a. the front door).
Day 159, Apr. 17, 2020: First picture of the Aurora Australis - a bit unsteady with poor framing but there it is!
Day 151, Apr. 9, 2020: Sunlight is still visible, and we get a bit more sunset magic even a few weeks later!
Day 150, Apr. 8, 2020: The moon rises full.
Day 144, Apr. 2, 2020: Walking back from MAPO on a very nice afternoon.
Day 142, Mar. 31, 2020: The first star of the winter! It is still fairly bright out.
Day 141, Mar. 30, 2020: Visibility is reduced to about half a mile at the surface. Blowing snow stays low, the BICEP Array ground shield and South Pole Telescope extend up out of the haze.
Day 137, Mar. 26, 2020: As the sun lowered below the horizon taking with it the heat it provides to dark surfaces, a crust of ice has begun to accumulate on the buildings.
Day 136, Mar. 25, 2020: Let the blue hour that lasts for days begin.
Day 133, Mar. 22, 2020: So long, Sol. I'll see you again in six months. Time to do some science.
Day 129, Mar. 18, 2020: As the sun approaches the horizon I am trying to appreciate our friend as much as possible, because I won't be seing it again for 6 monthts. The SuperDARN aurora radio array is pictured in the foreground.
Day 124, Mar. 13, 2020: Just around midnight the sun is 'grid North' to the station, right behind the ceremonial south pole. 'Grid North' is along the prime meridian (0 degrees). So, it's about noon in Western Europe and West Africa.
Day 123, Mar. 12, 2020: The sun is only 3 degrees above the horizon!
Day 122, Mar. 11, 2020: From the compressor room you can look up into the telescope mount, and see the four receivers. Below, compressors supply helium to the pulse tubes in the mount via the steel hoses and rotary joints that turn on each axis.
Day 121, Mar. 10, 2020: I left my camera on the roof of MAPO for a time lapse and captured the sun passing behind the SPT dish.
Day 118, Mar. 7, 2020: I'm looking forward to watching the snow drifts build up over the winter. This building houses electrical equipment servicing the dark sector. How much more buried will it get?
Day 117, Mar. 6, 2020: Vehicles are parked for the winter behind the station. Wheels with tires are removed and brought inside so they don't crack in the extreme cold. The sun here is about 5.5 degrees above the horizon.
Day 113, Mar. 2, 2020: High winds scour the landscape sweeping up snow and reducing visibility. The cargo yard behind the station is no longer visible.
Day 112, Mar. 1, 2020: The NOAA ozonesonde that Zach and I recovered gets returned to the air for another measurement of the atmosphere to 100,000 feet.
Day 111, Feb. 29, 2020: As the sun lowers in the sky, the light is taking on a gold touch. I'm looking forward to the weeks of beautiful colors before night falls. The sun is about 7.75 degrees above the horizon right now. Three weeks to the equinox.
Day 110, Feb. 28, 2020: Lemon cucumbers in the greenhouse are looking tasty!
Day 109, Feb. 27, 2020: Tedious pressure testing of the Helium Rotary Joint in MAPO. I was able to take this photo by combining multiple exposures capturing both the dimly lit and bright parts of the scene.
Day 107, Feb. 25, 2020: A tracked van traverses the NZSP flight deck, collecting the runway marker flags. The runway is closed until next season. Over the coming months it will drift over with sastrugi, blending back into the natural landscape.
Day 105, Feb. 23, 2020: Thanks Sky and Tara for the "Whiskey 10" sticker! It'll remind me of all the good times spent at the airport and in the air with Fred.
Day 102, Feb. 20, 2020: As winter approaches, the sun lowers and the view outside is looking more and more like late afternoon after a summer of bright sunshine 24 hours a day.
Day 98, Feb. 16, 2020: One of the last aircraft to leave the station sits in the parking area, waiting for the weather to clear and fly home.
Day 97, Feb. 15, 2020: Strong winds carry carry snow across the plateau, which is how the bulk of snow accumulation happens here, rather than precipitation which is rare.
Day 96, Feb. 14, 2020: We all watch as the last herc flight unceremoniously disappears into the haze. Aside from a few KBA aircraft transiting the continent on their way to South America and home, the station is officially closed for winter.
Day 95, Feb. 13, 2020: Looking toward the station on a hazy day from blowing snow, two intrepid polies walk the flag line to the dark sector with the sun at their backs.
Day 93, Feb. 11, 2020: Kelly tests fuel samples we collected earlier this afternoon as a training exercise. During the week after station close winter over volunteers will support several KBA aircraft transiting South Pole on their way home to Canada.
Day 92, Feb. 10, 2020: Cheng made this beautiful drawing of the team and printed copies for Paula and I. Thank you! I will frame this and keep it forever.
Day 91, Feb. 9, 2020: Zach and I went on a hunt for a NOAA ozonesonde and met radiosonde payload from a recent balloon launch. We found it 4.5 miles from the station grid SW.
Day 90, Feb. 8, 2020: The far field flat calibration mirror is installed on the front of the telescope. This lets us look at the calibration source attached to the DSL mast (near the horizon). We will be beam mapping using this mirror for over a month.
Day 89, Feb. 7, 2020: The aircrew practices a combat offload of a cargo pallet, where they drop the cargo out the back without stopping.
Day 88, Feb. 6, 2020: Got some amazing care packages on the flight yesterday! Finally, package mail! Lots and lots of chocolate for the winter.
Day 85, Feb. 3, 2020: The view from one of the windows in MAPO.
Day 84, Feb. 2, 2020: The greenhouse where we will get all our fresh vegetables this winter. Last week a bunch of romaine lettuce was harvested for a few salads for the entire station, so it is a bit thinner than usual.
Day 81, Jan. 30, 2020: The late-season BICEP Array team poses for a photo in front of the completed telescope. We've accomplished a lot this season.
Day 80, Jan. 29, 2020: First Light! That's real signal from the sky!
Day 76, Jan. 25, 2020: That's it! The last piece of hardware I needed to put on. All the Keck receiver forebaffles and membranes, as well as the BICEP Array forebaffle. This gives you a sense of how much larger the new receiver is than the old ones!
Day 75, Jan. 24, 2020: Clem and I collimating my star camera with the telescope mount. Yes, it can even see the stars during the daytime! We're looking at Alpha Carina, the brightest star within the telescope motion limits.
Day 74, Jan. 23, 2020: Some high humidity, warm temperatures, and low wind led to interesting vertical ice crystal growth.
Day 73, Jan. 22, 2020: Dave, the summer science machinist, stands in front of the BICEP Array mount. The wood struts above are a small crane to lift a calibration mirror onto the front of the telescope. Dave's handiwork.
Day 72, Jan. 21, 2020: Wayne brought his Oculus Rift with him. The future is here.
Day 71, Jan. 20, 2020: Working on the membrane covering the window of the BA1 receiver on top of the mount on a nice day. SPT in the background.
Day 69, Jan. 18, 2020: While I was gone lots of great progress was made on BICEP Array. Three Keck receivers were hoisted into the mount and today we installed BA1. The mount is fully loaded!
Day 68, Jan. 17, 2020: Finally, after four days of delay waiting for our flight back to pole, we made it. We had a great weekend full of hiking, then started getting bored... It is great to be home.
Day 67, Jan. 16, 2020: The USCG heavy icebreaker "Polar Star" makes a brief appearance just offshore before heading back out toward open water. This ship (home port in Seattle!) arrived a few days ago and has been cutting a path into McMurdo for the resupply vessel arriving next week.
Day 65, Jan. 14, 2020: Today included a tour of the McMurdo power plant. The monitor pictured displays a status page of the McMurdo and Scott Base shared power grid. There are five diesel generators in McMurdo plant A & B, three generators at Scott base, and three wind turbines.
Day 64, Jan. 13, 2020: We were able to arrange a tour of Discovery Hut today, built in 1902 during Scott's Discovery Expedition. Since then it has been used by numerous other expeditions and is now a carefully preserved heritage site. The hut remains full of provisions left by various expeditions.
Day 63, Jan. 12, 2020: McMurdo feels like a Hawaiian getaway for us. Hiking near the seashore on volcanic rock in balmy temperatures, wearing nothing more than normal pants and a sweatshirt!
Day 62, Jan. 11, 2020: We got some beautiful weather (above freezing!) for our hike to Castle Rock. The ~10,500 ft Mt. Erebus is front and center in our view, the southernmost active volcano on earth.
Day 61, Jan. 10, 2020: Two Minke Whales and a group of Adele Penguins splash around in the water just off Hut Point in McMurdo. Excited to see wildlife for the last time before heading back to Pole for the winter!
Day 60, Jan. 9, 2020: Matt considers his life choices as we boomerang
to Pole due to weather in McMurdo, a highly unusual event. We were headed to McMurdo today for R&R.
Day 59, Jan. 8, 2020: To get to the Dark Sector you have to cross the taxiway. A Polie lies frozen waiting for taxiway to open after a flight.
Day 57, Jan. 6, 2020: The South Pole Telescope is docked for inspections.
Day 56, Jan. 5, 2020: I'm hefting Zach onto my shoulders after he finished the South Pole Marathon! Photo cred: Yuya Makino.
Day 55, Jan. 4, 2020: After working hard this week, we kick back watching Blade Runner in the gym with the projector and big sound system.
Day 54, Jan. 3, 2020: Each winter huge amounts of snow get deposited downwind of the station. During the summer it is pushed into piles to improve access to the station then moved and dumped at the "End Of The World" past the cargo berms.
Day 53, Jan. 2, 2020: A front slowly approaches the station. Weather here is usually remarkably stable and consistent. It was exciting to see some dark clouds!
Day 52, Jan. 1, 2020: The new 2020 pole marker is unveiled in a ceremony today. Each winter crew designs the pole marker for the following year.
Day 51, Dec. 31, 2019: That's a cold cryostat. BA1 getting ready for calibrations.
Day 50, Dec. 30, 2019: Lorenzo is excited about the first fridge cycle being run on BA1 at the south pole. A little bit later we found it didn't work. Science!
Day 49, Dec. 29, 2019: Wandering around the station you'll find some pretty cool looking spots. This is at the bottom of the vertical tower connecting the station to the arches under the ice. Utilities run through these passages.
Day 48, Dec. 28, 2019: Finally my packages arrived! Included in my shipment were the little lights I put up. My bedroom feels more like home, with photos of Danielle and the dog, Christmas cards, and the Seattle sectional chart on the walls.
Day 47, Dec. 27, 2019: Wind picks up snow and blows it across the landscape, nearly obscuring the main station in this photo taken from near MAPO.
Day 46, Dec. 26, 2019: The
way to travel in style at the south pole. The BICEP team gets a ride back for lunch.
Day 45, Dec. 25, 2019: Practicing my night sky photography... inside my bedroom on silly putty! I call it Sam's Galaxy. Thanks to my sister for this fun Christmas present.
Day 44, Dec. 24, 2019: Christmas eve dinner with the BICEP team!
Day 43, Dec. 23, 2019: The talented residents of the South Pole brought out the holiday cheer tonight at an open mic night.
Day 42, Dec. 22, 2019: My first package arrived on a flight late last night! The rest are being held hostage in Chirstchurch or McMurdo until they decide they don't have more important things to fly down. But now I have a little pile of Christmas presents! Thanks Sam!
Day 41, Dec. 21, 2019: The rustic local gas station out back.
Day 40, Dec. 20, 2019: Christmas is just around the corner and I'll be getting a brand new telescope mount! We fired up the drive system today and are doing systems checks before moving it sometime in the next few days for the first time. This view from inside is looking straight up from the compressor room below the mount.
Day 39, Dec. 19, 2019: Missed yesterday's photo, but this is a good one. A sun dog makes the horizon glow intensely, looking out from the roof of MAPO towards RF.
Day 37, Dec. 17, 2019: BICEP Array Receiver 1 is finally getting closed up after a long wait for filters that got stuck in Christchurch for a few weeks. The optics tube has been installed on the 4K baseplate, and the 50K shell is about to go on over the top.
Day 36, Dec. 16, 2019: We put the insulation panels on the telescope today, and dropped the insulating boot down to cover the frame. Progress!
Day 35, Dec. 15, 2019: Out for a run with Craig and Zach. We're stopping for a photo at the "End of the World". Flat light today made the landscape completely featureless. Satcomm radomes to the left, main station center-right beyond the cargo berms.
Day 34, Dec. 14, 2019: The 2nd First Annual South Pole Head Weighing competition. This was incredibly popular, over 500 lbs of head was weighed. Prizes were handed out to the smallest, largest, and most average head.
Day 33, Dec. 13, 2019: The view from the roof of MAPO. Groundshield and telescope mount on the left, with the main station in the distance at center.
Day 32, Dec. 12, 2019: Giving a tour to several distinguished visitors (DVs), including the Director of the NSF and CTO of the US executive branch.
Day 31, Dec. 11, 2019: The BICEP Array mount construction progresses. Major structural components are in place.
Day 30, Dec. 10, 2019: A BICEP Array team photo with those on station, in front of the BA1 receiver focal plane before it is closed up inside the cyostat.
Day 29, Dec. 9, 2019: On a tour of the Atmospheric Research Observatory, bottling samples of the cleanest air on Earth with fellow winterover and NOAA Station Chief Marisa Gedney.
Day 28, Dec. 8, 2019: I think the US government hid the Ark of the Covenant away somewhere in here between 400 lbs of burger patties and a pallet of frozen mixed vegetables.
Day 27, Dec. 7, 2019: Zeke, our head chef, hosts a South Pole trivia night.
Day 26, Dec. 6, 2019: Normally this building sits by the airfield parking apron, but we borrowed it to keep our tools warm at the telescope construction site. Many small buildings are set on sleds for easy transport.
Day 25, Dec. 5, 2019: Testing radio frequency absorbing panels next to the DSCS satellite antenna, measuring the potential reduction in transmission signal power at the dark sector telescopes.
Day 24, Dec. 4, 2019: The "Dark Sector", as seen from the station at 10PM. This area is about a kilometer away and contains the (soon to be) BICEP Array telescope, BICEP3 telescope, South Pole Telescope, and the IceCube Neutrino Telescope (out of frame to the left). The BICEP Array cargo is queued in front of MAPO on the right side of the image.
Day 23, Dec. 3, 2019: I'm a sucker for pretty airplanes. Behold the Basler BT-67: Take a DC-3, which first saw service in 1935, then extend the fuselage, replace the radial engines with turboprops, upgrade the avionics and strengthen the airframe, throw on some skis and de-icing boots and you've got an antarctic flying machine.
Day 22, Dec. 2, 2019: Touring the satellite communication antennas in the RF sector. Each dish is enclosed in a fiberglass sphere to keep out the weather. We get 8-12 hours of internet a day between 3 satellites that just barely rise above the horizon.
Day 21, Dec. 1, 2019: Zach, one of our sat comm engineers, catches some "air" off sastrugi while cross country skiing on a Sunday afternoon.
Day 20, Nov. 30, 2019: The station crew enjoys an amazing Thanksgiving celebration. Thanks to the hardworking station staff and volunteers for putting together such a great feast.
Day 19, Nov. 29, 2019: Sofia and Ale work on the sub-Kelvin truss which holds the BICEP Array receiver focal plane.
Day 18, Nov. 28, 2019: Back to back Herc flights on deck at NZSP, on a bright and sunny Thanksgiving Day.
Day 17, Nov. 27, 2019: Prints of the New York Times front page on display in the hallway of Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, published after several of the early major achievements at the South Pole.
Day 16, Nov. 26, 2019: Waiting for a Twin Otter to taxi past before heading to work at the telescopes in the background.
Day 15, Nov. 25, 2019: After dinner pole-run with Yuka, Mike and Cyndia.
Day 14, Nov. 24, 2019: Yep, still sending it at 90 south.
Day 13, Nov. 23, 2019: Working on the laptop in my little berth.
Day 12, Nov. 22, 2019: On the walk back from MAPO for dinner I spotted this little bit of wind sculpted ice.
Day 11, Nov. 21, 2019: Unloading Keck receivers from the mount. End of an era.
Day 10, Nov. 20, 2019: Belated photo at the welcome sign to the station, bundled up in my ECW.
Day 9, Nov. 19, 2019: Looking 'grid north' at MAPO, where the BICEP Array telescope will be installed. This will be my lab for the year.
Day 8, Nov. 18, 2019: Dramatic glaciers and mountains are seen along the LC-130 flight from McMurdo to the South Pole.
Day 7, Nov. 17, 2019: Seal pup scratching its head, with the mother poking her head out of a hole in the ice. Taken at the sea ice pressure ridges next to Scott Base.
Day 6, Nov. 16, 2019: Kenny, Lorenzo, Ale, Mike, and Myself at the top of observation hill near McMurdo Station.
Day 5, Nov. 15, 2019: Panorama taken from the deck of the Chalet on a perfectly clear day.
Day 4, Nov. 14, 2019: Made the C17 flight to McMurdo today. Lorenzo and Ale play pool at Southern Exposure, one of the local pubs.
Day 3, Nov. 13, 2019: The C17 that will be taking us to McMurdo has been down for repairs. We took the extra day to explore Akaroa, a seaside town nestled into what was once the caldera of a large volcano.
Day 2, Nov. 12, 2019: Trying on 'Big Red' at the clothing distribution center. Walk in a schmuck off the street, leave ready for an antarctic expedition.
Day 1, Nov. 11, 2019: Bowenvale Reserve just outside Christchurch, NZ. Stepped off the long international flight this morning and now enjoying some free time before departure to Antarctica.