18 January, 1999
Monday, January, 18th, 1999, South Pole Station
Greetings from the South Pole. Winds at about 5 knots, with temperature minus 22 degrees Celsius. A few clouds, the sun was shining. Another beautiful summer day in the Antarctic. We had a very successful ozonesonde ballooning day.
After wake up at 7 a.m. and a quick breakfast, we prepared the three ozonesondes following the 'on-the day of -flight' procedures: the solutions had to be changed, background ozone determined, the flow rate needed to be checked, the program connected, the readiosonde checked, batteries attached, ozonesonde conditioned. In the meantime, Andy filled the balloon; the way-off-weight was about 4000gr this time, launching three ozonesondes together. This flight was one of the replicates of the previous triple ozone flight using different models of ozonesondes (4A, 6A, 2Z), with the 1% KI solution. Several people joint us for the 'balloon show', including Jack Williams from U.S.A.-Today, and different people from the station who were interested observing our procedure. Because of consistency, Andy and Bryan were again going to do the actual launching to
We launched at 11:04 a.m. the surface temperature was - 30 degrees of Celsius and the pressure about 695 millibar. It was interesting that we were able to observe the balloon throughout the flight. It was fun determining the distance after we observed the angle of the balloon to the horizon, and knowing the altitude of the balloon. How can you determine how far an object is if you know its altitude (ex: 19 km) and angle from your viewpoint (ex. 27 degrees)? We were trying to find out if we could retrieve the balloon. It would land within 37 - 40 km --- which was too far away since the balloon did not have a signal system attached. This time the balloon burst, as it usually does - at 35 km; we were able to observe the data on the computer as the balloon descended, at 11:30p.m. The balloon was on the ground and we were able to go to lunch. Eating is important here in the cold weather! I was truly looking forward eating some warm soup. The Balloon Inflation Facility (BIF) is somewhat heated, but is kept at low temperatures.
After launch we started the last replica of the triple ozonesonde flight using the three different ozonesonde models and 2% KI solutions in the electrochemical cells. We ere ready to launch at 4:35p.m. As in the morning, we were again able to follow its flight by sight due to the calm and clear weather and calculated its distance throughout the afternoon. The balloon burst at about 6:42pm and was on the ground by 6:50 p.m. -- just in time for dinner ---great timing Bryan!! The triple ozonesonde experiments were completed and we could start working on the data processing. Question: What would be the size of a balloon at 35 kilometers altitude? Would it be smaller and by how much; would it be larger and by how much?
After dinner I answered email questions from students and worked in the Lab at BIF with Bryan. Left BIF at about 1a.m. Went for a walk across the wide Antarctic ice sheet and checked out the arch constructions near my Jamesway. To my surprise, one of the arches had a swing attached. The wooden seat was painted with flowers and a few words invited to swing independent of age! How creative! Guess what I did? It was a great feeling swinging above Antarctica and I was looking forward writing about it…Today, I also picked up some skies.
…about my question from yesterday how long mail takes to get here. This depends on it if it is 'flat mail' or 'package mail'. Some of the letters friends mailed me took 2 weeks including a semi-flat package with a little book. Letters can sometime take longer depending of the weather. Package mail can take as long as over a month. Cargo has always priority over packaged mail. The collective address is an Army address in the states. During the wintertime there will be no 'mail - dropping' for the winter-over people.
Good night, and thank you for all your questions. I enjoy answering them and I am looking forward hearing from you again.
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