30 April, 2003
Palmer Station Tour
I would like to give you a tour of the station even though you are not here with me. I think this tour would help you understand much of the station's operations better.
The T-5 Building
Most of the projects being worked on this building are ongoing. Scientists can download this information in real time as it happens from any computer in the world. This keeps the scientists from having to come back and forth to Antarctica. The machines collecting this data are kept in working order by the science technician and the scientists can stay in their offices at their parcticular universities and still receive the information they need to do their work.
In the T-5 building there is a machine that records ALL of the earthquakes that occur on Earth. It is interesting to watch this machine work. Actually, there are earthquakes occurring on Earth all of the time. Most of them we do not feel because they are so small in magnitude, but we know the Earth is always changing and moving. There is also a satellite cloud cover computer in the T-5 Building. The station scientists and personnel use this information to help them prepare their agendas for the day and/or week. The ship's crew also uses this information for upcoming storm systems that may be in their pathway.
The Clean Air Facility
The Clean Air Facility does just what it says- monitors the air around Palmer Station. There is also a machine in the Clean Air Facility that measures every cloud to ground lightening strike around the world. It makes a loud popping and sizzling noise that reminds me of bacon being fried in a skillet, which is probably very close to being accurate because whatever the lightening is striking, it is definitely frying and sizzling it! Scientists all over the world study the ionosphere and use the data from this equipment. Scientists still do not understand all the interactions between the electrical parcticles yet or how the ionosphere behaves or exactly caused an electrical charge. The reason this instrument is located in Antarctica is because here there is less electricity used than anywhere else on Earth, which allows for less interference than someplace heavily populated.
The dive locker houses all of the diving equipment. The divers have to change from their clothing to their dry suits to go diving in the dive locker. The space is cramped with BC's, tanks, air compressor equipment, and other diving paraphernalia. I do not go in there unless I have to. If any of them need me for anything, I am right outside the dive locker door waiting for their beck and call. Their wish is my command.
The Biolab Building
The Biolab Building houses all of the laboratories that the scientists use. These are housed on the bottom floor. The second floor holds the galley or dining room, kitchen, and the administrative offices. The third floor is a dormitory, which has bedrooms for some of the Palmer Station personnel.
GWR stands for Garage, Warehouse, and Recreation. The downstairs holds the warehouse, garage, and logistics office. An upstairs hold the lounge where everyone watches movies, plays games, reads, etc. Upstairs, you can also find one of the two dormitories or housing units for Palmer Station personnel.
Facilities Engineering Maintenance Construction (FEMC)/Trade Building This building houses the personnel that oversee preventive maintenance. These employees have a list of items, buildings, and equipment all over the station that they must check either daily, weekly, monthly, semi-annually, or annually. These must be maintained in perfect working order at all times therefore, they are fixed before they are broken. If something were to actually break down, it could cause the station a lot of trouble since help is a continent and 4 day trip away.
The other side of this building is the trades office. It maintains the carpentry and electrician's workshops.
Hopefully, before I leave, I will be able to get some pictures of some of the Palmer personnel for you.
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