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9 November, 2002

Checking out the vehicles around Mac Town

Date: 11/09/02

Latitude: 77 degrees 51 minutes South

Longitude: 166 degrees 40 minutes East

Temperature: -7C / 19F

Wind speed: 15 knots

Wind Chill: -35C( -30F)

Wind direction: Northwest

Meters of ice collected: 0

This journal was authored by Jim Laatsch. We are collaborating on the journals for this traverse. Jim, Dan and I had some fun taking the pictures for this one!

Today was not too interesting for the ITASE

team. We spent a while sorting and repacking boxes at science cargo and then worked in the Crary

Lab for a few hours cutting plastic tubes to put ice cores in. So, we decided to give you a little taste of McMurdo by photographing a number of the

weird and unique vehicles that make McMurdo run. Not to mention it provided us the opportunity to finally leave the packing behind and have a

little fun.


The Piston Bully looks like a mix between a snowmobile and a delivery truck and is very common in McMurdo. It's a tracked vehicle so it is useful in snowy areas and out on the sea ice.


A Matura is unique vehicle that you won't find at your local Ford dealership. It is an F-350 Super Duty pickup fitted with tracks in place of wheels. It is important to chock vehicles in McMurdo to maximize safety. However we found that undergraduates do not make good impromptu chocks.


Mac-town also has its fair share of gargantuan construction equipment. These highly specialized items give the USAP the flexibility to make McMurdo into such a large and dynamic base. Dan is seen here realizing that this crane's wheels are themselves large and dynamic.


All vehicles here need tires, so there are stacks and stacks of big tires to go with the big vehicles!


McMurdo Station receives a decent amount of snow and the fierce winds rearrange this into giant drifts. It is essential to have equipment that can move Antarctic sized snow drifts so the base can keep operating smoothly. These vehicles have the added and highly specialized benefit of plowing over scientists who get stuck doing handstands. Well hopefully, you enjoyed our quick tour of McMurdo's "Tonka toys" as much as we did. Science is a discipline that requires a great deal of teamwork and support to accomplish it mission. Often, this equipment is thought of as instruments and glassware in a lab, but in Antarctica the equipment that turns out to be the most important would never be seen in a laboratory. Everything has an important and necessary role and our traverse is just as dependent on forklifts to move our cargo, trucks to transport our team members, and aircraft to transport us as it is on radar and ice core drills that collect our actual data. Documentation is an essential part of scientific research and photographs are a wonderful way to record science in the field. However, one of the major limitations of photography is that depth and size relationships can be lost unless a subject is included for scale. Thankfully the ITASE members were more than willing to fulfill this role in these photos. Hopefully you now have a little better feel of McMurdo Station. We look forward to the arrival of the rest of the team tomorrow so that we can start making our final preparations for the expedition.


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