Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Halley Wrap-Up: Base Photos

Hello all!

As may be obvious, the Halley and SANAE launch seasons for this year have ended.  The SANAE team departed already on Saturday, and are now back aboard the Agulhas II (stuck again in ice, from what I hear..).  And we at Halley are packed up, waiting for a flight out. 

First, two external links to share:
Halley VI Official Opening (antarctica.ac.uk)
NASA Article about BARREL (nasa.gov)

Moving along, we finally have a bit of downtime, so I've been able to go through some photos, shrink them down to more-reasonable-upload-sizes, and attempt to get them to upload.  The internet here has been pretty decent this morning, so here's a batch of Halley station specific photos:

A study in contrasts--
Halley from the Annex (where I live) on an overcast, windy day.
Halley a day later, after the storm has cleared!
Next, scenes from around the base--
The station signpost, to remind you that we're a long ways away from anything!

A visiting Adelie penguin ("Mark Jr."), asleep on a pile of snow.
A pyramid tent of the type used for fieldwork.  In the background, Halley VI!

Finally, you may recall that most of Antarctica is technically a desert, because the average precipitation here is often very minimal.  While the Brunt Ice Shelf doesn't see much snowfall, it does see significant snow accumulation - of order 1 meter per year.  Which is to say that it snows elsewhere, and said snow is then carried by the wind, and deposited in massive windtails behind any object that sticks above the surface.  Four previous versions of Halley were buried (and eventually crushed out of existence).  The fifth iteration was finally built on stilts, so that the building could be jacked each year to keep it above the accumulating snow.  But it was built on an ice shelf, and ice shelves flow, so each year the base moved closer to the ice edge.  In recent years, it was getting dangerously close to the edge of the shelf, such that its inhabitants might one day awake to find their station adrift on a recently calved iceberg.  This sixth Halley was designed with the challenges of its environment in mind:

Independently articulated, hydraulic legs, with flat ski/snowshoe-like pads (photo while the belly of Halley was approximately level with the surrounding snow).
Each leg is lifted in turn, and snow gets packed underneath.  Once all of the feet have been raised in this manner (shown), the whole station can be lifted as a whole.
Halley VI, raised and ready for a new year!  From left, the science modules (where we have our workspace), the two energy modules (on either side of the bridge/firebreak), and dining/living module (in red), including kitchen, dining area, library, gym, and lounge area.  Further to the right (not shown) are the comms module and wintering accommodations.  The various modules can be decoupled, and towed via tractor to a new location. 
We'll hopefully get some photos of balloon launches up in quick order, but no promises (possibly flying out tomorrow)..