What started out as a relatively quiet week at the Pole ended with some excitement. First, there was an incoming flight. After eight months of isolation, these were the first visitors to arrive at the station. But they only stopped briefly to refuel on their way from Rothera Research Station to McMurdo Station. Since outdoor temperatures were still extremely cold, close to -60 C, the refueling was done with the engines left on and the propellors still running. The plane departed after only an hour or so.
Another area of excitement, at least for IceCube winterover Josh, was visiting the ice tunnels below the station and inspecting the Rodwell, the source for the station’s water supply. The Rodwell building is located about a half mile from the station, visible in the background of the photo below. In the foreground is an escape hatch from the ice tunnels that connect the South Pole station to the Rodwell. A view up into the escape hatch below is in the next photo. Water is pumped from the Rodwell, through pipes in the ice tunnels, and to the power plant, where main reserve tanks for the station are located. To inspect the Rodwell, a camera is sent down the shaft along with a weighted reaming block that serves to clear the shaft’s walls of hoar frost. The final image shows the shaft as it’s lit up from the descending camera.