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National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Goddard Space Flight Center

Astrophysics Science Division | Sciences and Exploration

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TIGER in Antarctica

November 18, 2001

A day off

Sunday was a day off. I slept late, did my laundry, and then went to the Sunday brunch at the cafeteria. Not bad, but not great. After brunch, I went over to the open house at the fire station.

There are 40 firefighters here at McMurdo, out of only 1100 people (at this moment). That shows how important they take fire safety here. The firefighters also run the ambulance and respond to hazardous spills. There is quite a bit more to being a firefighter here than in the states.

Mark Wefel using harness There was a lot of show and tell. You can see Mark Wefel (one of the NSBF personnel) using a rope harness for entering and exiting ice crevasses at the right. I got to use the "Jaws of Life" on a steel 55-gallon drum and intubate (put a breathing tube in) a patient (dummy). I also won a T-shirt as a door prize, blue on white, the inverse of the ones seen at right.

Photo on right: Mark Wefel using harness

Later in the afternoon, Jason and I took a tour of Crary Lab, the large science building here at McMurdo. There are many offices and laboratories here, and the different science groups (known officially as "grantees" because they're here under a grant from the NSF; unofficially we're known as "beakers") rotate through them. There are also a number of large freezers, which may seem unnecessary here, but these are very temperature stable. Certain samples, such as ice cores, can change their properties if the temperature varies.

Eric petting an octopus They also have an aquarium, where they keep samples from the people who dive under the ice. One of the tanks at the aquarium is a "Touch Me" tank, which would be better if it weren't filled with 28 degree F supercooled seawater.

Photo on left: Eric petting an octopus

That didn't stop me from reaching in, however. After two quick dips of my full arm into the tank, it was painfully cold. It is easy to see why an unprotected human can only survive a few minutes in water this frigid.

In the evening, I took a hike up Ob (Observation) Hill. I'll cover that tomorrow.

Photo of Dr. Christian

Dr. Eric R. Christian
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This page was last modified on December 19, 2002