Geographic South Pole


Fourmilab South Pole Expedition

January, 2013

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Return from Antarctica

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2013-01-11 12:25 UTC Click images for enlargements.

After a one day delay due to crosswinds which violated the constraints for operations from the blue ice runway, our IL-76 flight out of Antarctica was given the green light. We packed up our baggage and deposited it outside the mess tent to be hauled to and loaded onto the plane.

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2013-01-11 12:21 UTC

The blue monster truck will ferry us from the camp to the ice runway.

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2013-01-11 12:31 UTC

Ahhh…our saucer has arrived! Actually, just lenticular clouds as we were waiting to depart.

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2013-01-11 12:28 UTC

Thank goodness we didn't get this tent

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2013-01-11 12:27 UTC

…or this one!

The original colours of the tents were much more bright, but they are quickly bleached out in the intense ultraviolet light of Antarctica. The sections which appear white here were originally yellow, and the initial bright red of the end sections is visible only at the bottom of the left side where it has been shaded by the snow.

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2013-01-11 12:43 UTC

Luggage is loaded up on a sledge for transport to the airstrip. The Sno-Cat is regularly used for grading the tracks across the glacier and smoothing the snow around the camp.

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2013-01-11 15:54 UTC

New arrivals just debarked from the IL-76 discover the details of the toilets. Ewwww!

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2013-01-11 16:57 UTC

The Chilean base is being readied for the presidential visit, with Mt Rossman in the background. They picked a very cold and windy location for their camp, as is evident from the flags flapping in the wind.

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2013-01-11 16:52 UTC

The IL-76 is being prepared for departure from the blue ice runway. Usual turn-around time is about three hours. The IL-76 flies in with sufficient fuel for the return trip and possible divert destinations in Chile. (This is required not only because the logistics of bringing fuel to Union Glacier would be prohibitive, but should landing there not be possible due to emergent weather conditions, a return to Chile is the only practical option.)

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2013-01-11 17:01 UTC

A beautiful iridescent cloud is visible shortly before our departure. This isn't what you'd see with the unaided eye, but rather how it looks through polarised sunglasses. I used a circular polariser filter on the camera lens to approximate that appearance. Yes, Nikon zoom lenses really do make bug-ugly sun stars, don't they?

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2013-01-11 18:09 UTC

On board the IL-76; ready to trot.

by John Walker
February 22nd, 2013
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This document is in the public domain.