Our drillers have been incredibly busy! They are getting equipment assembled, moving the modules to the traverse launch site, and running through the paces of set-up. Over the past week or so they’ve been assembling equipment on the inside of the modules, making hose and electrical connections, raising the drill mast, and bringing all powered systems online. Coming out of warm winter storage, there are a number of ‘do-not-freeze’ items (electronics, sensors, and such) that had to be re-installed. The generators are both running smoothly. There was even time to clean off the outside from a winter’s worth of caked-on silt.
Lining up the drilling module with the drill-rod module and mating them into the drillers’ workspace is a major accomplishment with both units on skis. The platform joining them provides a deck to work the drill. As of today, the crew has erected the protective canopy over the drilling modules, which they did with strong winds and blowing snow! This was a good test to see what it’s like to set up the tent in Antarctic conditions.
In between work on the equipment, Chris and Rich went through crevasse rescue training in preparation for the traverse out to Minna Bluff, so there are not many free moments. Working in Antarctica is pretty much work, eat, and sleep, then repeat. Given the likelihood of weather delays and equipment break-downs, we work whenever we can so there are few dull moments!
So now we are 99% complete with initial field preparations and just a few more things to check off the ‘to-do’ list. Next step — drill a test auger hole through the firn.