Given all the photography that I had done for Andy, as well as all the pictures I had taken recreationally around station during the winter, Andy asked if I would want to take aerial pictures of the station as part of the bi-annual photo shoot. I didn’t have to be asked twice…
The photo shoot was dependent on the Twin Otters being able to arrive back at Pole, and there were several days of delays due to weather. Yesterday afternoon, we got word that they were inbound from a remote site, but the time of arrival was unknown. Apparently there were mechanical issues and they kept getting delayed and didn’t arrive until after it was too late to do the evening flight (there are two flights, once in the morning and once in the evening, in order to get different sun-angles).
We were told that we’d make the flights today with three photographers on each flight. On my flight, the afternoon flight, there was Robert Schwarz (aurora photographer extraordinaire), Emrys, and myself. In addition, at the last minute we got permission to have extra passengers, so several people were chosen at random to join us. After a bit of a wait before the flight to wait for a Herman-Nelson to help heat up the plane, we were taxing down the skiway getting ready for take off. It had somehow quickly been decided that I would be the first photographer.
After takeoff, I jumped up front, changing seats with the co-pilot, put on a headset, got some instructions from the pilot, and I was up and running. We did 3 passes at 500 feet and the same three passes at 1000ft. My turn took about 30 minutes, during which I took about 1100 pictures (between my camera, wide angle, and Emrys camera, zoom). That’s just ridiculous, as I found when I was post-processing them later that night.
At any rate, I narrowed it down to the best ones, which I’ll (eventually) post in the picture gallery: http://www.stauchy.net/gallery. Here’s some of the pictures that show an overview of the station from above:
The entire South Pole complex from Grid West. The “Dark Sector”, which are science buildings, are in the foreground. The main station is in the middle, near where the white power-plant exhaust plume is coming from. Summer camp and the cargo berms are to the right, with the satellite dish dome on the far right. Finally there’s ARO, where I had a couple of instruments, alone in the distance on the left.
This is a closeup of the Dark Sector Lab (DSL). The blue part on the left has been there for a few years, but the rest was built during the summer before last, with the telescope (10-Meter Telescope) was built during our summer. It was really cool to see it going up. Over the next summer or two, they will build a giant ground shield, which will be about 270 meters around and as tall as the telescope. I’m glad we got to see it before the ground shield went in!
This one shows the main station, where we lived, worked, slept and ate for the past year. The picture was taken from Grid North-East (i.e more-or-less right above ARO). In the foreground, there’s a set of flags, which are located at the Geographic South Pole, so it’s right out our window. There are two “pods”, the A-pod and B-pod. Each Pod is broken into 4 wings, 2 berthing wings (the ones that stick out towards the back) and 2 main corridor wings (along the part with the black siding). The far left wing is the galley, the next wing over is where Lynette worked. Across in the second pod is the lab where I worked. The second berthing wing from the right is where our room was located.