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January 23, 2009

McMurdo’s Golf Ball

I’ve been offered a few extra days in McMurdo past today’s originally-scheduled return to Christchurch. I’m elated. It makes up for my delayed arrival, restoring my planned time on
the Ice. There’s still much to see, and the Golf Ball beckons.

Everyone here knows the Golf Ball; it’s visible from just about everywhere in town. Its real name is the NASA/McMurdo Ground Station. Technician Nik Sinkola offered a small group of us a tour, and a truck got us to the top of the hill in a matter of minutes.

The views back out towards McMurdo Sound are amazing. Observation Hill dominates the vista on the left, and mainland Antarctica lies beyond.

Inside the dome, an imposing 10-meter antenna tracks polar-orbiting scientific and mapping satellites that zip around the Earth nearly every 90 minutes. When the heavy dish swings into a new position, look out. It moves extremely fast for its size.

[display_podcast]

Nik introduces the big dish in the video. He is employed by Honeywell Technical Solutions which NASA contracts to manage the facility. He and his colleagues spend most of their time back in town at the Joint Spacecraft Operations Center (JSOC) from where they operate the antenna and process the collected data.

Thanks Nik, for the cool field trip.


Filed under: McMurdo — mbartalos @ 11:52 pm

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