Dec 9 – Oh joy!

December 10, 2009

Today was a feast for the senses. We began the day by an excellent breakfast served at our Bed and Breakfast. Fresh tomatoes, eggs and fruit have never given me more pleasure. Peter flew back today morning. He had suggested visiting Riccarton Bush, an old growth forest in the middle of Christchurch. Chris, Kristof and I took a leisurely walk down there. It turned out to be an excellent choice. The trees, bushes, bugs and birds were a pleasure to the eyes, the wind and warm sun a pleasure to feel, the varied bird sounds a pleasure to the ears, the forest smells a pleasure to the nose, and the excellent food in the cafe a pleasure to the sense of taste.

I am at a loss of words to express how great it was to be there, after almost 2 months of not seeing a single plant or animal life form.

Myself and Chris entering Riccarton Bush.

Kristof at the beginning of the forest trail.

Joy.

600 years old Kahikatea trees.

Kristof smelling the roses.

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Dec 8 – Last day!

December 10, 2009

Peter, Chris, Kristof and I fly to Christchurch today in a c-17. Rest of the team flies out on the 11th after finishing packing and shipping the robot to the U.S.

I have been ready to leave now that everything I needed to do is done. However, I woke up in the morning feeling rather sad. I have met many interesting, intelligent, eccentric, and wonderful people here, had many interesting conversations and discussions, learned something useful from everyone I met, and now I may never meet many of these people again.

Emma came to see us off at the "terminal".

A Terrabus drove us the airfield.

The C-17 lands.

We had to wait out in the snow for more than an hour while cargo was being unloaded from the C-17. We passed the time by napping (Chris in this photo) and playing Euchre (a card game Peter taught us).


Dec 5 – Bittersweet goodbye to the dry valleys and party in “town”

December 10, 2009

We flew into McMurdo today. I was both relieved and sad to leave Lake Bonney. I have had one of the most amazing experiences of my life in the past 40 days at Bonney. I struggled through being sick and cold when I arrived; the team worked its way through a myriad of problems; the end result was a very successful season whose accomplishments exceeded all expectations. I have formed a strange kind of attachment with the lake and the valley and it made me sad to think that I may never be here again. However, I was relieved to leave – no more being cold all the time, eating bread and cheese for lunch every day, working 14-17 hour days, peeing in a bottle and pooping in a stinky bucket.

We got together in the evening to celebrate. Below is picture (thanks to Maciej and Rachel).

Starting from left, going clockwise - Jim, Emma (hidden behind Jim), Rachel, myself, Peter, Chris, Maciej, and Kristof.


Dec 3 – Last mission

December 10, 2009

We ran our last mission mission today. In addition, we also tested automated profiling, and ran automated profiling missions. Everything went smoothly and we are one step closer to running complete science missions (including profiling) autonomously in addition to bathymetry missions.

Kristof, Chris, Rachel and Vicky as the bot is pulled out for the last time.

We also managed to do a reasonable amount of robot disassembly and packing work today.

Peter and Bill loading up the syntactic foam into an ATV.

The syntactic foam is packed into yellow boxes that will be sling loaded by helicopters and flown to McMurdo tomorrow.

Rachel working on disassemblng some components.

The profiler in the process of being taken out of the bot.



Dec 2 – Profiling the narrows again

December 10, 2009

John thought that it would be a good idea to profile the narrows again so that he could see the variation in properties with respect to time. We profiled the narrows again yesterday. This time, the mission seemed very easy and went very smoothly. Below is a plot of the narrows (from Bill) using the data from the previous run.

Plot of the narrows from sonar data. The narrows refers to the narrow channel that connects the east lobe to the west lobe. In this view, we are looking from the east side. The points are color coded, so the green points are at a lesser depth than the blue ones. About 100 years back (1903), Scott's team travelled through this region and took various measurements. This channel was much narrower back then. (Sorry no numbers, Peter mentioned their values, but I don't remember them anymore).