Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Although I had been told I would get the contract, this morning a nice person from Raytheon called to officially make me the offer, and I accepted.  Official is good. So unless problems arise I will be the Safety Engineer at the Amundsen-Scott Research Station starting next February and continuing into October.

I should say a little about how this happens.  After interviews it is necessary for every candidate to go through some rigorous physical exams.  This is called physical qualification, or PQ.   Because it is often difficult or impossible to evacuate injured or ill people from the pole even in the summer, the health of the people working there is very important.   I completed my PQ tests for a summer season and I am happy to say I passed with flying colors, but for a winter position I will have PQ at a whole new level.  We're talking nuclear imaging and CT scans here!

But I think it will all be worth it.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Who is there now?

The Amundsen-Scott South Pole Research Station began austral winter operations this year on February 14, 2009 with a station population of 43 people. Of this group, 36 are employees of Raytheon Polar Services Company, 5 are providing technical support for fifteen ongoing research and meteorological observation projects, and 2 are supporting the IceCube neutrino detector. The station will be in winter operating mode until late October 2009 when the summer research season begins and the population of the station will increase to 250+ over the space of a few weeks.

The winter operations in 2010, my posting, is expected to be between 45 and 50 people.  At least this means everyone gets their own individual room in the main station building!  

Polar Fashion

Here is the typical basic cold weather gear supplied to everyone going to Antarctica - except I might get a GREEN parka that is reserved only for Polies.  I think green is much more attractive.  I'll also go for the mittens rather than the gloves...warmer.

Together this stuff weighs 17 lbs.  I'll explain later why that is important.  They give it out at the CDC (Clothing Distribution Center) in New Zealand, so I won't have to lug it all the way from the US.  I'll also take a nice East German Army fur hat I was given when I was last in Berlin. 

Friday, July 24, 2009

Introduction to 90 Below

Hello World - This blog starts today and will attempt to chronicle my experiences working and living at the South Pole. Although I won't reach 'The Ice' until February 2010, seven months from now, I think some of my experiences in learning about and preparing for the deployment may be worthwhile to post.

This will be my first time on the ice so I will be an FNG. I'll post some information on ice slang later, but FNG is a rather rude way of saying I'll be a newbie - a new guy. Time on the ice for me will be from early February to mid October - which includes the darkest and most inaccessible of seasons. But I'm eager to see the Southern Cross and the aurora australis.

Wintering at the South Pole is something only 1200 people have ever done, and I am excited and honored to be able to add my name to the list.

I hope you enjoy reading about my experiences, I know I'll enjoy telling you about them.

Aurora Australis, South Pole Station, June 2009 (USAP Photo)