11.12.2008

The Kiwi Mechanic and LDB

video

I was sitting next to a Kiwi in the lounge today and brought up Neutrinos with a fellow friend of mine. First I was talking about how the ice sheet acts as a buffer for Neutrino dectors; in order for scientists to observe Neutrinos undisturbed from other sources of radiation it has to be buried several kilometers in the ice. Then we got on the subject of the LDB (Long Distance Balloon) center. A fellow Chef (John) from Alaska cooks from scratch at the LDB, and rumors have it that the food is spectacular. I told the guys I'm trying to get some information on the CREAM project (http://www.nasa.gov/vision/universe/starsgalaxies/cream.html) that goes on at the LBD and is supposed to lift-off in December. A guy sitting next to me said he was filling in for the LBD camp manager next week and the entire place is monitored with cameras. "Massive NASA stuff eh?", I said. He replies, "Ya dude massive NASA stuff." Driving vehicles around the complex is strictly limited because when they launch the balloons they don't want to risk hitting any potholes while carrying an instrument that is basically a 3-story computer the guy tells me. If a truck tire drops a piece of dirt/rock, that dirt/rock likely has a high albedo, which in turn melts the surrounding snow and creates a pothole.

The guy to my left leaves and the Kiwi to my right looks at me. "So have you been studying Neutrinos?", I ask. "No but I'm a mechanic, I basically fix all their stuff and am really interested in all their work", he says. He goes on to tell me that today he had an hour tour in regards to one of the ballon projects. The scientist told him that come December the winds get just right so that the balloon can cirumnavigate around the entire continent, while remaining at about the same latitude. It takes about 40 days for the balloon to do a giant circle around Antarctica and sometimes ends returns back to where they put it up. That's why I have put the weather visual up top. You can kind of see how the clouds go clockwise around the pole, now imagine lifting a giant ballon in those clouds and letting it cruise the wind. At the same the giant computer hanging from the balloon is gathering data for NASA and scientists alike. Amazing how it all works and how much the scientists trust that the polar vortex will do the same thing every year.