Well, this season the blog is going to be a little different. We are changing perspective: Last season we reported directly from the ice, this season we will report from back home and from what we hear from down there. Interestingly, it is not a lot so far -- but we are hoping that it will get better.
The team left their various starting points (California and Sweden) not quite a week ago, but they are on the ice already. As we speak, they are out in the "Deep Field Shakedown", presumably called like this, since the old name "Happy Camper" was really not making it all way through the irony. The camp involves testing all the equipment for a night, learning how to set up a tent and how cold it gets outside. Also, it is considered essential for team-building, which is why also experienced team-members have to go again. Of course then knowing that there is no need to over-exhaust yourself on learning how to build a snow-wall and how to sleep in a trench during an emergency. Both are extremely unlikely to become necessary, but probably having done this once is part of making you more comfortable with the situation. One from stories you hear, you know that one should never underestimate team building -- everyone has to rely on each other down there or the setting makes a good start for a horror movie. You don't believe me: try watching The Thing or anything that is not a children's movie from this list. (On a side note: why am I not surprised that someone actually made a list for films set in Antarctica ...)
The home support team, in the mean time, does not have that much do to. We give our opinion on whether 55 gallons of fuel are too much and whether 55 gallons to store waste water are too little. We ponder about whether the drill instructor (the guy who teaches you how to operate the drill, not someone involved in excessive fitness, obviously) has already arrived in McMurdo and what else we can do to help. Not much it seems. Apart from obviously keeping an eye and an ear out to our team. Kind of also hoping for photos of course, but so far, we have only gotten the ones from the flight in New Zealand. And those still look too normal to share on this blog. But you can of course already find them on Twitter.
The plans for the season might sound familiar, but are again very different. The team will be building a wind-turbine at the site to test whether we can run the stations during winter without interruption. We will see additional cosmic ray stations being built, since we have learned from the data from last season that ARIANNA is a pretty decent cosmic ray detector as well. The program is being rounded off by bits and pieces here and there. Some battery management units need to be reprogrammed, some solar panels adjusted and a wireless transmitter fixed. Sounds like a walk in the park? Almost, if the park wasn't full of snow, pretty cold and the next hot shower a helicopter flight away.