Week 43 at the Pole

Platform and stairs outside the IceCube Lab after being cleared of snow accumulation.
Josh Veitch-Michaelis, IceCube/NSF

The IceCube detector may have been quiet, but there was plenty of other activity last week at the Pole. First up, shoveling snow. IceCube winterovers tackled the mounds of snow that had accumulated on the steps and platforms outside the IceCube Lab. Above is the “after” photo, below is the same spot only a week or so before. More planes have shown up at the Pole, although the official “opening” flight, which brings in the first summer crew arrivals, was postponed due to weather. IceCube winterover Josh has been helping to fuel aircraft since two of the already departed winterovers were fuel volunteers. For these early arrivals, they are still refueling aircraft with the engines running to keep them warm. One of the benefits of being a fuel volunteer is that, because you get so close to the planes and can get fuel splash back, you are awarded extra shower privileges, a highly prized allowance. One of the disadvantages, however, is that those hoses need to be hauled around, and they’re heavy.

Last week had plenty of clear blue skies for taking photos, and Josh took some time to explore the area around the station. The photo below that shows the various buildings of the Dark Sector as tiny structures on the horizon, includes (from left to right) the South Pole station, the satellite domes, the Martin A. Pomerantz Observatory (MAPO), Building 61 (electricity distribution), the Dark Sector Lab (DSL), and the IceCube Laboratory (ICL). These buildings also served as a backdrop, quite a bit closer, for the station crew’s recent group photo. On his walk, Josh also happened upon a known oddity—a calibration target for the South Pole Telescope—a bit reminiscent of the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey. The final image gives a sneak peek of IceCube’s 2021-22 winterovers, as they pose relaxing on the ice at McMurdo, waiting for their flights to the Pole. Yes, it’s almost that time.

Platform and stairs outside the IceCube Lab before being cleared of snow accumulation.
Josh Veitch-Michaelis, IceCube/NSF
Propellor plane getting refueled.
Josh Veitch-Michaelis, IceCube/NSF
Person hauling large fuel hose out on the South Pole ice.
Danielle Simmons, IceCube/NSF
Clear blue skies, tiny South Pole buildings of the Dark Sector on the horizon.
Josh Veitch-Michaelis, IceCube/NSF
Large monolithic structure outside at the South Pole, with sun shining from behind it.
Josh Veitch-Michaelis, IceCube/NSF
Two new winterovers, seated for a photo out on the ice.
Ralf Auer, IceCube/NSF