Thursday, August 6, 2009

Polar Bear Dip

Polar bear dip! This was the greatest day I've had since I arrived in Eureka. Worked for the morning in the lab, then drove partway down the ridge and went for a 4 hour walk on the hills and valleys overlooking Eureka Sound. It's all rocky up there, and it was such a nice day. It turned out to be about 14 degrees according to the weather station staff, but it felt much warmer. We took a break halfway through just to lie on the hill, soak up a bit of sunshine and some of the heat radiating out of the rock. The air was so still, and when there was a breeze it was a warm, gentle wind. As we walked back toward the truck (so as not to be late for supper down at the station) it just got hotter and hotter in the sun.

We drove the rest of the way down the ridge, and Bernard says, "I just want to dabble my feet in the water" and Mike and I though this was of course a great idea. It was the perfect day for it, and just in case we didn't get another chance, we wanted to wade in the Arctic Ocean. Well we did more than wade. Twice. We didn't set the camera to take a picture the first time, so we decided to do it again right after! Such a fantastic time.

Detector box for the laser: This is the part that collects the scattered light from the atmosphere and counts the photons in photomultiplier tubes. I spent many hours staring at this part of the lidar yesterday.And to top off the perfect day, we played a round of disc golf with some folks from Quebec who are up here studying greater snow geese. Turns out that during the summer they hatch goslings and none of the birds (adults included) can fly as they lose their flight feathers. So the people we met just have to catch the birds and band them. These bunnies in the picture below stayed with us for the first hole of golf. They were too intent on gnawing on the plywood to be bothered by frisbees whizzing past their ears. Better than gnawing rocks I guess?

Awesome day.

Today's update on the laser: we turned it on! The chiller is filled and operating. The technician from the laser company has arrived and today worked all day to check our connections, check for gas leaks, check the electronics of the laser, etc. We just ran it with helium inside (so that the electrodes could fire but it couldn't lase) and then after that we filled it with the usual HCl, Xe, He mix to leave it for an overnight pressure check. Tomorrow we will let it lase and shine it through the hole in the roof and try to get it aligned a bit. We also cleared out the old lidar lab next door (basically abandonned) and consolidated about 40 boxes into a more reasonable number. Excited to see how it goes with the laser lasing tomorrow.

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