With the departure of special guests and advisers on Friday the visit season at Casey is over, for the moment. After a quick and comfy trip up to Wilkins in the Terrabus they were wisked away, but not before a day of science briefings and meetings and a quick visit to Shirley Island. The Casey team received a lovely thank you gift of cheese and snacks which were gratefully put to good use over the weekend. Very happy expeditioners having (not pre-frozen) cheese for the first time for quite a while.
We were also joined briefly by an international movie star on Friday; Sam Neill dropped into Wilkins to spend a very quick couple hours on the ground, filming for a Foxtel documentary on Captain Cook’s explorations. All were very enamoured of him (not least of all by quite an excited station leader).
On Saturday all broadband communications services were disabled for several hours as the ANARESAT dish was moved five degrees to the west to point at a different satellite and services were established with a new provider. Even with recent upgrades the previous link had a throughput of only 2.4 Mbps, after the change and with some fine tuning the current link has been stress tested at 10.3 Mbps.
The change in data rate is a significant difference for the Casey community. Applications used by medical, stores and the trades team communicate with servers located in Kingston, the improved data rate cuts down the congestion on the satellite link, improving response times. It is also easier for scientists to collaborate with colleges in Kingston or for that matter all around the world. Sharing data from Antarctica and researching relevant papers in their fields of expertise. (And also assisting the expeditioners keep in touch with the outside world… and do some Christmas internet shopping.)
The weekend saw the usual off–station activities, with trips across to Wilkes and out to Jacks Donga, and another 10km ski/walk/run/ride down from the ski–way to station. It seems that the sea ice will now preclude any further visits to Shirley Island to see the penguins. (We are very sad to not see the hatching of the chicks, but the penguins are probably happy for the peace and quiet.)
Preparations are underway for our highly anticipated resupply voyage, which sailed from Hobart on Wednesday 13th and is currently due into Casey on 23rd December.
A busy weekend ahead with six intra–continental flights meeting up with two inter–continental flights… expeditioners moving in all directions and across the continent. If it doesn’t work we may have up to an extra 50 people on station, so camp grounds may be established and ration packs will be the cuisine of choice.
We're praying to the weather gods. Please pray with us.