The other day my family asked me what were some of the buildings that they see when looking at the Mawson station webcam. Living here at Mawson, we all know what the buildings are called and what role they have in our daily lives; but the thousands of people who avidly watch our station webcams may not know!
Is the big round building really a golf ball? Why is there smoke coming out of some buildings? Do you have fireplaces? Why would you paint a building all different colours?
With the help of a few pictures I will briefly explain a few of the prominent buildings that you can see when looking at the Mawson webcam.
The big round building (that looks like a golf ball) is called the ANARESAT dome. The building is a multifaceted paneled structure that is the protective home for a very large satellite dish. This satellite dish is the reason we have communications (telephone, internet, email, science data transfer, etc) with Australia and the rest of the world.
The community of smaller buildings are some of the remaining ‘old’ Mawson station that was built from 1954 to the early 1960s. Some of these buildings are now heritage listed and kept in a useful condition by being utilised as the sheet metal fabrication workshop, hobby workshop and music room.
Going in a clockwise direction (or left to right), the next large building is known as the ‘Red Dwarf’. It is a smaller version of the red shed in colour only — more on that later. The Red Dwarf is the main workshop and office area for the trades group. This includes the diesos (diesel mechanics/welders/fitters and fixers of mechanical plant), the plumbers and the electricians.
Next is a multi-coloured building currently surrounded by lots of snow. This is the domain of the carpenters or chippies and is affectionately known as ‘Rosella’. Rosella is the brightly coloured bird. The outside wall panels are leftover spare panels from the construction of the other newer buildings. It was more practical to use them as the alternative was either to store them somewhere or send them back to Australia.
Further along the beachfront is the large blue building with the fireplace. What you are actually seeing coming from the ‘chimneys’ is a combination of exhaust gases and thermal vapor. This building is our main power house (MPH) and contains four small diesel generators generating electricity, and two diesel-fired boilers supplying extra hot water for our building heating.
The smaller blue building is the emergency power house (EPH) and is our backup supply for generating electricity.
The large green building is the main store building for the station. Most of our food stocks, refrigerated food, cleaning and amenity items, parts and materials are stored in this building. I suppose it is our version of Coles and Bunnings combined. It also has a gym and climbing wall for recreation.
In the left of the camera shot you can see the northern part of the red shed. This red building is where we live. It has a large kitchen, dining room, medical facility, aerobics room, recreation rooms, cinema and laundry. It has rooms or dongas to accommodate 43 people. Although that would start to seem a bit crowded after spending a winter here with just the 14 of us.
This is the last of the red buildings. Next to the red shed is the emergency vehicle shelter (EVS). This is a specialised building for safely housing our emergency response vehicles — a SAR (search and rescue) Hägglunds, and the fire tender Hägglunds — out of the weather and ready to be immediately utilised if needed.
Well I have taken you around what you can see in our Mawson webcam. I hope that helps to explain some of the things you can view. The snow is building up into large drifts as the winter months go by and is covering up most of the rock and gravel. The sea ice has formed in our bay and is currently around 1500 mm thick. At night you can also see lots of lights on the outside of our buildings. These lights help us access essential buildings during blizzards when the visibility is very low due to blowing snow.