This week we have had clear skies and no wind, meaning some great aurora shots and building activity begins again outside

A day in the life of…

The majority of the expeditioners at Mawson station are tradespeople, they have two important roles across the science and infrastructure and mechanical programs. As an active part of the science program they maintaining a lot of the automated science programs as well as taking part in traverses to conduct animal population surveys. They also make sure that the station operates as efficiently and safely as possible for everyone.

All the tradies have skills across many different areas, the one thing that they do have in common is an ability to function effectively in a remote and isolated environment and improvise when needed.

Hilly is the carpenter at Mawson Station, and one thing I have learnt is that the life of a chippie involves lots of materials apart from wood! I have watched Hilly work on steel frames, build concrete footings and work with our unique insulated wall panels amongst other materials.

Before winter one of the infrastructure teams major projects was to install an extended deck on the emergency powerhouse to allow easier and safer access to the exhaust ducting. The footing for the deck comprised cement pads, that were hand poured. In −15°C degree weather, a tag team of willing labourers ran up and down the hill between the green store and the emergency powerhouse with buckets of concrete. The concrete was mixed with warm water in a warm environment so that the water didn’t freeze. Then a large blow heater was placed over the top of the footings to make sure that they set properly. After a couple of days Hilly carefully removed the blow heaters to reveal perfect footings for the deck to stand on. Over winter with temperatures around −20°C, stage two had been put on hold.

But this week with a predicted run of low wind days Hilly has been building the final stage of this project. The new duct for the emergency power house exhaust, will allow people to stand on the deck and open the exhaust rather then climb on top of the building. The duct is clad in 100 millimetres thick panels to help with insulation. These panels are cut with a special blade that wraps the metal casing under as it slices so that a smooth edge is created, then the thick polystyrene layer is cut with a piece of wire, similar to a cheese wire. The edge of the panel is then sealed with gaffer tape so that the polystyrene doesn’t escape into the environment. Then a frame is fabricated and the panels are fitted for a cohesive finish to the job.

The project is nearly completed, final photos in a couple of weeks.

Sunsets, auroras and katabatics

This week has seen lots of aurora activity coincide with clear skies, meaning a few tired faces in the morning. 

We have had amazing quite bright auroras over West Arm and out at Macey hut last weekend and there was some faint tinges of pink in the mix.

The clear days have also meant lots of great sunsets and sunrises, which at the moment are timed nicely with breakfast and pre-dinner drinks!