Sunday, January 20, 2008

Halley VI - coming on nicely

The long days starting to fly past. Working on site, shifting, digging and driving has been excellent physical training. I've lost all fat gained over winter and am feeling like I've finally recovered from hibernation. The job's not especially interesting - I move things to where they're needed: It's what they're needed for that's worth talking about.

This season (and the next few) are all about building a new station. The principal driver for this is not so much the age of the existing base, but of the ice itself. The whole Brunt Ice Shelf we're sitting on is flowing west at about a metre or so per day. Glaciologists have studied this across the ages and determined that the a large chunk of it, including the existing base, is due to calve off and head north within the next decade or so.

To avoid Halley V meeting the Shackleton half-way home, BAS have decided to build a new station. Mounted on skis, Halley VI will be built on site over the next few seasons, then towed into position and commissioned. Its final destination will be roughly the same as where this station started life in 1990 - some 18km "inland".

Today was bright and beautiful. The summer's furious heat is leaving as the sun sits lower in the sky "overnight". It wont cross the horizon until mid February, but the difference in elevation is enough to drop nighttime temperatures to about -15C. This is great for skiing as the snow conditions in -10C are pretty much perfect. Construction work stops on Sunday, so I went for a nose around the site. There was a module in just about every stage of construction, so I'll take you through the process.

How to build a research station

1. Jack up space frame and remove old legs

2. Attach hydraulic legs

3. Slot in Mechanical and Electrical (M&E) cassettes containing all plumbing and wiring

4. Lay the floor

5. Place module's pre-fabricated "rooms" on platform

6. Add wall and roof beams

7. Move plant (generators pictures) into position and secure

8. Find a big crane

9. Cover with a large tent to keep snow out of complex machinery

So there you go. More to come as the sides go on, and hopefully we'll then get a look inside.


Blogger Ben said...

That's one hell of a toboggan you've got there. does they stay on the skis when they're in position, or do they have legs then, so they don't slide away in the night, like?

10:31 am GMT  
Anonymous Stu said...

Is it basically one massice Mechano set? Or is it more like a Ikea flat pack, where you only get one Allen Key and few bits left over?

10:04 am GMT  

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