David and I got up early for trip out to Siple early yesterday morning. We met up at breakfast where we could check the flight manifest that tells you where to be when to catch an intra-continental plane here in Antarctica.
All clear. All suited up with two layers of thermal underwear, Carhartt pants, and Big Red stuffed to the gills with tools, we boarded the bus headed for Willie Field where we would board a Twin Otter, a fixed wing plane that can land pretty much anywhere. They aren't flying the larger of the two fixed wing planes to Siple right now, because the skiway is in pretty bad shape, having been neglected last year during the U.S. government shutdown. There's only enough room in a Twin Otter for the two of us, our flight crew, and our cargo.
We're headed to Siple to set up stations on the ground that send calibration signals up to our balloon's payload. The antennas on ANITA point down at the ice looking for short radio pings due to the interactions of neutrinos in ice or cosmic rays in the atmosphere. We mimic those signals from the ground with little pulsers that send little blips once a second, precise to within 50 billionths of a second. As the balloon flies overhead, we will detect these signals, and since we know exactly where the stations are, we can figure out how well the antennas are aligned, how much the payload is tilting, and how sensitive our instrument is.
So we're excited to get out to Siple. Not yesterday though. We boarded our shuttle to the airfield, made it half way there--to Scott Base, the New Zealand base nearby--and were told the flight got cancelled.
Not today either. We repeated the whole process this morning only to have several people come up to us at breakfast telling us that our flight was cancelled. We wait another day.