Surveying at last! Well, sort of: Before flying over ‘uncharted’ shelf, we cover ground where there is already QC’ed and processed data (collected previously from NASA Operation IceBridge in 2013, and by ROSETTA in 2015 and 2016) we can compare to, so that we are absolutely sure that instruments are operating properly.
While racing out of the galley this morning to catch the 6am shuttle, Dave Porter (associate research scientist from Columbia University) casually informs us of recent and somewhat alarming news: The UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply), which feeds power to the meters during transit to the plane, cannot last more than ten minutes; we shall use a small generator – but start it inside, he tells us, as it’s too cold to turn it on outside. With only one cup of coffee this morning at breakfast, I was too decaffeinated to feel nervous as we were loading the gravimeters. Total lie: I was so nervous that one cup was all I needed.
The loading process went well, but take-off was delayed a few hours due to problems with the second engine. (The details of which I probably could not understand and were not given to us, but, perhaps ambiguity with regards to mechanical issues is best for the psyche). Everyone was giddy when the skis left the runway – we were finally airborne!