After several days of acclimating to the altitude I am feeling better. The station is at 9,300 feet but the air pressure makes it feel more like 10,500. I have been told to take it easy for the first few weeks and to keep hydrating with plenty of water. It was also recommended to stay out of the gym for the first two weeks. Frequent naps help to live with the 30% less oxygen.
I am learning my new job as a satellite communications engineer. There are two of us supporting the winter. We are responsible for operations and maintenance of all things Satcom. The station utilizes three satellites and tracking antennas to keep the station internet and phone (voice over internet protocol) system operational 12-15 hours per day. There is also an Iridium satellite phone system that can be used 24 hours a day. In other words my partner and I are the station’s internet service providers. It’s a big deal here because of all the science research that is uploaded through the various systems and sent throughout the world. And of course the station personnel want their internet. The bandwidth is small but it does work.
The three satellites are GOES (a retired weather satellite), Skynet (a retired NATO satellite), and the South Pole Transfer Data and Relay Satellite (TDRS) Relay (SPTR2).
All three operate at a very low (< 1 degree) elevation and are controlled from a satcom work station. We man this work station whenever one of the satellites is scheduled for a pass. This entails working split shifts to cover the 24 hour day. It is similar to what I did in McMurdo last winter except not as automated and the customers are on station.
|TDRS RF shed.|
|9 meter GOES Antenna.|
|The antennas are about 3/4 mile from the station - a long walk in the cold.|
|South Pole Skynet antenna.|
|The Vehicle Maintenance Facility on the right. Cold storage to the left of that then the power plant on the left.|
|Tunnel leading to the power plant.|
|My room - small but nice.|
|Cold storage - lots of food.|
|Plenty of storage.|