A Very SPIDER Christmas

Christmas this year was a welcome relief after the stress of launch prep and LOS, and a chance to celebrate with the team one last time before we begin leaving the continent. The official banquet was on Christmas Eve (Saturday), with a low-key Sunday brunch on Christmas itself.

Flight Monitoring Takes No Holiday!

SPIDER is still in the air, and we need to keep monitoring it. Once LOS ended we set up a monitoring center back in McMurdo, in Crary Lab. Team members rotate in and out day and night, checking on SPIDER’s health and pondering / fixing anything strange in the data.

SPIDER’s Crary monitoring center, as seen on Christmas Eve.
Whimsical door sign, courtesy of Elle Shaw.

Christmas Dinner

Excellent dinner and well-earned relaxation for the team
Christmas dinner: king crab legs, lobster tail, clam chowder, plus sides and desserts.

As a personal aside: king crab has been more or less my favorite food since I was a kid. Once a year each August my family would go out to dinner at a local steakhouse, as a combined celebration of birthdays / anniversary / etc. We’d all order the king crab, and I have best associations with that meal. I have not had king crab in years, however, since the fishery has more or less collapsed. This menu was thus a real personal treat after an intense few weeks… I had seconds of everything.

Illinois student Elle Shaw with her amazing watercolors (top row), in the window of the McMurdo store outside the galley.

Post-Dinner Walk

After dinner most of the team took a stroll out to Hut Point, on the rumor of penguins in the area. No such luck, but it was still a nice stroll.

The sea ice is really breaking up this time of year. The black blobs in the distance are Weddell seals (no penguins today).
A happy balloon team on the way back from Hut Point

A White Christmas

I guess Christmas in Antarctica is always white, but it was nice to see a dusting of snow Christmas morning.

A dusting of snow on Christmas morning. The blue building is 155 (with the galley), with Ob Hill in the background.

Ready to Head Home

Antarctica has been nice, and I’m proud of our successful campaign. But I miss my family and home, as was brought home very hard by a call to them on (their) Christmas Eve. Very much looking forward to departing for Illinois this week.

Merry Christmas, and Happy Holidays.


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