Update from the field

After several cool days, and some snow flurries, the Sun Returns.

Sunday, after several days of cold weather, was sunny and warm, and we
sure did take advantage of it. After a week without bathing or
washing, everybody in camp took some time after lunch for

Gonzalo and Andres set up a Solar Shower, and we all carried extra
buckets of water from the lake up to Base Camp to wash our clothes in,
then spreading them out on the rocks to dry in the sun. Tents were
swept, sleeping bags aired, chins were shaved, and before long we were
all back at work with an elevated enthusiasm.

Tonight after dinner we had several rounds of “Rock, Paper Scissors”
for the last 3 tiny bites of a particularly delicious chocolate bar,
The winners were Andres, ( our Paramedic) Nicolas, and Suzan.

1 December 2012 Activities log

Foggy Dome tents

Foggy Dome tents

With the Planetary Lake Lander proudly floating at the temporary
mooring close to the Base Camp Landing, The team still had a lot of
work to do today. Susan Lee, in charge of hardware for the lander, was
busy with the solar array design. With the possibility of only getting
3 hours of sunlight during the winter, the array is a critical
component to the success of the project.

Our official Expedition Photographer Lisa Blatt, Spent a good portion
of the day climbing the hills behind the base camp to continue her
documentation of the project. Lisa has participated in quite a few
scientific field expeditions, including several with Principal
Investigator Nathalie Cabrol. Hopefully you’ll be able to see some of
her work here soon, but if you’d like to see some of her photos from
prior trips, go to her website.

Inside the tent

Inside the tent

Eric continued the bathymetric survey the northern reaches of the
lake, where the glacial melt water still enters the lake in
spectacular waterfalls.

Lake Lander Calm

Lake Lander Calm


Question of the Day: What do you eat while at the base camp?

Glad to report that food is very good at the base camp, because we are
all hungry all the time from working on the Planetary Lake Lander and
the other projects supporting its launch.
We have a dome tent big enough for the whole team to gather at a long
table and eat meals, prepared by our official Chef Nicolas. Although
lunch time can be warm and comfortable, the mornings and evenings are
pretty cold, creating an extra sense of camaraderie when we gather
around the table.

Since all of the gear has to be transported to the Base Camp on
somebody’s back, The meals themselves are often what you might call
“expedition style cuisine”. But it makes us all happy.

Planetary Lake Lander Maiden Voyage… On Laguna Negra

Liam and Suzan were joined by Eric for the official Maiden Voyage of the Planetary Lake Lander. Although the floating pontoon and
meteorological station did ride out last winter on the lake, today was the first time that the complete lander, featuring the software and components to complete the mission, navigated on the lake.

Liam drove the lander, powered by an electric motor, from the rocky beach where they had been working for the last week assembling it, and moored it at the temporary mooring location not far off shore from the Base Camp Landing.

“It’s actually kind of beautiful” said team Roboticist Susan Lee.

This will make work slightly easier, because the place where the team was assembling the PLL was over a Kilometer away and required travelling boat with all the tools back and forth. The new mooring location is closer, but it might require more care to work on the floating platform in the lake. But the team say they are up to the challenge.

Today also marked the first day of Bathymetric and Thermal surveying of the lake, with Eric covering several kilometers in the zodiac in survey mode.

Activities Log

Posted by PLL Team

Heavy clouds rushed up the valley this morning and enveloped the Base Camp in a dense fog, precluding any work that required boating. Everybody took advantage of this break to catch up on other jobs that had been neglected by our enthusiasm for the field work.

By noon the sun had burned through the cloud cover, but was accompanied by the strong wind that the forecast had predicted.

Liam and Suzan returned to the PLL location to continue …, while Trey managed the other end of the communication from the Robo-Dome.

The strong wind continued, and about 4 pm a gust nearly collapsed the Robo-Dome on top of Trey and Lisa. One of the bows that hold the Dome up had broken, and it took some quick thinking to jury-rig a splint before another gust came along, and then added extra support guys to prevent further trouble. (The Shelves in the Kitchen tent were also blown over in the gust, but no gear was blown away.)