Jay (brian1789) wrote,
Jay
brian1789

It looks like... Antarctica?


Yesterday and all day today, it has been snowing... am having to be careful to shake the snow off of my sleeping bag. Outside, given the snow cover and barren rocks, it looks like a stereotype. There have been a few gaps in the weather, and yesterday we started drilling a new borehole during an afternoon lull. Using a sterilization protocol on the drill string between every 20cm drilled, and taking samples for later analysis and comparison to results from cores in the same area (this gives us an idea of how much mixing and potential cross-contamination we might have from using ground-up cuttings rather than cutting bits out of solid rock cores (obtained by much bigger drills here)).

Today we finished the hole... and at the very end, the drill jammed. We had a bad bit temperature sensor, so were not aware of how much we were warming up our cuttings due to friction. Given mud... and -25C in the hole... as soon as we jammed, and stopped moving, it froze us in place. So we tried to free it, then disconnected it, and spent the rest of today trying to drill/dig out the stuck shaft. It is almost freed. Still, we have learned to watch the delta between bit temperatures and ambient rocks, and slow down if the former gets too warm. As well as that jamming fault recovery needs to not pause the drill *unless* retraction has already succeeded. It was a combination of factors that got it stuck... and *that* is why we come to places like this to test.

Otherwise... no bath in a week now, living in fleeces, have gotten used to brushing my teeth with a frozen toothbrush and toothpaste (let them thaw in my mouth) and using frozen stiff wetwipes on sensitive areas. All minor challenges that come with an extreme environment like this one, or with field work.
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