The past two weeks of field testing, in pictures (part 1)
After we landed, Pascal's dog Ping-Pong perched on the wheel of the Kenn Borek Twin Otter.
We rushed to get the Drill Hill camp set up inside the crater, as the weather forecasts were not favorable. By Tuesday 8/13 we had the Icebreaker-2/LITA drill assembled in the dome tent.
With only a small crew in HMP base camp (six people), most people slept in the existing central work tents. After the dining/kitchen tent was taken down last year, for this year we cooked and dined in the wooden HMP Core structure.
It was cozy... almost more like University Valley last January, or HMP back in the late '90s, than the 30 person camps of the mid-2000s.
The LITA drill seemed to lack sufficient torque or structural strength to keep going through hard rock or frozen ground. In our deepest hole (90cm), by Thursday 8/15 we got a drill string stuck, frozen in just the first 15 cm of permafrost. We had to drill around it the next morning to free it. And the shaft itself snapped, at the top.
One of our tasks was to demonstrate robotic sample transfer from the drill to a mockup instrument inlet port. However, a student intern last spring had hacked and incorrectly rewired the robot arm. Here's dangerpudding doing a field-rewiring job to get the arm working again, successfully.
We borrowed the NASA GETGAMM project's long 2m sniffer shaft... originally so we could test the LITA drill to that depth (which proved moot). But while we were at it, we drilled and placed three drill shafts (two with commercial drills) and pulled out gas samples to be sent to that project at Indiana University.
Darkness fell in the Arctic... or dusk, really. I saw my first HMP sunsets and the odd prolonged bluish dusk of the first few nights. Here's the Drill Hill camp on Monday 8/19, darkening as we headed back to base camp for a very late dinner.