A MARSgram

Hi Quinnisha,

I do not think it is boring here. There is so much to do and see. We even have TV. The channels are limited, but we do get the Simpsons!

We received a few snow flurries the same day you did, but you received much more accumulation. We do not get large accumulations of snow here. I just added up a chart I received, and we only get an average of 77 inches of snow a year. That is not that much, considering that it comes every month of the year. I can look around outside, and the mountains are covered with snow and ice, and glaciers run down the mountain valleys like rivers, only much slower. There are some patches of snow and ice around town, but I have not seen any good snowman making snow.

The ground in town is mostly rock and gravel. The ice in the mountains and sea vary. I heard the other day that the ice near the runway where the airplanes land was 10 foot thick. The sea ice there is getting thinner, and the road on the ice has standing water. They are moving the runway south this weekend to the permanent ice that never melts. I have heard that at the south pole, the ice is 2 miles thick.

I am taking lots of pictures, and when I return in a few weeks, I will make sure they get scanned so we can all enjoy them.

Thanks for writing,

Hi Casie,

I am sorry Casie, but I remove my mail from the net, to correspond with you in the evening on my notebook computer. I do not have Netscape from here, so I am not sure to which picture you are referring. Also I am not good at identifying whales, so I can not help. I did look at some information I have, and it appears many types of whales are in the waters locally, including Killer and Orca whales. I have not seen any yet, because the sound is still frozen. In a few months when the ice is broken up, I hope to see some whales.

Thanks for writing,

Hi Kaley,

I do not have a nickname, but why don't you want me to call you by yours? I have several hobbies, but softball is not one of them. I am a Ham Radio operator, and they have a Ham station here. The equipment there will allow me to talk to people all over the world on short wave. A few years ago, this was the only way to talk home when working here. Now they have telephones and Internet here.

I like computers also, and have three of them. One of the computers is a notebook, which I can use anywhere. Back home in Snow Hill, there is one computer for the whole family, and another that is connected to radios for a Ham Radio Bulletin Board. I had to shut down the BBS before I left home, as I am the only Ham in my family. Since I shut down the BBS at my house, I am receiving my Ham mail from a BBS in Louisiana that I can reach from Internet.

My other hobby is gardening, and we have lots of flowers in our yard in Snow Hill. They have a greenhouse here in McMurdo, but I do not think I will be doing much gardening while I am here. I have an idea for showing you my Ham Radio hobby. The Ham Radio station here is a MARS station, which is a Military Amateur Radio Station. I can send Telegrams through that service, which will be relayed via Amtor (a combination of radio and computer) to a station in the states, which will relay it to a station near you. Please send me the mailing address and phone number of the school, and I will send a MARSgram to the Kids in Delmar.

Thanks for writing,

Hi Ashley,

I am doing fine here. The temperature is in the 20's right now, and it is very windy. I saw a few snowflakes this evening. The clouds are covering Mount Discovery across the sound, so we may be in for a little bad weather.

I picked up the letter Saturday afternoon here. I usually send out my mail before work in the morning about 7:30 AM, and pick up my mail after supper about 6 PM. To give you an idea of the time difference, I told my wife last week that I would call her on Sunday. It is Sunday here, so this morning at 9AM I called my wife. Her first comment was she thought I was going to call her on Sunday. Well, I did, because 9AM Sunday here was 3PM Saturday afternoon in Snow Hill. So if Ms. Weeg is quick to pick up the mail, she will receive it before I send it, if you go by local time.

I work at a satellite tracking station, and track satellites to retrieve science data from the satellites. We take the data and record it for scientists. Soon we will have a link into New Mexico, so we can transfer the data more quickly. Since we can not get supplies, people, or mail on or off the ice from February until October, (there are a few flights in August) without this link the data cannot be used until the tapes are shipped.

There are many people working in our office now, as we are trying to get a lot of repairs and upgrades complete before the winter. Once the winter sets in, there will only be 2 of us performing the work. The person I will be working with is named Matt Nelson. Before he came to Wallops to join the program, he worked at the NASA site in Houston, TX. He has been working as a NASA contractor for many years, and has meet several astronauts and has even watched a Shuttle launch.

I have not been able to find out anything more about Mount Erebus. I did talk briefly with a Scientist this evening that will be soon going to the volcano. I will try to see if I can find out anything interesting for you.

Thanks for writing,

Hi Andrew,

I packed a minimum amount of clothes. In Christchurch New Zealand is a place where they issue clothes for us to use. They give us all types of cold weather gear for us to use while we are here. When we return, we give it back so someone else can use it. The total weight of our bags containing the cold weather gear, our other clothes, and all the stuff you need like a toothbrush must not weigh more than 75 pounds.

There are no penguins I know of that are as big as I am. The largest penguin that can be seen in this area, is the Emperor Penguin that can grow to 4 feet, and weigh 75 pounds.

They have a radio station and television station here, and play a variety of programs. They also have a video tape rental place, and a music CD rental place. You would find most any popular TV program, movie, or song that you would find in Delmar.

I am not actually doing research, but will be receiving, recording, and transferring data from scientific satellites. I do not get involved in the research that scientists do on the data. The booklets they issue here about cold weather say that beards do not keep you any warmer, but I think I will keep it anyhow.

Thanks for writing,

Hi Tessa,

I think penguins are cute. I have not seen any yet, but I hope I see lots of them in a few months when the ice breaks up on the sound.

The weather here this evening is very windy, and turning for the worse. I just went out on the balcony and looked over the sound. The mountains across the sound are about 20 miles away, and the tops are in the clouds. The farthest mountains I can see usually are about 50 miles away. It is 11:20 PM and it is still light outside, but cloudy here.

The sun is shining under the clouds on the mountains probably about 30 miles away, and reflecting on the ice fields and glaciers. I saw this one other evening, and it is very pretty. I think I will have to take another picture this evening. The temperature is in the 20's and I saw a few snow flakes earlier in the evening.

I do not think we will get enough snow to go sledding or a snow fort. My son Zac is doing fine, and had a great time playing in the snow the other day. His school, Snow Hill Middle School, had the day off school because of snow just like your school.

Thanks for writing,

Hi Patti,

This is for Ashley Rowbottom. She had wanted more information on volcanos.


Hi Nickel,

I went to the office next to mine today in the Crary Lab. The next office is the Mount Erebus Observatory. I teaching in met a fine man named Ray Dibble, who is a retired teacher from Wellington New Zealand. He has been working for many years watching volcanos. The principal investigator is a person named Kyle from a school in New Mexico.

I had told you earlier, that I can see smoke rising from the volcano on some days. Mr. Dibble has been watching Mount Erebus for many years, and has been very close to the volcano. He is riding a helicopter tomorrow, to put a special microphone and radio at the volcano, to listen to the activity. Mr. Dibble told me about the volcano. It has lava pools in the core. The size and number vary, and the largest is about 50 meters across. The earth under the volcano is moving.

In the observatory, they have computers and paper chart recorders that watch special sensors that watch for earth quakes or seismic activity. I was very surprised to find that the last season report showed an average of 6 earthquakes a day! I have not felt any quakes, and will probably not feel any here. The instruments are so sensitive, that they record quakes that are very gentle, and cannot be felt.

David Hess NK3T

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