Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Water, water nowhere

The power outage that temporarily knocked the IceCube detector offline also took out the station's water pump. This is unfortunate, because it's the main source of water for the entire station. As a result, we've been on water rationing since yesterday morning, meaning no showers or laundry and paper plates/cups and plasticware in the galley. Rumors seem to indicate that it'll be fixed today.

The water is provided via a Rodriguez well (or "Rod well"), where a hole is drilled into the ice and then enough heated water is circulated in the hole to keep the station supplied with water and to keep the hole from freezing.

Coincidentally, a group from Wisconsin is drilling a new access hole into the Rod well. They'd normally be out drilling holes for the new Askaryan Radio Array, but due to the government shutdown several projects were cancelled for this season, including ARA.

That big hanging thing on the right side of the picture is the firn drill, which was built back in the IceCube drilling days to melt through the firn layer, the initial layer of snow on top of the 2 km of ice.

The firn drill is essentially a big, pointy radiator. Hot water is circulated through the copper tubing and the drill melts its way down.

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