Research Station Life #3

Katie Joy | 26 Dec 2018

Spending time at Rothera before we transfer out to the field has been great and given me a chance to see some of the local wildlife, see some spectacular scenery, and meet the great people to work hard to keep the station and field operations on the go. The next few blogs will hopefully give you some insights to what life is life at the research station. See Research Station Life post 1 for some background to the wildlife around the base and Research Station Life post 2 for information about jobs around the base.

This blog is owed to the machines of Rothera. Forgive the slight diversion from meteorites and BAS station life, but this blog is in honour of my young nephew Isaac who I think would have got a kick out of being here not through seeing the penguins but because of the amazing machines that I see driving around base every day. So this one is for you Isaac, and hopefully the rest of you will find it as interesting to see the human influence side of a research station operation!

Although we are surrounding by pristine mountains and stunning nature, to keep people thriving and living comfortable takes a lot of hard work and running a station like Rothera involves a lot of infrastructure and also moving a lot of stuff around to get equipment, field gear and cargo to be in the right place at the right time. Also, with the ongoing new wharf construction project there are some seriously beast of machines around on site to help prepare new ground for storage and lay the ground for the future work. Here is a run down of some of the vehicles I have seen so far, and apologies if I have got any of their names wrong I clearly need to read my nephews mega-machine picture book more closely…

A cherry picker on tracks — I assume used for reaching high places
A snowcat tracked vehicle for traversing on snow — I can confirm is warm but a bumpy ride
A Gator Utility Vehicle with a trailer for moving bags and small cargo around station
Cargo container moving vehicle — the incoming ships deliver containers to the wharf area that are then moved around site by this kit to get them into the right place (some containers are used for storage areas, some containers are used for accommodation)
A seriously large bucket digger involved in the wharf construction project
Power generator units (there are four in total, with two in constant use to keep everyone of station warm and to power the local operations)
Desalination plant — generating fresh water from sea water for drinking and washing across the station. Water conservation is very important on station, as it uses a lot of energy to run the plant (three minute showers, economy clothes washing cycles). Some of the toilets are flushed with sea water to try and minimize water use.

Towards the end of this week a new ship arrives with even more machines for the wharf project including some serious cranes, so am looking forward to when I get back to Rothera in early February to see even more mega machines.