2. Oct. 28, 1998, Wednesday: Santiago
Today Alex signed the lease for a SkiDoo Skandic WT 500 that we obtained from the El Colorado ski resort. He examined the SkiDoo at their service center, and it seemed to be in good condition. Oil and spare parts were also provided.
He also had a meeting with Entel, a Chilean telecommunications company, to explore the possibilites in our testing satellite communications from high latitudes such as Patriot Hills and of possible cooperative endeavors, in light of the fact that there are no existing Intelsat communications from that location. He learned that during the previous week, Entel satellite technicians had deployed a satellite communications dish and transceiver at Patriot Hills to explore the possibility of communications through the Intelsat constellation. The minimum temperature they registered was -40C and the wind chill factor lowered it to -69C! The general comment is that the conditions are very bad in October. We hope that they will improve during November.
The leader of the team had bad news: they were unsuccessful in receiving any signal from the Intelsat satellites. Alex's dream of free comms began to fade, however they had also deployed an Inmarsat package and had had successful comms through that medium, so they discussed how we could work together. They agreed to request free traffic through Inmarsat. If that request does not succeed, a cut-rate fare will be requested. Also, with money from their marketing department, Entel will provide matching funds up to a certain limit, which would double the number of hours available to us. He also learned that Entel is the local representative of ICO, a constellation of satellites at 10,000 km orbit that will have a minimum testing capability by the year 2000. This also could have important possibilities for our project. For this reason, and because of this initial effort at cooperation with their people and facilities, and a possible good outcome of the Inmarsat initiative, we should think of Entel as part of our team, as concerns an exploration of the possible ways to achieve satellite communication from very high-latitude locations such as Patriot Hills. They will join us in a press release to the local community in Punta Arenas.
Examining Entel's pictures from the ice, Alex was able to see that our yellow crates from last year are still there. That is very good news, given that there was some chance we would not be able to find them after the antarctic night.
Today Pascal busied himself getting copies made of the aerial photos of Pirrit Hills, Martin Hills, Nash Hills and Hart Hills, and visiting the Instituto Geográfico Militar seeking maps of these features. Apparently maps do not exist.
Matt barely escaped terrible trouble when he scanned a city street through his camera viewfinder. He had the bad luck to do this outside the Israeli Embassy. Soldiers came running, with guns and questions. They only confiscated his film, however, and let him go.
Stewart set off on a tour of his own, seeking a particular historical museum. He returned with a complicated account of his travels and travails, during which he eventually did find the museum.
Activities of the other members of the group have not become a matter of record.