4. Oct.30, 1998, Friday: Punta Arenas
Pascal, Liam, Nicolas and I spent the day buying field supplies at a bewildering number of stores. We had the possibility of leaving for Patriot Hills as early as Saturday, Oct. 31 but later today we learned that the earliest we can depart will be Sunday, Nov.1. That's quite okay with me, because for every day our trip is postponed we will be that much closer to warmer (read: less cold) weather. The report is that temperatures at Patriot Hills are -40 deg. C. Coincidentally, this equals -40 deg. F. But the wind chill factor drops the effective temperature to - 70 deg. C, equal to -94 deg F. This is much lower than anything in my previous experience and I'm somewhat apprehensive about how I'll react to it. Well, we'll see. I expect some of the others will find it kind of shocking at first.
The other team members worked with Nomad today, initially replacing all its external sensors, which had had to be dismantled for shipping. Thus, while the robot looked sleek and competent while being rolled out of the C-130 yesterday, it was essentially deaf, dumb and blind. They would have made more progress today, but had to stop in the middle of the afternoon for a press conference, driving Nomad around on the tarmac for the benefit of the photographers. As it happened, the press watched Nomad drive with a joystick control outside the hangar. We gave a short description of the program and the goals for this expedition. The journalists took many pictures of the robot. The Israeli Air Force Commander - in - Chief and the Israeli Ambassador also visited the display. They showed interest in the development of the robot and its significance in long term planetary exploration missions. One wonders if there was any connection with Matt's mishap of a couple of days earlier?