Technical Update from Alex Foessel

Expedition Report from William Cassidy

24. Nov. 19, 1998, Thursday: Patriot Hills Camp

Woke up this morning to driving snow. This could be a poor results day if the snow doesn't let up. Visibility was initially very poor-- a partial whiteout in which we couldn't see Patriot Hills and there was almost no surface definition. We must wait until this weather condition plays itself out.

Today we learned once again that Antarctica can punch your ticket in other ways beside poor weather. Liam and Mike went out to Nomad as the weather got better and better during the afternoon. The gasoline-engine generator started up nicely but after about five minutes, it seized. Checking, they found it was out of oil, even though the oil gauge read "full" and the low-oil cutoff switch had not prevented starting. What other damage this may have caused, if anything, remained to be seen. Alex, Mike, Peta and Moncho (two Chilean mechanics) went back after dinner to learn what they could. They were back in two hours with bad news: the crankcase is cracked, and the robot's motor is not going to run anymore. They took a photo of the damage; the crack looks about six inches long. Now we must explore the possibility of hooking up the 5 kw generator we have been using in camp, get it to run Nomad, and perhaps tow it behind as it travels. Hopefully, this will be possible and allow us to complete the field agenda.