Department of Physics

Expedition 5 getting ready for Antarctic visit

The fifth Antarctic expedition from the Otago Space Physics group is preparing for their trip South. Dr James Brundell, the event leader, is currently working alongside Dr Ian Whittaker, to undertaken noise tests and become familiar with some of the experimental equipment they will use when south. The team is scheduled to travel to Scott Base on Monday 26 November 2012 for a eight-day intensive working period. The logistics support, comprising air transport, accommodation, and all other on-ice support is provided through Antarctica New Zealand Event K060.

Dr. Ian Whittaker undertakes a noise measurement with our portable VLF antenna on the rugby field across the road from the Otago Department of Physics [13 Nov 2012].


James and Ian are heading to Scott Base to work on Otago's AARDDVARK radio receiver which is located at Arrival Heights, not far from Scott Base. James was one of the two man Space Physics team who deployed this radio receiver in December 2008. The main aim for Expedition 5 is to move our experiment from one room of the New Zealand lab at Arrival Heights into a neighbouring room, as well as gathering up our high resolution data. In late 2010 a powerful LIDAR experiment was installed by US researchers in the room our experiment was located. The new LIDAR experiment has led to some issues for our experiment, which we hope to mitigate by moving next door. Ian and James will also undertake measurements of the VLF noise in and around the Arrival Heights area, and make sure the antenna, mast and cables have survived the harsh winter weather - we had to replace one of our long data cables last season as part of Expedition Four, and replaced the antenna cable as part of Expedition Three.

Mr. Peter McCabe working on the computer which controls our experiment during his visit in November-December 2011. With the LIDAR installation, the working conditions are somewhat cramped, which along with interference and health and safety issues have encouraged us to move [2 Dec 2011; Photo Credit: Dr James Brundell].

Assuming all goes to plan, Ian and James leave Dunedin on Sunday 25 November 2012, flying to Christchurch to be issued their Antarctic clothing by Antarctica New Zealand and have initial briefings. The next day they should fly on a US Air Force C17 Globemaster II down to the Ross Sea. After completing safety briefings, some level of Antarctic Field Training and getting their Antarctic driving license, the two man team should be ready to get to work a day or two later.