Department of Physics

Expedition 6 preparing for Antarctic travel

The sixth Antarctic expedition from the Otago Space Physics group is preparing for their trip South. Dr James Brundell, the event leader, has been preparing with Space Physics PhD student Aaron Hendry. They will be testing new monitoring equipment as we investigate the possibility of new recording sites around Ross Island. The team is scheduled to travel to Scott Base on Monday 4 November 2013 for a ten-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. James Brundell and Mr. Aaron Hendry with the the portable VLF antenna and the new preamp system on the rugby field across the road from the Otago Department of Physics [29 October 2013].


James and Aaron 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, and has returned multiple times since. The main aim for Expedition 6 is check the VLF radio noise for sites near Scott Base, in case we need to move from our existing recording site near New Zealand lab at Arrival Heights. The radio interference levels at Arrival Heights are quite bad, apparently due to the Ross Island Wind Farm. It has been suggested that new wind turbines may be installed on Ross Island in the future, and the most likely site is said to be Arrival Heights. We are therefore preparing for a possible move away from the existing site, and want to check if we can undertake our AARDDVARK and WWLLN science observations from near Scott Base itself.


Aaron and James will also undertake measurements of the VLF noise in and around the Arrival Heights area to see how this is changing with time. They will also 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. Finally, it will be important to see how the experiment has faired since the move inside the New Zealand lab at Arrival Heights which was undertaken as part of Expedition Five.


Assuming all goes to plan, James and Aaron leave Dunedin on Sunday 3 November 2013, 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.