Monday, May 29, 2006

Midnight Sun

Do I look a little tired in this photo. It was taken at midnight on the 29th of May. I was also pretty cold. The temperature was in the 40's and the wind was blowing about 20 mph up on the top of the hill. If the clouds had not been in the way, the sun would have been visible off my left shoulder. Maybe we will have another clear night and get a real midnight sun photo.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Scandinavian Design

Fans of Ikea would love our dorm. It is all very clean and modern looking with very functional designs for everything. Our rooms are just the right size for one person and their "stuff". The beds are just a little larger than a twin and very comfortable. The windows have blinds, a really thick shade, and drapes. This is important since there is no more sunset. They have about 50 days of constant sunlight now. We are about 95 miles north of the Arctic Circle. Not a lot of activity today since it was Sunday, but I got to go for a run. Several of the guys brought DVD's so we have movie night about every night.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Reindeer for Supper

Kids, don't read this!

We had Reindeer stroganoff for supper tonight. It was pretty tasty. There was a lot of "I wonder who it is, Dasher, Dancer . . .?"

The clouds seem to be breaking, and we are going to try for a launch in the morning. This is the science group that is ahead of us. We will be next when we are flight ready. The pace getting the electronics installed has been pretty relaxed since we have one group ahead of us. I hope we will be flight ready soon. I'm including a photo of the building where we are working and of a sounding balloon launch this morning. Not much else to report. I have been working on check lists and doing what I can to be as ready as possible when the electronics guys are ready for me.

Thursday, May 25, 2006


This is a strange business I'm in. I've gone from cold winter in Texas down to hot summer in Australia in one day. Now I've gone from hot in Texas up to Cold summer in Sweden in one day. It's the end of May and it snowed for about three hours this morning. The temperature was in the upper thirties, so it did not accumulate. We have better weather for the weekend forecast so maybe I'll get to see the sun as it travels in a big low circle around the horizon. That will be interesting.

The balloon preparations are going well and we will begin installing the electronics in the balloon tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Settling In

My first full day at Esrange. The balloon setup is going very quickly. We've done this enough times that we know what to do next. There is no standing around thinking about it. Since we are about twenty miles from town, we have an on-site cafeteria. The food is good and they serve local food with some accommodations for us Americans. We had hamburgers for lunch today. We went into the town of Kiruna for dinner tonight. We ate an American style sports bar. It was complete with Boston Red Sox banners and other sports stuff. The food was pretty good.

It is strange seeing the sky the same brightness 24 hours a day. It has been overcast since I got here, so I have not seen the sun yet. I woke up about 3 a.m. and saw the sun shining from behind the blinds - strange. In the walk to the building we are working in, I saw that there is hardly any grass growing in the area, just moss and lichens. The pine trees resemble the ones you see in the mountains, but they are all small - no more than 8" in diameter.

The dorm is brand new. We each have a privat room and bath. The rooms are pretty small, but it's all I need. We have high speed internet also. Just what you would expect from some place that houses scientists.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Trip to Esrange

The trip to Stockholm was bearable – barely. The flight from DFW to O’Hare featured a very talented young lady a couple of rows ahead of me. She could produce a scream that sounded remarkably like a police whistle. She must have thought it was entertaining to her fellow passengers because she demonstrated it for us on very short intervals almost the entire way in to O’Hare. Ahh the joys of air travel. I also have noticed lately that the airlines have optimized their schedules so that there is no such thing as an unoccupied seat. Since my tickets required a day-of-travel seat assignment, I had the added pleasure of sitting in a middle seat the entire way.

Check in for the flight to Stockholm was not a problem. O’hare had a nice train to travel between terminals. It is always a million miles from the domestic terminal to the international terminal. The flight to Stockholm was about eight hours. Once again a middle seat on a totally full flight. This one featured another crying baby and a guy in my row who sneezed loudly every ten seconds for what I know was a half hour during the flight. The food was fine. We had a ham and cheese sandwich with breakfast. Must be a Swedish thing. Immigration in Stockholm was a breeze and customs was nonexistent. As usual, it was a major hike to the domestic terminal.

The flight to Kiruna was less than 1 ½ hours. It is jacket weather here: about 50° F. The remnants of the 6” snowfall from last week are still in the shady areas. The landscape is a combination of tundra and mountain forest. I have not taken any photos yet, but I’ll post them when I do.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Headed to Kiruna

We have approval from NASA for the next test flight from ESRANGE in Kiruna, Sweden. Stay tuned for posts on the adventures above the Arctic Circle. Remember to hit the refresh button to load the page with the latest posts!