Edge of the Arctic Shelf
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Polar Star Passageway
One of the many passageways on the Polar Star.
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Daily Update

Dispatch 02 - July 16, 2002
By C.A. Linder

Weather conditions: overcast skies, light and variable winds, calm seas, air temperature 50° F

Where’s My Room Again?
Our first night was a whirlwind. It still seems unreal to me that we are actually at sea on a 400-foot-long icebreaker steaming toward the Arctic Ocean. (It certainly helps that the seas are calm, so the ship hardly seems like it’s moving).

As soon as we arrived onboard last night, we were whisked around the ship by our gracious hosts and given an orientation lecture. I knew the Polar Star was a big ship, but I certainly wasn’t prepared for the confusing warren of passageways and flow of people.

HH-65 Dolphin helicopters
One of the ship’s two HH-65 Dolphin helicopters.
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“You will get lost,” warned Marine Science Officer Paul Rodriguez. And, sure enough, I did. There was, however, always a friendly face to turn me in the right direction. In fact, there are 164 friendly faces on the Polar Star, and it’s quite likely that I won’t meet or even see everyone before the cruise is done. The science party interacts mainly with the staff of the Marine Science Department, the experts in operating the shipboard scientific equipment safely and efficiently. But there are a whole host of other people who keep the ship’s engines finely tuned, who maneuver this massive vessel, and who prepare three hot meals a day for the crew.

In the course of getting lost several times, I stumbled upon some really fascinating parts of the ship. The Polar Star’s two HH-65 Dolphin helicopters are stored in a hangar near the rear. They are the ship’s eyes, used to scout the ice in advance of the vessel to find open leads. Around other corners I found a substantial weight room and sauna, a small movie theater, a barber shop, an infirmary, and even the “Polar Starbucks,” which serves up tasty hot beverages.

Polar Starbucks
Dave Maly serves up some cappuccino at the “Polar Starbucks.”
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While getting acquainted with the layout of the ship, we also have been hurriedly unpacking and testing the hundred of thousands of dollars worth of scientific equipment. At sea, time is precious. Losing a few days to bad weather or an equipment malfunction can mean the difference between success and failure for the expedition. You can’t run to the hardware store to pick up something you have forgotten, and you won’t get a few extra days of ship time. We have to make sure that when we arrive “on station” - at the various sites where experiments will be conducted -- no time is wasted. That’s why we have packed spares of almost everything, from lead weights to instrument parts to batteries for my digital camera.

Setting up
From left, Aaron Morello and Marine Science Technicians Sean McPhilany and Lee Brittle set up the main science laboratory space.

Click here for more photos of the
laboratory set up.

If you want to collect useful data, it is essential to properly calibrate the instruments. So tomorrow will be an important day: we will test one of our primary sensor packages, the CTD. Mooring technicians will also ready their gear for the first mooring deployment in the central Chukchi Sea, which could happen in the next few days.

We look forward to your questions, which you can email to arcticedge@whoi.edu.

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