Thursday, 3 March 2016

Fieldwork Week 2: The European Incoherent Scatter Radar (EISCAT) + Miscellaneous other stoofs.

Tip of the day: When bum-sledding, remember to wear goggles and something to keep snow out of your mouth.

So Sunday the 14th seems a pretty good place to start, MY BIRTHDAY! 

For those astute members of my audience they will notice that's also Valentines day. Yay. At least it gives single people a reason to celebrate the day; silver lining huh? Anyway so the day got off to a slow start with zero motivation to get out of bed, shortly followed by a late breakfast and a visit to Ryan and Miriams to play some Age of Empires along with Kieran. Turns out this was a ploy to get me out of my room so they could dismantle it and rebuild in some messed up order with several items that were once well placed, now cling-filmed or aluminium foiled together and stuck in various places. So there I was heading back to my room thinking we were about to think up some food plans for the evening to find that all hell had broken loose. My exclamation of "What the s***?" was rapidly followed by a chorus of laughter from the kitchen where my cohorts had been hiding the entire time. With cake. So I let them off.

After the task of attempting to locate some of my belongings in the mess and coming across some Lego presents (Star Wars of course) I speedily built the beautiful presents and was taken out to a mystery location for some food. Turns out they had booked a table in Kroa, a really lovely restaurant in town, and we'd managed to secure the large table to ourselves which was awesome! Tried whale for the first time and had some of the most beautiful steak. After which we headed back and grabbed a film and a bottle of wine. Lucy bought me the most beautiful glass with a polar bear on it, so it was of course time to baptise that. And that all but concluded the day and it was awesome.

And, unsurprisingly, back to work we had to go.

But it wasn't the case that any of us complained about this. This week we were spending the evenings up at EISCAT, for those that want a little background about EISCAT, I would direct you to Ryan and Miriams page as they'll no doubt go into huge detail about it at some point (Cheers guys!).

The main piece of information needed is that this is a radar that is designed to study the ionosphere (mainly) with additional uses being extended to lower altitudes. The main parameters that we measured were the electron density, electron temperature, ion temperature, and ion drift velocity (scary techie terms). Cutting a long story short we got some incredible data and even the lecturers and researchers were surprised by some of the things that we were seeing. Unfortunately though, there was a lot of cloud over the days at EISCAT and so we didn't get much of a chance to picture any of the Aurora whilst up there ( sad face ). Also it may have been apparent that whilst at KHO the week prior, we consumed some Pizza... Well that was nothing in comparison to the amount consumed in EISCAT, so much so that we nearly gassed out the fire alarm with Pizza fumes and that could have resulted in a hefty fine as the fire services would have been automatically called, close call! Only to be made even more fantastic by the fact that one of our course leaders (Kjellmar) tried banning us from eating any more up there, only to send us a picture of him eating one on the last day when we got the day off, hilarious guy!

Photo credit to Anja Strømme

Here are a few of the pictures from our time at EISCAT:

This is about the point where I started preparing for PhD applications and interviews and so lots of things took a bit of a knock including the act of updating the blog so I'm just simply going to say it's been a busy and semi-stressful few weeks. I have my application sent to Aberystwyth now and I completed the interview for Mullard Space Science Laboratories (MSSL) on Monday and should hear back within the next 2 ish weeks as to the outcome. Cross every finger you can find for me!

However, I was able to peel myself away from work to do a few hikes and walks including a hike up Trollsteinen and a short waddle across the fjord to the other side of Adventdalen. Both of the hikes were fantastic but the Trollsteinen one was definitely the highlight with some of the most incredible views and bum-sledding down, especially with the slowly returning sun! Lloyd, David, Kieran and myself also took a trip up the side of the valley to look around the old Mine 2b, it's only taken me 2 months to get around to doing it...

With the aim of catching up on here, I've collated some of the footage of the walks and some of the pictures and to those coming here next year, I'll simply say that you have to hike these routes to truly understand how beautiful and fantastic they are and simply describing it won't do it justice, I also don't want to ruin the surprise :D

So without further ado:

Mine 2b:



As always, it's such an incredible experience being up here and I only hope that I'm getting some of that across to you all. Here's some footage to prove it!

Time for a cuppah I think.

(p.s. I know you're reading this Dawn, I'm on to you now!)

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