wireless data connections!

We study many streams in the Dry Valleys. These streams are located far enough apart to justify the use of helicopters to get back and forth. Our streams gages consist of very expensive science equipment, which helps us measure stream dynamics, such as water height, water temperature, and specific conductivity. Given the distance between sites, the very expensive (and delicate!) science gear, and the extreme conditions of Antarctica – monitoring streams in the Dry Valleys costs a lot of money!

When something breaks at a gage site, it is always best to know ahead of time. Prior knowledge of field failures saves money in the long run, because we’d only need one helicopter trip to fix the problem, rather than two (one to discover the problem, and the other to go back and fix it). Turns our, helicopters are not the cheapest mode of transportation.

To help us get an idea of what is happening at sites very far away, some gages can radio-transmit real-time data via a series of radio and satellite connections to a computer we can easily access.  So, before we visit a site, we can look at the data to see if something looks funky. Usually funky or unusual data means a mechanical or electrical problem, which requiring maintenance.

Today, Chris and I worked to set up a new radio repeater on Mt Loke. Radio repeaters, take an incoming radio signal and repeat it so it can be received at some location far away. Radios only work by line-of-sight. So if you and your pal each have a walkie-talkie radio, then generally speaking, if you can see one another – you can talk to one another. At our main camp, F6, we certainly cannot see most of the stream gages in the Valleys. So, we use a series of radio repeaters to transmit real-time data, such that we can see it at F6.

Here are a few photos from our trip. Lucky for us, radio repeaters are located up in the mountains with a great view (line-of-sight) of places all through the valley.


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