Milestones and Hurdles

Again, I apologize for the delay in posting this, but you’ll soon see why.

On December 23rd I accepted a transfer to the Climate Sensors Project at Goddard, as the Metop Mission Manager–the same mission we were upgrading the 10m antenna for! I had been thinking about a change of career paths for about nine months, but I didn’t want to give up the McMurdo work I’d invested so much of the last three years in.

While I was in McMurdo, a Goddard internal job posting for a Metop Mission Manager came out which is to support the US Government’s instrument contribution to the Metop spacecraft (the same mission I was in Antarctica for the upgrade). I applied, but I didn’t believe I had a shot as it was a complete career change for me to manage flight instruments. Happily I was wrong. The interview on December 16th, by phone from an office at the JSOC in McMurdo, was (to me surreal) as I was completely relaxed and every question seemed to allow me to describe my experience with interagency work and mission focus. I even had my boots off, as we don’t wear them inside the JSOC due to the muck and volcanic grit.

Anyway, on December 23rd I accepted the job offer. I couldn’t say anything to anyone except my wife until January 11th, when the other applicants had been debriefed and a report date to the new organization had been negotiated. This negotiation lead me to re-schedule my departure for January 17th, so I could still have a couple of days in Christchurch and a week full time in my old office with a report date of January 31st, and an agreement I’d support the McMurdo work and some related activities with the Ground Network until my replacement is hired.

Departing McMurdo is always iffy. We had a weather event–it was too warm! The ice runway has to be pretty firm to support a C-17 and while Pegasus Field sits on the permanent ice pack the top layer was too mushy for the C-17 to land duriing the day–it was still daylight 24 hours a day. The temperature at downtown McMurdo was approaching 40 degrees F that day. So the aircraft was delayed till a 4am landing on the 18th.

I couldn’t sleep, so hoping I’d be able to get a few hours on the C-17 I stayed up to the 1:30am report time for transit to Pegasus. I was really wiped out by the time we got to the airfield, and I didn’t feel like doing pictures. The one below is from January 2010 and I don’t think I could have topped this as the weather was identical.

Kevin McCarthy at Pegasus Field January, 2010

I took three nights in Christchurch. My big events were six aftershocks I could feel, one hit as a 5.1, a day trip to Sumner (a beach town 12 km outside of Christchurch) the 19th, and seeing the play “Cabaret”. I’m glad I went to Sumner, it is a lovely small suburb on an amazing beach. It was great to see kids and dogs playing on the beach after two months in McMurdo! On the 19th of January, MG1 took the first Metop pass. EUMETSAT issued this press release this month .

It was fantastic to see my wife and kids at BWI airport the 21st after a 32 hour transit from Christchurch.

We are still dealing with a number of antenna issues and are running full speed at a “wall” of the required redeployment date of February 23rd for most of our the folks in McMurdo that will not winter over. Bonnie, Mike, Art, and Roy are sill at McMurdo working extremely long hours supported by Honeywell at Wallops and L-3 Datron in California seven days a week.

More to come…