11 April 2008

Howling Winds and the Pis-gah

Saturday, 05 April 2008
Cave Detection in the Thermal Infrared
NASA Spaceward Bound!

Image: Pis-gah lava flow.

We rose slowly on Saturday AM. Around 0330 hr, the winds began to howl. The winds were whipping through our camp site and rattling our tents. I chose to put the storm fly on my tent the night before because I realized it was going to be chilly. I wanted to retain the extra heat that the fly would provide. Well, as y’all already know, the fly also creates a lot of noise in high winds. I woke up at 0330 and then again at 0430. By this time, the winds were stronger. I realized that if I didn’t get out of the wind, I was not going to get any sleep. So, I ultimately decided to break down my tent, empty the truck and sleep inside it. I finally got some sleep; however, the truck did rock quite a bit in the wind.

When we got up, we learned Matt’s tent had collapsed on him during the early morning hours. He awoke disoriented with the tent on top of him. It’s not a fun way to wake up. This has happened to me before and it is rather disorienting.

We decided to finish breaking camp and the Preserve and head to the Bagdad Café in Newberry Springs. Before we could go into the field, I needed to launch sensors and enter coordinates to all of our cave and non-cave features into a GPS. We had breakfast, and used this as our base of operations for a couple of hours. Once we ironed out our field logistics, we headed for Pis-gah.

Our objective for today was to select two caves and one cave like feature for our experiments. We were hopeful that we could also find one cave and one cave-like feature that fit within the field of view of our thermal imaging camera and that would be facing in the direction of the camera.

Image: Glen Cushing and Pis-gah lava flow cave.

So, we headed out across the lava flow and evaluated caves and non-cave features. We ultimately settled upon one cave and one cave-like feature and we deployed our temperature sensors. We finished our work at Pis-gah around 1800 hr. Because we had only one field vehicle on site (the other was at the Bagdad Cafe), we had to return to Newberry Springs to retrieve the other vehicle. The wind was intense all day long and was picking up in the waning sunlight. None of us were overly eager to set up camp in the wind, nor were we looking forward to staying up all night as our tents were being beaten by the high winds.

Image: Matt preparing to deploy one of our weather stations. This device logs barometric pressure, temperature and relative humidity.

We ultimately decided to get out of the wind and head to the Holiday Inn Express in Barstow. Because working underground can be extremely hazardous, we wanted to be sure we were well rested. Besides, we were meeting Murzy on Sunday and it made sense to simply meet him in Barstow.

Image: Glen exiting one of our study caves. Credit: Matt Allner.

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