Black Island / by Shaun O'Boyle

A few of the hundreds of photographs shot on Black Island on November 5th. Black Island is the communications hub for McMurdo Station. The plan is to move all communications to Ross Island and remove the station on Black Island over the next several years. The station is manned for 4 months of the year, and runs unmanned for the winter months. The problem is that if there is an equipment failure in the winter it requires a 25 mile traverse across the ice in the depth of winter when it's pitch dark and the weather is at it's worst. The reason the station is on Black Island is that it's very difficult to see communications satellites from this latitude, the dishes need to be pointed almost horizontal to pick up the signals, and Mount Erebus blocks the view from most, but not all, places on Ross Island. So, there you have your Antarctica communications lesson for today. Approaching Black Island in a helicopter. We are up 900 feet, so these ice features are large. It's an area with a lot of ice pressure from the Ross Ice Shelf pushing against the land.

Circling the station looking back toward Ross Island

Black Island Helipad

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Black Island Station

Ross Ice Shelf with 8,800 foot tall Mount discovery on right

Mount Discovery

Approaching McMurdo in a helicopter.