West Lake Bonney, Taylor Valley, Antarctica
Reporting from Blood Falls Basecamp
Today we decided that we would use our last day of mission runs to approach the glacier face for one final time this year. While we have been able to map the glacier surface with the DeltaT over the past several days, the murky water has prevented us from taking the photographs we had hoped to mosaic and overlay onto the 3D surface map we have. Still eager to get some good images despite the poor visibility, Kristof suggested sending the bot to within a few meters of the glacier, closer than our previous stand-off distance. Maybe closer to the face we would be able to get some good images, we hoped. To minimize the risk of any bumping or snagging hazards we decided to visit a flat, uncomplicated stretch of the face that we had spotted in the sonar data from the past few missions.
Since the navigation systems lost lock the last time we approached the glacier close-up, we were cautious in our approach this time. The bot continued to function properly during the entire mission but unfortunately the poor visibility in the water thwarted our attempts to take photos, even at our closer range. The bot returned home and we pulled it out of the icy drink for the last time this year. With our last mission now completed, all that remains for us is to pack up our equipment, break down the bot house and return home to finish processing all of the data that we’ve collected. Goodbye Lake Bonney—we’ll see you again next year!
The lake’s currently cloudy water made photographing the glacier face practically impossible. Still, it is possible to make out vague shapes and variations in color in these two photos taken by the bot’s horizontal-facing camera today.
Here is the first image from above, digitally processed to show more detail.
A parting shot of our camp a Blood Falls before we start packing up.
Reporting by Vickie Siegel