Jessy, Kevin, Paul, Bob, Zoe and Jack attending
Kevin reported on his recent trip to Summit, which he clearly felt was very informative. He was on station for 4 days so got good briefing on all the infrastructure, and spent a lot of time with Dave and staff thinking about how the transition from SOB to the new mobile garage with separate power/water module and a stand-alone surface science facility would actually be executed. Key challenge is how to maintain essential functions during the actual move. Per the current schedule, this will still happen in summer 2016 but is contingent on getting the mobile garage design and procurement processes into high gear this year.
Paul gave an executive summary of the GLT/NSF/CPS meetings that happened in early July (he had earlier shared minutes with SCO). In his view the most significant decision was that GLT will need to find the financial resources to procure and deploy all infrastructure that is needed to construct and operate the telescope. This direction is in response to the uncertainty regarding RSL capital budgets from year to year, making it nearly impossible to plan, fund and deploy shared resources. While this may mean that some opportunities for efficiency through shared infrastructure will be missed, it should also mean that GLT and RSL can make progress on installing the telescope and redeveloping Summit, respectively, as their own resources allow.
Paul also announced that Roberto had a great opportunity that he could not pass up and would be leaving SAO on 6 Aug. While happy for Roberto, we will miss him.
Jack asked how the new model with GLT and Isi advancing sort of independently might impact transport from the coast to Summit (especially via GrIT but possibly also via Hercs)? Specifically, if the two schedules collided in a way that resulted in way too much “critical” cargo in Thule in a certain year, how would GrIT prioritize, or how would the 2 groups decide what was the priority for GrIT? Paul said that right now the funding and schedules appear to mesh reasonably well, with RSL likely to dominate GrIT demand in 2016 (SOB replacement), and the GLT group planning to move all of their oversize cargo in 2017 and 2018 (coinciding with a point in the Isi schedule heavy with design/procurement/and transport to Thule; but little cargo all the way to Summit). However, Paul also noted that the cargo GLT hopes to move in both 2017 and 2018 is approximately twice the capacity of GrIT if the current mode of a single trip with 4 tractors is maintained. Could be strong motivation for the split fleet mode of operation for GrIT. Jack asked if this implied that AWO was now delayed until 2019 at earliest, Kevin and Paul confirmed.
While not discussed on the call today, the likely GrIT bottleneck in many of the next several years also implies increased reliance on Hercs to deliver fuel (meeting minutes referred to above do state that it is assumed that all fuel will be flown in to Summit, at least through development phase). At some point this will require the number of flights per season to increase, perhaps by a lot. (In a presentation Kevin made at the traverse workshop he estimated that approximately 40 flights per year would be required just for fuel from 2019 onward, compared to recent average of 17 flights/season. Of course, the fuel use estimates need to be validated and refined.)
Bob asked whether the separation of financial responsibility raised the prospect that the GLT and Isi might turn into neighbors with 2 separate managements. Paul feels that SAO does not really want to operate a remote camp and assume all responsibility for life support, SAR, etc.; rather they would like to operate a telescope at a remote camp operated by NSF and seem willing to pay some form of user fee to support these other functions.
Jessy turned the call to Summit updates: biggest news is that the BH lift is on track to happen tomorrow (25 July), and that the VSAT upgrade will require that Summit be off the internet for several days next week (details were provided in an email from SRI to the community shortly after the call). She also noted that another medevac was required on 21 July to move a staff member to hospital in Iceland. Replacement person was transported to Summit today. We believe this brings the total number of people evacuated from Summit this season to 7, which is well above normal and probably a record. Jessy also noted that some material needed for the ventilation upgrade in TAWO did not arrive this FP, but the construction crew has a plan to do most of the job over the next 3 weeks and complete it during FP 6 when the parts should be on hand. Jessy also reported that following the 21 July SuPR meeting Ryan Neely and CPS were leaning toward asking NSF if deployment could be delayed one year, with operation extended out to 2018. The project is clearly more complex than either the PIs or CPS realized, and more time for planning the best solution could be valuable.
We discussed all of the unplanned flights this summer, and also the concern that keeping news about the medevacs under tight wraps risked proliferation of poorly informed rumors (see comments near the end of the 22 July SCO call). Jessy said that even within CPS the information about mishaps was not widely shared, and in some cases probably needed to be more available. She noted that she only learned about the 21 July Summit medevac when she saw that Summit was giving aviation weather reports on a day when no flight was scheduled. She also mentioned a flood event that caused injury to researcher near Kanger this season. Someone from the victim’s institution called the office seeking more information, and no one nearby the phone knew what they were talking about. We are sure that many folks within CPS had detailed knowledge of the incident, and that they responded well, but it would seem appropriate to provide enough information to the larger group (while protecting privacy of the victim) so that anyone asked about it would at least know who they should refer the questioner to.
We mentioned the RSL safety workshop that Bob and Jack attended and noted that there had been a lot of very interesting discussion about instituting a “near miss” debriefing as policy. Idea was basically that open sharing of episodes that could have resulted in tragedy, but fortunately did not, should help others avoid approaching similar near misses. Jessy said that she was sure there would be discussions along these lines within CPS. SCO offered to assist in any way possible or desired.