3 MARCH 1995

I have the coolest system in the world and I want to tell you all about it. It is an Inmarsat M Satphone, it's the way I communicate with the outside world. Mary Ann told you that I'm going to be on the radio and on the Today Show, well when you hear me talking I'm using the Inmarsat M Satphone. Here's how it works. It looks like a briefcase and inside there a phone. I connect the Satphone to a battery (I told you about solar energy and batteries last week when I wrote about generating electricity.) I have to connect it to the battery each time I'm going to make or receive a call. I don't have enough electricity to leave it on all the time. I have an antenna mounted on the roof of "Gadget Hut" which is connected to the Satphone. That is all I have to do, connect to a battery and turn it on. It is that simple. I'm ready to receive a phone call from a radio or television station. The station has to dial the telephone number which is just like your phone number at home. You're phone number is longer than you realise because you have a country code that you don't have to use unless you are calling from outside your country. For example: Australia from the United States, Australia's country code is 61 and New Zealand's country code is 64. Satphones are mobile so they aren't assigned any particular country's code, they have one that covers a huge region of the earth. I'm in the area of the world that is covered by the Pacific Ocean Region satellite so my code is 872. The rest of my Satphone number is just like a telephone number. The radio station picks up their telephone and dials me. As long as I have connected to the battery and turned the telephone on, it will ring. There are four satellites stationed around the world near the equator. They are Atlantic Ocean East, Atlantic Ocean West, Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean. Australia is overlapped by the Indian and Pacific Ocean satellite coverage. New Zealand is very nicely situated in the Pacific Ocean Region. When Sir Douglas Mawson was here at Commonwealth Bay from 1911 to 1914 he made the first radio contact from mainland Antarctica to Australia. His radio message was relayed by Macquarie Island. High technology has certainly changed the way an explorer or an adventurer keeps in touch. Do you know who else might need a Satphone? I can think of about ten or fifteen different users for Satphone other than adventurers.

Margie and I celebrated talking to students in the United States and Japan by baking a chocolate cake in our kerosene oven. We toasted modern technology with glasses of pure Antarctic water from the lake. It hasn't been very windy lately. The highest wind speed was 62 knots. The coldest temperature was minus 18 Celsius. We have had another blizzard. It started with rain! It's only the second time it has rained since we have been here. I was warm only -2 and there was very little wind. It was about 10 o'clock at night and we heard this patter on the roof of "Gadget Hut." Margie said, "That's not snow, it can't be snow, it's not windy enough." It didn't last long. The next day it started to snow. It snowed heaps, it just kept snowing and snowing and everything got covered. There was not one thing showing anywhere in sight that wasn't covered in snow. We got about 30 to 45 centimetres of snow. It was really weird because it started off as lots of different crystals with six points in the morning. By the middle of the day it turned into little fluffs of cotton wool. It was so light we could pick it up by the handful and blow it into the air like dandelion fluff. The next day the wind came and blew all the snow away. So we're back to bare rocks again. I hope you saw what this area looks like on the Today Show.

On the 27th of February we got a call from the ice- breaker, Kaptain Khlebinkov from 8 nautical miles offshore. We were really excited about getting visitors. Margie had a bath, I cleaned my teeth and we put the kettle on to give them a cup of tea. The wind was blowing about 20 or 30 knots all day but it was beautiful and sunny. We went up on a rocky outcrop here and held up the Australian flag but I don't think they could see it. We kept talking to them on the VHF radio but they couldn't get the ice-break into the bay. At the end of the day they decided to come ashore by helicopter. They have a really big one that can hold 20 passengers. I went over to Mawson's hut to make sure there was no wildlife around that would be disturbed by the landing of a helicopter. There is a big helipad there with crosses marked in the ice. Everything was ready and they said they'd be ashore in five minutes. We watched as they loaded everyone on the helicopter, revved up the engines and the rotor began to turn. The ice- breaker was rolling from side to side and then they turned off the helicopter. We got the radio message. It wasn't going to be possible to get the helicopter safely ashore and then back onto the ice-breaker. We watched the Kaptain Khlebinkov motor away and thought about the people on board enjoying sauna, hot spas, shower, movies, libraries and lounge rooms. It made me feel just a little of what Mawson and his men must have felt when the Aurora had to leave them.

I mentioned last week that we can get radio now that the darkness is returning. Here are some amazing facts, in March will have 12 hours of daylight each day, April 8, May 4, June 0, July 2, August 7, September 11, October 15, November 19, December and January 24. I guess you know why that happens. It's time for me to turn on the radio and listen to your weather.

Keep warm,
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