Thursday, June 20, 2013

Earth in the Foreground: How I Managed a Research Trip to Alaska

Flying into a Beautiful, Sunny, Hot Fairbanks
This project requires a good introduction of Ed Moriarty. I first met Ed at a summer camp at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF). At ASRA (Alaska Summer Research Academy), Ed was everywhere. He would stop by every module checking in on whatever cool things we were up to. He was also very involved in and taught the Underwater ROV and Extreme Photography Modules for a few years. Ed has done a bunch of cool things in Alaska to spread awareness and get kids excited/inspired about science and technology. 

Recently, we were talking about ASRA, and he had mentioned that he's been dreaming about getting a 24 hour time-lapse video of the sun above the Arctic Circle in Alaska for quite a long time. So, I looked into it, received a grant from the MIT's CAMIT Arts Grants, and started building a device to take a moving time lapse. A couple weeks passed, and I hopped on a plane to Fairbanks, 181 miles below Finger Mountain and our decided video location. Not only is Fairbanks a good location for setting up equipment, but it's also the location of my family's house. Here's the story of my adventures researching back home.

I don't normally take pictures outside an airplane window. However, Ed told me to take pictures... "Take LOTS of pictures." So why not...

Waking up after a 2 hour nap, 10 hours of flying and 43 hours of sleepless exhaustion (prior to the nap), I looked out my window and saw this...

 Somewhere down near Mt. Saint Elias around Southeast Alaska.

Merging Glaciers! Whoah!

The Alcan Highway
 My Dad's driving a new truck up this road from Portland.

That cloud looks a bit different
Forest Fire Cloud

 I could just barely make out a faint orange glow through the smoke.

 I wonder if there will be a faint smoke smell in Fairbanks...

Tananana River
Funny thing about the name of the Tanana River (and essentially any other river in Alaska ending with "na"): The Native Alaskan equivalent to "river" is "na"; therefore "the Tanana" is really the "Tana River"... not the Tana River River. 

Fort Wainright
And... basically all of Fairbanks.

Chena Hot Springs road. 

My Neighborhood
McGrath (and potentially my old childhood home on Frog Pond Circle) with Fairbanks in the upper distance and the airstrip on the upper right. 

I was so excited to see my house! I always wondered whether I would get to fly over Fairbanks and see it. So awesome :) great way to start the trip. 

Fairbankorage or Anchorbanks
The developed part in the center of the photograph used to look like the bottom of the photograph until a few years ago. They call it Fairbankorage or Anchorbanks, because, like a tumor of populated Anchorage, it's growing in the heart of the Golden Valley. 

Che River River
I might get to go kayaking on the Chena with my Mom. 

Touchdown... I knew that the Fairbanks International Airport was small... but now that I think about it, it's tiny! Maybe I've just acclimated to Boston's huge population. 

90 degrees outside! Glad to be home :)...

No comments:

Post a Comment