“Okay, Berlin, we’ve had a problem here.” Concordia 2016

Credits: ESA/IPEV/PNRA-E. Kaimakamis

White Mars Credits: ESA/IPEV/PNRA-E. Kaimakamis

Taken from ESA-sponsored medical doctor in Antarctica Floris van den Berg’s personal blog:

People often refer to Concordia as the “White Mars”, and not just because of the harsh winter extremes, but also due to its remote location. It is completely inaccessible for nine months a year, and in the three summer months that it is possible to travel here, it’s still quite a journey before the Two Towers emerge from the miles and miles of snow and ice.

Credits: ESA-F. van den Berg

Credits: ESA-F. van den Berg

For the BONE study, a mobile CT-scanner had to make the long journey to Antarctica, and you can only imagine my excitement to unbox my new ‘toy’.  That excitement was quickly dampered when I opened the box and saw the damage. Somewhere on the way from Berlin, maybe while being shipped to New Zealand or flown to Mario Zucchelli station, possibly on the final flight to the Concordia Station, a forklift drove 30 cm into my precious cargo and destroyed the front of ‘my’ new CT-scanner.

“Okay, Berlin, we have a problem”

Just like in space, you can technically call a repair guy, but the chances of him showing up are slim to none. So when I reported the condition of my scanner to Berlin, the team delegated me to be the repair guy this time. Luckily, the damage was mainly external, and after disassembling it to remove little pieces of plastic from inside the machine, it seemed to work… Yes!

Credits: ESA/IPEV/PNRA-F. van den Berg

Credits: ESA/IPEV/PNRA-F. van den Berg

“If you can’t fix it with Duct-tape, you’re not using enough Duct-tape!”

For cosmetic reasons, I opted to abandon my Duct-tape idea and go with a more transparent option. After changing a safety light and reassembling the machine, it was now time to test my repairs. The results were good! I did it.

“Okay, Berlin, we’ve fixed the problem here.”

Did I feel a little closer to the Apollo 13 crew? For sure. With all help so far away, it’s nice to see that all my years of playing with Technical Lego finally paid off and may have even given me my next job title!

Floris van den Berg, Repair Guy.

Temperature -33,5°C. Windchill -44.3°C. 24 hours of daylight.