Living in Halley is the closest that we can of occupying a space ship get in this planet.
BAS keep an year long active base in this area, know has Halley bay, since the mid 50’s and one must amaze itself with the evolution and creative building engineering in this part of the planet until now.
The main base is composed of 8 modules that, from North to South, are:
B1 and B2 – The sleeping quarters, where my official burrow is located.
Each one of these two modules has 8 double bedrooms, which totals 16 rooms or 32 people sleeping inside the base. B1 has also 3 bathrooms and 3 toilets that serve all rooms and B2 has three storage rooms and a small library at the end.
C – The command module. This is where the base commanders have their office. In front of it is the communication office, a sort of nervous hub to all type of communications around the base: radio, telephone, Internet, satellite phones, etc… Half of all the base servers are in the room next door too and it is in this corridor that the exit log book resides, as well as the tag board for whenever you leave or enter the modules.
Finally, we still have a laundry room, the surgery, another couple of toilets and the boot room in this unit.
It is from this boot room that you can exit the base from this end. Here we keep the heavy outside clothing and its a heated division so that the snow that gathers in the heavy boots and gloves can melt an dry off.
From the boot room we access a smaller division where we keep spare radios for anyone who needs one, sunblock and lip balm for the dangerous sunny days and skis if you aren’t in the mood for walking.
A – The bigger one. All modules on base are blue except this one, which is quite visible from afar being all red and that. Its probably where most of the people spend their free time. Here we have the kitchen and the dining room in one end and a small bar with a large lounge sofa in the other.
Between them we have a pool and a ping pong table and a dart board where we can put photos of the people that piss you off and practice. In the middle of it we have a spiral staircase that take us to the first floor where in one side we have out meeting room/second library/cinema that even has a couple of telescopes to gaze at the stars on clear nights.
On the other side we have a small gym to balance out the delicious food that is prepared just below.
E1 and E2 – “E” stands for energy and that’s due to the four AVTUR electrical generators and respective fuel tanks that are housed there. These two modules are physically separated via an outside bridge for security reasons.
In them are also housed a few control rooms: water storage and filtering, sewage treatment and general waste disposal is performed here.
H1 and H2 – These are the scientific modules, where I normally live during work hours. Halfway through H1 we have an working area with your typical office apparel: desks, printers, staplers, computers and the obvious coffee and tea making facilities.
In H1 we also have the balloon room, where we process all data from the weather balloons, but it was also “peacefully” invaded by some of my GPS related projects.
Next we have the medical experiments room (I would talk about that later on, but it doesn’t involve probes nor experimental drugs…so far) and the lab were the ice and snow samples are kept and studied. It is also in this module where we have the other base exit. The south end of H1 has another smaller boot room that gives access to a small lobby (with more spare radios, skis and sunblock) that in turn allows you to exit the base by the South end.
In H2 we have another room with the rest of the base servers, the electronics and mechanical laboratories and another storage room where I can keep my project related junk.
Only A and H2 have an upper level. The upper part of this one is occupied by upper obs, a meteorological observation area, where we do all base synops, ozone measurements, among other met related duties. Its a curious area since it is a room covered with windows in all directions, which is particularly useful when you need to describe the state of the surrounding sky.
This room also as a small hatch that leads to the top of the module where most of the meteorological instrumentation resides, as some of the GPS and radio antennas. It is the best place on base to watch a sun set.
I was positively surprised when I set my foot on Halley for the first time. Until then, I only had seen a couple of interior shots compared with the thousands from the outside. When I conceived a prefabricated base in Antarctica, for some reason I assumed claustrophobic corridors where I would be constantly banging my shoulders in the corridors and the toilet door would hit my knees when I was seated in the throne.
I may have been influenced by my stay on board of the Shackleton, where every square centimeter was precious, I have to say that Halley is surprisingly spacious.
One of the things that caught my attention right from the first visit was a wall in the back of A module, right behind the bar area. This wall is completely covered in framed photos of all teams that wintered in Halley, since the first wooden shack back in 1956 to this fiber glass caterpillar. The last foto is from the team that we are about to replace, the 2015 Winter.
Its weird thinking that one day my mug is going to be immortalized around here!