Another day at the PHILEAS campaign, and I don’t know what to tell you about. Should I tell you that our instruments still work admirably? This much should be expected by now. They are incredibly reliable this time around. Should I tell you about how the flights went? They went great. Scientific objectives are plentiful, and the Asian summer monsoon provides us with plenty of its air here in North America. We performed multiple double flights, with tomorrow even attempting sort of a triple flight, where we will probe a single filament for a third time utilizing trajectories. But this is nothing new. Thrilling for the experienced senior scientist surely, but not for the layman. With this blog designed to provide an alternative perspective, and with us slowing exhausting, I propose a different direction for this weeks post. Everyone has a different way to cope with pressure and strain, and some of them are rather humorous. Join me then, please, into the mind of the people of the campaign, and the strange habits that have arisen during these last days:

I see you decided to read more. A fine decision. Let us depart now on this strange journey:

Inside the bureau:

A great example of the truest reflection of a people is the space they’re living in, in our case the share bureau. When we take a peak, we can discern multiple details:

It started with a hearty welcome-message for the first arrivals here in Alaska. Mentioned by name, these must be outstanding individuals. Unfortunately a little spelling mistake tainted the wholesome atmosphere, and so one of their colleagues took it upon him to make the mistake worse. As one does.

Proudly displayed are the latest medical statistics, and it stayed on zero for quite some time back then, the unfortunate reality of this many people from different parts of the world all arriving by plane. The first day without new cases was quite celebrated actually, but not quite as much as the following day after the return of the zero strangely, an uncharacteristically cynical reaction.

From the first day on the proposed ‘campaign party’ had been on most peoples mind, even before the first flight was undertaken. The addition was made after it was decided to hold it here in the hangar. Equally important was the list of decent places to eat, which we still didn’t manage to sample all. One may notice it takes up a good third of the entire space, though. And then there’s the local network details, which for a few minutes was considered to keep confidential to the campaign members as originally envisioned, but then decided it was too much f a hassle and just post the credentials publicly. Again, as one does.

Finally, the little ‘S’ symbol may be familiar to the middle-aged reader, as this was and is a popular symbol during my childhood and littered basically everywhere, and it fills me with pride to see this stupid little tradition carried on.

Professionalism during flights:

The flight support tool ‘PLANET’ – an interface that maintains a data stream from the research craft and ground personal, as well as means of communication – is one such example. While I cannot quite disclose the flight paths or chat histories yet, as this information is still somewhat confidential until relevant data has been processed and published, I can show you what happened:

There were many flights in the first couple of weeks, and our scientists work was admirably conscientious and professional. There were a few slip-ups here and there, with the occasional joke slipping into the chat, which provides a good chuckle during the flights, until someone started the use of ASCII-art to elevate one’s point. For example, this one was used to underscore a point:

(╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

Which is fine, honestly. It is strange that one would either know this sign string by heart, or have it virtually on hand, but fine. There were also a few more ‘mature’ depictions I will refrain from displaying here, even in its pixelated glory. Archaic, you might think, to use these outdated forms of meta-communications, and you would be right, as someone found the emojis this chat supports. Had a lot of smileys, both joyful 😀, puzzled 🤨, troubled 😥 and outright vomiting 🤮 joining the chat. The ‘ping – pong’ method – in the English speaking world also known as ‘Marco – Polo’, devolved into the new ‘Ping 🎈 – Peng! 💥, and someone managed to add custom map markers to the flight path display, causing HALO to occasionally leave banana peels 🍌, various objects 👠 or the operators mood of the moment 😴 on the way, virtually littering all over the Pacific Ocean. As one does.

Campaign party

Whatever happened during the campaign party stays at the campaign party. Nobody was drunk, nobody did dance, nobody did sing. Go away now!

Is my mind slipping?

Finally, as a closing statement, I’d ask you to take a look at the following remaining pictures, and consider whether these impressions – which strangle persisted among the entire team of scientists – are somewhat plausible. And there’s more, if you care to look for it. I had my own way to cope with the situation, maybe you’d like to see more. It’s out there now:

Doesn’t this look like the middle west? I swear we’re in Alaska, why does this look like some mountain town in Texas? Even had a saloon and everything.

Isn’t it nice of them to raise an European flag for us? And why are the stars all messed up? That’s right, it’s the Alaskan flag. Nobody did get it right on the first try though.

About Jan Kaumanns

Jan Kaumanns is a PhD student at the Institute for Energy and Climate (IEK-7, Stratosphere) and a HITEC fellow. During his PhD he is researching isentropic mixing processes in filaments in the middle atmosphere. He is responsible for forecasting, flight planning and data processing during the PHILEAS campaign.

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