Saturday, April 25, 2009

Day 31, 4/25/09 -- The day after

Last night's test of the gondola/ACS was, by all accounts, a resounding success. The ACS team got the gondola scanning back and forth, with all of the sensors working, downlinking data over the transmitters and commanding through the telemetry system -- the whole works. Really awesome. Great job guys and gals! Also, big props to the NASA crew who stayed all night to support the effort.

Since I left early last night (2AM as opposed to ~9AM for the ACS team), the high bay was relatively deserted. Hannes flew back to Minnesota today for a little break, so Fran├žois, Ilan, and Dan were the only other people in the high bay all morning besides me and Jeff. Dan continued doing calibration tests, and we had quite a scare when it seemed that some of Dan's data (a few hours worth!) accidentally got deleted from the computer's hard drive! It turns out that, besides there being another copy of the data on another computer (albeit in a less-accessible form), it turns out the data files weren't even deleted in the first place. Whew!

Shaul showed up today as well, and proceeded to get a rundown on the status of all major systems from the relevant parties. Jeff and I spent a fair part of the afternoon painting some of the exposed metal on the gondola. It turns out that, in the near-space environment of a high-altitude balloon, the sun can warm up bare aluminum to hundreds of degrees Celsius! Painting it white not only reduces the amount of sunlight absorbed, but also increases the amount of heat that can be radiated away, keeping the entire thing cool. Pretty neat!

A few pictures today at:

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