Thursday, April 2, 2009

Day 7, 4/1/09 -- Just talkin' 'bout shaft.

Damn right.

Today was Ilan, François, and Kevin's first day in Fort Sumner. They all got right to work on cryostat housekeeping and detector readout electronics. Jeff started with the assembly of the half-wave-plate driveshaft assembly, a slightly convoluted piece of hardware that allows a motor from outside the cryostat at 300K in the ambient environment to turn the half-wave-plate at 4K in vacuum. It's a tricky bit of 'kit' (as Will might say), with multiple bearings, flexible couplings, low-thermal-conductivity shafts, etc.

Before Ilan left Minnesota, he had sent a shipment via FedEx Freight with some additional hardware that we needed to close up the cryostat. Unfortunately, since Fort Sumner is a small town (in fact, a 'village', as Daniel likes to point out), FedEx decided that they didn't want to drive a truck from Roswell (yes, THAT Roswell) 80-some-odd-miles north to us just to deliver our shipment. They were planning on gathering up a few more shipments and driving it up tomorrow. I told Jeff we wanted our stuff ASAP, so he and Daniel drove the hour and a half to the FedEx facility to pick up the shipment.

Around the same time, Jerry drove out to Albuquerque to pick up Hannes, who got in around 6PM. Once they returned, they got right back to work -- Jerry on the star camera, and Hannes on the focal plane array of detectors that he brought with him in his luggage. I started putting the final bits on the optics stack assembly -- I ended up having to sand smooth an o-ring mating surface that had been scratched up inadvertently as well as make an o-ring to replace one that had been forgotten in MN.

On the base, the final experiment arrived. Called NCT, they're in an older high bay in the hangar building. It's much much crappier than the one we're in. And the Columbia crew got in a new set of computers that will be used for flight operations -- two computers with three 22" widescreen monitors between them (two on one, one on the other).

The new guys went to the burger stand for lunch and had what they claim were completely flavorless burritos. They were happier with Fred's in the evening.

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