Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Day 48, 5/12/09 -- EBEX: We know drama

Today was full of dramatic moments. Before we get to the drama, though, Science: We got the majority of the remaining baffles up -- a big task that had been delayed for a good while because others were doing things with the gondola. We test-fitted our window baffle, the so-called "champagne bucket". Ilan, Hannes, and Fran├žois worked on fixing some issues with our readout crates. Jeff did a lot of work on baffle supports. I cut some holes in foam and painted some sun-exposed metal on the gondola. And new people showed up: Greg from Brown, Sam from SISSA, Chaoyun and Kate from Minnesota, and Joy returned from a weekend with her parents. As if the high bay weren't crowded enough!

Now for the drama:

First, Governor Bill Richardson flew in to Fort Sumner. We have no idea why, but he landed in a small business jet, and what I think is the town's entire police force -- three cars -- came out to escort him to wherever he was going.

Second, our elevation actuator was replaced with our flight unit. Now, this normally doesn't sound very dramatic, and it shouldn't be. Unfortunately, the person who replaced the actuator forgot to remove the strap that was holding the inner frame in place while the actuator was removed. Now, I was not aware that there was a ratchet strap in place. Hilarity ensues: I move the actuator, and eventually the strap fails with a rather spectacular-sounding BANG, causing all work in the high bay to stop and everyone to gather around to find out what happened. Turns out the steel hook on the end of the strap bent considerably before the webbing itself failed, but nothing ended up damaged in the end.

Last, while painting some metal high up on the gondola, some paint was accidentally spilled onto the gondola below...and into the open ACS crate and its three ~$5000-each electronics boards. After this was discovered, there was a frantic effort to clean up the boards with isopropanol as much as possible. Still waiting to see if all's well...

EDIT: First indications are that the ACS is working.

Actually a fair number of pictures of me today, thanks to Dan who took a whole bunch while I was working:
http://picasaweb.google.com/asad137/EBEXInNewMexico051209#

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