Friday, March 27, 2009

Day 1, 3/26/09 -- Coulda had a V6.

Thursday was a lovely day in New Mexico -- mostly sunny, and shorts-and-t-shirt warm. We got to the CSBF high bay at the Fort Sumner airport around 10 AM after a short stop at the local grocery store. There, we were informed that, yes, indeed, there are 4 restaurants in the town of Ft. Sumner -- and eight churches. Everything in town closes by 8:30 PM, except the liquor store (which is really just a part of one of the restaurants, Fred's) which closes at 10 PM.

Once in the high bay (left), we started the task of setting up our work area. We figured out where we wanted our computers to go and Milligan began setting them up near the Columbia computers. Jeff and I started uncrating the cryostat that holds our millimeter-wave receiver so we could put it on its cart and start putting the instrument back together.

We're currently sharing the high bay with another payload called FIREBall, an ultraviolet telescope designed for studying faint intergalactic emission. Their gondola is pretty sweet -- almost all made of carbon-fiber tubes and sweet spherical connectors between them (see pictures here).

Unfortunately, because the crane in our area of the high bay is way better than theirs, they asked to use our crane to install their delicate mirrors -- which meant they were in the middle of where we wanted to set up. That basically killed our afternoon, which is why there are so many pictures in today's album.

We went to eat at Fred's, and I was pleasantly surprised by the tastiness of my burrito thingy. On the way back, we decided to see what our rental Toyota Camry was made we drove out onto the runway at the airport. Note: It was REALLY dark. None of the runway lights were on, which made us confident we weren't going to get hit by a plane landing, because there's no way they would have been able to even SEE the runway if they had wanted to. Once at the end of the runway, I turned around, stopped, planted my left foot on the brake and floored the gas with my right. I was expecting a reasonable screech of burned rubber followed by not-unreasonable acceleration. I was given the merest hint of a chirped tire and followed by acceleration that would hardly make an '82 Civic hatchback jealous. I nearly drove off the road (er, runway) from laughing so hard. Note to self: Next time, get the Impala.

When we got back to the high bay, FIREBall was out of our way so we started setting up our work area. We worked on this until about 10 PM and then left for the which point it had started snowing. We can't even escape the snow in New Mexico.

Today's picture album:

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