Saturday, April 4, 2009

Day 10, 4/4/09 -- the boss-man cometh

Today was clear and sunny, but VERY windy. It almost makes you wonder why they even try doing balloon launches from here.

Shaul, the project PI and my boss, arrived in Ft. Sumner today. The first order of business was to inspect the half-wave-plate's new anti-reflection coating (ARC) that I mentioned in the last entry. Even on initial inspection, it was clear that something wasn't quite right -- the ARC on one side was already starting to delaminate from the surface at some points around its edge. It was decided that we'd try cycling the half-wave-plate to liquid nitrogen temperature (77K) and observe what happens. During this process, the side that was already delaminating came off completely, and the other side started to peel up at the edge. It's unclear what our next steps are, but we have some tests we'll do tomorrow that will hopefully illuminate our path forward.

Hannes spent all of today wrestling with detector wires. We decided that it would make his life easier if we made some modifications to one of the parts in the wiring RF-protection assembly, so I took the part to the milling machine in the hangar machine shop and proceeded to make some very ugly but functional cuts to the part. It was a challenge to use a machine without digital readouts on the axes, but I think I was able to pull it off. After these modifications were made, Hannes was eventually able to get the RF-protection assembly in place.

Britt and Michele continued work on the flight computer crate while Kevin and Fran├žois worked more on detector readout electronics. Ilan tested some of the cryostat's low-temperature thermometry readout electronics, and Jerry, Daniel, and Joy started to put on the star camera baffle but had to stop when I reminded them that it needed to be painted before installation. Later in the day, I showed Daniel and Joy how to use our Microscribe Coordinate-measuring arm and they used it to measure the hexapod geometry (as well as their faces and hands).

In other news, I talked to some of the Berkeley group working on NCT in the hangar. Seems like a cool bunch -- not surprising, given that they're from Berkeley (go Bears). The FIREBall team has set up a cleanroom/darkroom in their area of the high bay -- their near-UV detector is sensitive to NUV emission from the high bay lights, so they had to cover their portable cleanroom with tarps that they conveniently used in shipping their experiment.

Sign #4 that you know you're working too much: You go to find Hugo, the CSBF engineer only to find an empty room with none of the CSBF people around, and only then do you realize that it's Saturday.

And then you wonder why they're not there.


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