Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Day 41, 5/5/09 -- "It's like, 'how much more black could it be?'"

The answer is...some.

First, the big news today was that CREST finally launched! I didn't get up to watch, but some of the team members who were either still around or came in early got to see it. They launched around 8AM, drifted eastward while ascending toward Portales, and then started drifting westward when it got to its float altitude of about 130,000 feet. In fact, it basically drifted back toward Fort Sumner, at one point getting as close as 9 nautical miles (on the ground) to us, putting it about 27 (non-nautical) miles away line-of-sight. It was REALLY easy to see in the sky, and I put my mom's nice zoom lens to good use (see picture above). You can actually just make out the payload as a little white smudge below the balloon. They terminated just north of Roswell and it looks like they recovered the payload in the evening. Flight (and recovery?) track here -- it'll probably be gone by the time the next payload launches, though.

Ilan was in early to cycle our fridges and get detectors cold again so we can start the next round of detector/optical tests. Jeff and I implemented my awesome garage-door-spring solution to our inner frame balance issue and...well...it didn't completely work. It helped, but we need bigger springs. And I forgot to take pictures. Dan spent the day working on getting the artificial planet set up with his monachromator for the next round of tests while Hannes and Fran├žois battled buggy code while trying to tune bolometers.

After dinner, we weighed the gondola: 5800 lbs with all batteries and an extra 50 or so lbs of power supplies but without about 100 lbs of baffles. Still, in pretty good shape since we thought we might be significantly over 6000 lbs. Then Jeff and I started applying millimeter-wave absorber to the optics 'cavity' around the cryostat and secondary mirror to control reflections. It's black, and we have a bit more to put on around the secondary and a lot more to put on around the primary, hence the answer that opened the post.

Also, this is my 50th post to this blog. To the nearly 200 unique visitors this site has had -- thanks! I hope you've enjoyed reading as much as I've enjoyed posting.

CREST pictures:

Today's EBEX pictures:

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