Thursday, May 31, 2012

Day 4, 5/31/2012 -- Finally, a start

The past three days have been quite a strange experience. If you want to find out more, you can just google "missing nasa truck" and you can probably find any number of articles from both Texan and Minnesotan news sources, so I won't go into it here. I did have the pleasure of being interviewed live via Skype on WFAA Dallas, as well as having a phone interview with Minnesota Public Radio (alas, my quotes apparently weren't compelling enough to make it to the final segment). And I have spent more time on the phone the past 3 days than I have the whole year to date.

But, finally, we got our experiment and we started unloading it this morning. Turns out there were a few things missing from the trailer (my ~$1500+ bike, Jeff's ~$800 bike, some ladders, and, of all things, a crappy box fan), but all of the stuff that's actually hard to replace is still here.

There's some evidence that the trailer had a bit of a wild ride, as some screws inside the cryostat that haven't loosened during multiple previous shipments seemed to have somehow vibrated loose. In one case, this caused another screw to act as a file and cut a nice (but inconsequential) gouge in the aluminum structure that holds one of the 1K lenses.

It was nice, though, to finally be able to get to work doing what we came down here to do: Put together our receiver and get it cold! We started of course by setting up the lab area -- Jeff and Franky started setting up computers while Kyle and I worked on getting the cryostat open and the 'instrument' (the innards of the receiver that holds the cold lenses, detectors, and sub-Kelvin refrigerators) out. At that point, Kyle had to figure out some computer networking issues, Franky started doing some work on the DfMUX (Digital frequency-domain MUltipleXing) detector readout boards, Jeff started working on the half-wave plate system reassembly, and I worked on getting the sub-K fridges unpacked and started the buildup of the instrument. We made a lot of good progress today, and I'm happy to say that we're finally solving the sorts of problems that we're used to having, rather than the madness of the past 3 days!

And, of course, pictures!

Update: Truck found!

We have our stuff, we're unpacking now. Hooray!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Day 2, 5/29/2012 -- Dude, Where's my Truck?

Still no truck. I'm not going to go into details here, but we're starting to get worried.

And no pictures today either.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Day 1, 5/28/2012 -- Truck Tales

We (Kyle, Jeff, myself, and Franky from McGill) arrived in Palestine late last night with the understanding that the truck containing all of our lab equipment would be arriving at the CSBF base early today. Thus informed, we made sure we were at the high bay by 8AM, where we then waited. And waited. And...waited.

After some internet sleuthing, I was able to get in touch with the owner of the trucking company we contracted to bring our stuff out here. He did some checking and found that the truck GPS showed that it was in Dallas last night, a less than three hour drive from Palestine. But he wasn't able to reach his driver, so he's just as in the dark as we are.

We waited all day and no truck. So, here's a tree:

A few notes on the blog this time around. You may have noticed that the updates last were quite suddenly cut short, due to circumstances out of my control. Well, only partially in my control. I'm hoping the same won't happen again this year. I will try to post every day as I have in the past, but I make no promises.

And I hope that the photos this year will be perhaps more interesting, visually, this year, as I now have a new camera (a Canon EOS 60D), new knowledge, and a selection of lenses that is much larger than the hand-me-down Fuji S2 Pro and mediocre lenses I had last year (though I do not have the awesome 70-200 f/2.8 VR AF Nikkor I borrowed from my mom for the Ft. Sumner launch campaign, I do have my very own Canon EF 70-200 f/4L IS which should be, in most instances, a suitable substitute). And all three photos today were taken with a Canon EF-S 10-22mm ultra-wide-angle zoom lens, which has the potential (perhaps not fully realized in the photos linked below) for dramatic shots, with its extremely wide field of view (over 90 degrees horizontally at its widest) and the accompanying perspective distortion that often accompanies it.

Pictures for today (only 3):

Prologue, 5/29/2012

We're back in Texas.