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!

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