Friday, November 30, 2012

Day 37, November 30, 2012 -- Cacophony!

The high bay can be an incredibly noisy place. Not in the 'hurts your ears to be inside' sense, but the kind of din that gradually creeps up on you and envelops you and you don't notice until it's gone. Besides the constant hum of power supply cooling fans and the incessant dull scream of the liquid cooling pumps running at full blast, there's often various groups of people shouting instructions from downstairs to the mezzanine and vice-versa, drills whining, and the unmistakable sound of the elevation actuator buzzing as it points the telescope up and down and people freak out as they ask "Is the gondola supposed to be moving?!?!" (which it usually is).

Even in this environment, we get work done. Today, as in many days, we weren't dedicated to a specific test so the various sub-teams made progress on their individual priorities as best they could given whatever other constraints the gondola had. The liquid cooling system is now leak-free and filled with the flight coolant, Dynalene HC. Jeff and Kyle spent much of the day testing the HWP system after the control crate heatsinking had been redone. In addition, Kyle and Seth debugged a nagging issue with our heater board commanding that caused some commands to not execute as desired. They think they have found the solution, but further testing is required, and Kyle is overseeing a fridge cycle this evening to check its robustness.

Elsewhere, Britt, Michele, Matt, and Shaul came up with a solution to our battery temperature issue. Our batteries are fancy lithium ion jobs with sophisticated control electronics and a relatively narrow temperature range of 0 to 45 degrees C. Our system was designed for float altitudes, but in our outdoor test a few days back we found that the batteries were getting too cold even with their heaters on. Britt and Michele started the task of cutting foam insulation panels for the batteries to keep them warm during the pre-flight, launch, and ascent phases of the mission.

Other smaller items: I connected up the cables for the bolo power supply filter boxes (harder than it sounds, trust me) and mylarized some foam, KyleH cut some foam panels to close out the top of the BTS, and part of the high bay was cleaned up to make room for the assembly of our massive solar arrays.

Pictures (only a couple today):

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Day 36, November 29, 2012 -- Hut

After yesterday's successful outdoor tests, we set about today to address some issues that we either put off in order to focus on the outdoor test or learned as a result of yesterday's test. In the former category, Jeff and KyleH mounted the BRO power filter boxes, I finished taping the corners of the foam scoop ground shield, and Andrei and Michele continued their work on the LCS, ferreting out a few minor but insistent leaks. In the latter category, we made some panels in the BTS to allow access to the flight computer and ACS, and I moved CSBF's GPS antennas from the rear to the front of the antenna bar to allow some more clearance to the crane to make it easier to roll out. In addition, Kyle, Jeff, Shaul, and myself had a discussion about how to do one of our upcoming calibration tests.

Elsewhere at the LDB camp, SuperTIGER did their compatibility test today, which means they are basically flight ready. The launch season can open as early as Dec. 5, so now it's just a waiting game for them. At the same time, BLAST went out to the dance floor to continue their sensor calibration.

In the evening, eight of us went to Discovery Hut, the hut that Captain Robert Scott built during one of his first expeditions to Antarctica. While it wasn't very useful as a living place, due to it being designed for the Australian outback and extremely cold inside, it was used by various expeditions in the early 1900's and still contains 100-year old provisions and seal carcasses along with (non-viable) anthrax spores in the hay they brought for their ponies. Pretty neat.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Day 35, November 28, 2012 -- Let's Dance

Today was a busy day -- about half of the team (including me) came in during the wee hours (2AM or 4AM, depending on who) to get the gondola ready for its trip to the so-called "dance floor", a wooden deck set away from the buildings, for sensor calibration tests. After a few hiccups, we managed to get out to the dance floor by about 6AM, at which point Joy and Chappy started with the various tests they needed to do in order to calibrate the various pointing sensors: the star cameras, the magnetometers, the dGPS system, and the sun sensor. We had to bring the gondola back to the high bay around 10AM as the wind started picking up, though we left it outside hanging from the crane for about another hour before we decided the wind was getting too strong and we brought it in.

After lunch, the early crew went back to McMurdo. I took a nap, then after dinner a few of us went on a tour of the pressure ridges, seasonal features in the sea ice created by ice and water movement near Ross Island. It was pretty awesome, walking through these huge waves of ice, seeing the big cracks that permeated the surface, and getting a nice up-close look at some seals that use the cracks in the pressure ridges as a means to get into the water.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Day 34, November 27, 2012 -- Chuffed to BTS

Another big couple of changes in the appearance of the experiment today. First, Andrei and Michele installed the radiating panels for the detector electronics' liquid cooling system (LCS) and connected all the plumbing. Then, in the early evening, a few of us stayed a little late and mounted the BTS, the large mylar-covered structure that surrounds the telescope and shields it from the sun. It's huge!

During the day, a bunch of other work was done as well. Matt and Franky fixed an issue with some of our DfMUX boards, Seth and Jeff fixed a CANBus issue (bad cable!), and Jeff additionally did some testing of his rebuilt HWP electronics crate (so far so good). A few people on the team left early to prepare for our first outdoor test tomorrow, a sensor calibration test.


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Day 33, November 26, 2012 -- Milestones

A few milestones that I just noticed: Today marks one month on the ice for the EBEX team, and it has been awesome seeing the progress we've made in that time. Also, this blog passed 20,000 total pageviews some time yesterday (which counts from back in 2009, our Ft. Sumner test flight campaign).

Big news: our fridge cycle worked successfully completely autonomously, which means Kyle can finally get some real sleep and then get back on the day shift.

Otherwise, a lot of activity around the high bay today, as usual these days. KyleH and I did some foam cutting and mylarization for some of the baffling panels that we are waiting to install so people will have access to things on the inner frame. Britt routed some thermometers around on the gondola, I routed the GPS cables along the BTS structure, Shaul worked on mylarizing our synthetic suspension ropes to protect them from sunlight, and Andrei and Michele continued the LCS work. Seth and the CSBF crew spent a large part of the afternoon debugging communications/telemetry issues.


Day 32, November 25, 2012 -- Scooped!

After last night's Thanksgiving festivities, a bunch of us decided to come in at noon instead of the normal 8AM. Once we got in to the high bay, KyleH, Jeff, and I proceeded to mount up the biggest panels on the inner frame baffling, the "scoop". Made of Dow Corning blue Styrofoam and covered in aluminized mylar. Once in place, we started the arduous process of taping down all the seams -- and since the scoop is held on solely by tape, this is very important!

In the meanwhile, Michele and Andrei started connecting the plumbing for the LCS radiator panels. Britt was doing miscellaneous gondola work, tying down cables and whatnot, Shaul started applying silver teflon to the cryostat RF can.


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Day 31, November 24, 2012 -- I'm finding it hard to come up with interesting titles!

Overnight, Kyle successfully cycled both our fridges and they have achieved near-nominal performance. This bodes well for the fridge performance during flight.

During the day, we had the CSBF telemetry crew come in and install their cables and antennas on the BTS, which required us to lay the entire 24-foot-tall structure on the floor of the high bay. It just barely fit, and we actually had to first move the gondola outside the door in order to lay the BTS down before bringing the gondola back in and closing the doors. Once the CSBF team started working, KyleH, Jeff, and I continued our work on the inner frame baffling. Jeff and KyleH took the lead on assembling the 'stairstep' baffle structure around the secondary mirror while I put the finishing touches on the sheet metal pieces I made yesterday (a couple holes, a little paint, etc). We then installed everything on the telescope, increasing the experiment's shininess level by about a factor of two.


Friday, November 23, 2012

Day 30, November 23, 2012 -- Insert title here

Today we did some more prep work to get the baffles installed on the gondola. I made some sheet metal brackets to hold the foam for the upper part of the 'scoop' that surrounds the primary mirror and ended up having to take a short trip into town to have the pieces bent by the crew at the McMurdo sheet metal fab shop.

The ACS crew spent the morning/early afternoon doing scan tests and will be staying late to do more sun sensor calibration tests. Kyle will then come in and cycle the fridges.

No pictures today.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Day 29, November 22, 2012 -- Foam, foam on the range

Overnight, Kyle tried cycling our fridges. One of them cycled successfully, but the other didn't -- and after looking at the data, it appears it started too warm for a successful fridge cycle given that we tried it a day earlier than we have in the past after having filled helium. So we're going to try again tonight, with hopefully better results. Still, the results were good enough that Kevin and Kate could get some of the preliminary bolo info needed to get the system tuned.

In the morning, we also had a visit from McMurdo's helicopter crew to go over various options for recovering the cryostat in the event that the experiment lands close enough to be reached by helicopter. Shaul also finished cleaning the primary mirror, a task that took him the better part of a full working day. In the meantime, I was already scheduled to cut foam for our inner frame baffling, so I was tasked with making a cover for the mirror. So I busted out my trusty high school geometry skills (and refreshed them with wikipedia's article on ellipses) and got two screws and some string and drew an awesome ellipse to match the outline of the primary mirror (which has an elliptical rim but looks like a circle from the point of view of the incoming light to the telescope).

In the afternoon, KyleH, Jeff, and I cut a LOT of foam. Matt and Franky set about debugging the few SQUIDS (5 out of 112) that had some problems tuning by opening up the cryostat RF can and poking about. Seth, Britt, and Michele spent much of the afternoon debugging some spontaneous flight computer rebooting issues. They tracked down the issue to some flaky power pins inside the computer crate and are implementing a solution.

In the other high bay, BLAST-Pol took their gondola outside so they could do some beam maps with their telescope and a chopped source on a shipping container a few hundred feet away from the high bay.


Day 28, November 21, 2012 -- Mirror, mirror, on the...gondola

The mirrors are mounted! We are moving ever closer to having a fully functioning telescope. Besides mounting the mirrors, we refined the routing of the cables as we moved the gondola through its elevation range. We also started assembling the BTS and made some measurements to figure out if we can rotate the experiment in the high bay once everything is fully assembled. Turns out we can -- if we take the wheels off!


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Day 27, November 20, 2012 -- Aligned and ready

The big effort today was finishing the alignment of the mirror mounts. This took a little longer than anticipated because the required distances for the primary mirror hexapod were a fair bit different than they had been previously. Kyle and Shaul went over all the numbers in the afternoon and we are convinced that everything is hunky-dory, so we are going to go ahead and mount mirrors tomorrow.

Elsewhere in the high bay, BTS mylarization continued, Matt and Franky worked on routing and securing the detector readout cable dryer hoses, and Andrei worked on crunching some sun sensor calibration data.


Monday, November 19, 2012

Day 26, November 19, 2012 -- Progress!

The progress on the experiment is happening quickly. With the cryostat on the gondola, Shaul and I started the process of mirror mount alignment. Kyle and Andrei made more progress mylarizing the baffles, and Andrei and Michele started work on plumbing the LCS. Franky and Matt worked on connecting detector readout cables and routing them along the gondola.

It's actually kind of amazing how quickly the experiment is coming together -- every day there's noticeable progress and we're making headway towards getting the experiment ready for full system outdoor tests.


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Day 25, November 18, 2012 -- Cryostat, meet gondola

Another very productive day in Payload 1 at the LDB Camp. The big bit of progress is that we now have the cryostat on the gondola, meaning a whole slew of work can now proceed. Shaul has already started on the mirror alignment process, and we plan on continuing that tomorrow. The cryostat's rate of helium usage is decreasing now as well, which is convenient since it's now quite a bit more difficult to fill with the cryostat on the gondola. Now with the cryostat on the gondola, we have more space in the high bay so baffle mylarizing can proceed much more easily.

Jeff also started rebuilding his half-wave plate electronics crate to add some additional heatsinking hardware. As part of this process, he had to machine a couple of parts, which meant working in CSBF's makeshift machine shop, a Smithy combination mill/lathe in an unheated shipping container. After wrestling with the machine for a little while, Jeff finally prevailed and now has all the parts ready for rebuilding.

Back in the high bay, I continued with silver teflon application on the BROs while Franky and Matt started work on connecting the detector readout cabling to the DfMUX boards, threading the cables through their metallic 'dryer hose' sheaths and attaching them to their designated BROs.


Day 24, November 17, 2012 -- Hanging out

Today was devoted mostly to gondola work. We had excellent weather which meant that we could take the gondola outside the high bay and do some tests that Chappy and Joy have been itching to do for a while. In the morning, we did a star camera test -- which should be quite surprising, given that it's always daylight down here! But it turns out that Sirius, the brightest star in the sky, is actually bright enough to be seen by our star cameras (which have very strong filters to cut out sky brightness) even from the ground here in Antarctica.

In the afternoon, the gondola once again went out, but this time with its back to the sun to do tests of the sun sensor which took most of the afternoon. During the rest of the day, helium fills continued as the cryostat continued to cool -- hopefully only one more day left of late night fills.


Friday, November 16, 2012

Day 23, November 16, 2012 -- Chillin' with Helium

Big news today: We cooled the cryostat with liquid helium! This is a big milestone for us, because we have verified not only that all of our flight-critical fridge wiring is still working, but that our half-wave plate (which sits on a superconducting bearing) levitates and rotates! The next couple of days will have a fair number of helium fills before the boiloff settles down, so the cryostat crew will be intermittently busy with that.

Elsewhere in the high bay today, progress was made with silver teflon application, baffle mylarizing, battery mounting, and communications with the CSBF SIP hardware.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Day 22, November 15, 2012 -- Grab bag o' science

The cryostat continues to cool internally, not yet ready for liquid helium, so we busied ourselves with various other tasks to try and get ahead as much as possible. In the morning, we lifted up the cryostat and supported it with jackstands so Kyle and Jeff could install the SQUID controller boards and RF shielding can on the bottom of the cryostat. Because this high bay has only one crane, using it to lift the cryostat meant that we couldn't suspend the gondola, so Michele took the opportunity to work on the battery mounting tables and I got to work covering the BRO crates with silver teflon tape.

Kyle and Jeff finished with the SQUID controllers and the associated cabling early in the afternoon, after which we relinquished the crane so Chappy and Joy could do scan tests with the gondola. I continued silver teflon application on some other flat panels we had sitting on the ground, and Andrei, KyleH, and Jeff started the process of covering the baffle structure in mylar.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Day 21, November 14, 2012

Somewhat slow day in the high bay yesterday. The cryostat continues to cool, requiring only minimal levels of interaction at the moment. We re-arranged some stuff in the high bay to allow work on covering the Baffle/Triangle Support (BTS), the structure that surrounds the entire experiment, with its aluminized mylar covering.

We also pulled our little boom lift out of its parking spot under the mezzanine because I'll be using it tomorrow to cover the BRO crates in silver teflon. The gondola team also worked on getting the inner frame properly balanced so they could start scan tests. In addition, Seth and our flight engineer, Jill, are making significant progress sorting out communications between the CSBF SIP (Science Instrument Package) electronics and our flight computer.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Day 20, November 13, 2012 -- Cooling

Today, more progress. Cryostat leak check in the morning, then we cooled it with liquid nitrogen in the evening after pumping the whole day.

On the gondola side, the cryo-dummy was installed today so the ACS team can do scan tests before the cryostat goes in, and Andrei and Kyle finished covering all of the LCS radiator panels with silver teflon.

Also, another EBEX member, Co-I Matt from Montreal, arrived.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Day 19, November 12, 2012 -- Suspending and grounding

As you may know, EBEX is a big payload. In fact, it is the heaviest payload CSBF has ever flown, and it is so tall we actually weren't even sure we'd be able to pick it up inside the high bay here at the LDB facility in Antarctica. After some measuring, consulting with 3D models, and discussion, we tried it  -- and we can pick the thing up with a whole 8" of travel left on the crane hook -- no problem!

The other big endeavor was debugging grounding issues. After having mounted the bolometer readout (BRO) crates and power system on the gondola, we were finding things electrically shorted to the gondola where they shouldn't have been. Shaul and Franky were on the case, though, and managed to track down the different sources of ground shorts and fix them.

I wasn't actually in the high bay, due to having been up late dealing with the cryostat pumps, but I did get a chance to take some pictures in the fantastic low-sun lighting around 1AM on the road back from LDB.


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Day 18, November 11, 2012 -- Silver teflon

The name of the game today was silver teflon. One of the issues we have to contend with at float is thermal issues -- with no air and intense sun, how do we dissipate the heat generated by some of our more power-hungry electronics?

One means of doing this is by controlling the radiative properties of the object in question. As part of our gondola's thermal design, we have to apply a material we call "silver teflon", which is an adhesive tape made of teflon that is coated with a thin layer of silver on the backside, making it a second-surface mirror. The silver is a good reflector of visible light, and the teflon is a good emitter of infrared, so an object coated in silver teflon tape will actually radiate much of its heat out to the environment even if it sits in direct sunlight.

So today, a large effort was made to start coating critical components in silver teflon. Michele spent a fair amount of time covering our flight computer while Andrei and KyleH tackled the radiating panels of our liquid cooling system.

In the meantime Britt, Shaul, and others continued with the dressing of the gondola with the appropriate cables, etc.


Day 17, November 10, 2012 -- The gondola gets ahead

Sorry for the late update, it has been a busy couple of days. The BROs were mounted on the gondola today (today = the date of today's post), and then the inner frame was subsequently mounted onto the outer frame, joining the two major parts of the gondola.

In other news, Kevin, Kate, and Andrei arrived at McMurdo last night, bringing the total number of EBEX team members on the ice to 14.


Friday, November 9, 2012

Day 16, November 9, 2012 -- Day off

With the cryostat pumpout proceeding routinely, a few of us decided to take a day off while we had the chance. Michele and Britt wanted to ski the so-called Cape Armitage loop that goes around the peninsula on which McMurdo base sits to Scott Base, the Kiwi encampment on the other side (and that we pass by every day on the way to LDB). Chappy, Joy, and I decided to hike out to Castle Rock, one of the prominent features on the landscape near McMurdo.

Before that, though, I slept -- I slept until nearly 10:30AM, got a quick breakfast, went to the gym, and then met up with Chappy and Joy at lunch where we planned our departure from McMurdo for around 2:15PM. I then went back to my room to pack up the necessary equipment, including most of my ECW gear as it's strongly suggested to take it along in case one gets caught in inclement weather. We then filed our trip plan and checked out at the Firehouse where we received our 2-way radio, setting a deadline of 7:15PM before they would start emergency search and rescue operations in motion if they hadn't heard from us.

The weather was great for the hike -- clear and sunny, with a persistent but relatively mild wind the entire time. The hike is about 3.5 miles each way, and offered stunning views both over McMurdo and in both directions over the ice shelf, one of which is usually obscured by the ridge that we were hiking along. There's really not much I can say about this -- I'll let the pictures do the talking.

We got back in town by 6PM, checked back in at the Firehouse, and managed to meet Ivan the TerraBus right as they were arriving back in town from LDB. Then dinner, Antarctica Trivia Night at one of the pubs (at which we did extremely poorly, knowing nearly nothing about Antarctica), and then sleep.


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Day 15, November 8, 2012 -- Leak free!

Big news today -- the cryostat is leak free! This means we pre-cool the cryostat with liquid nitrogen tomorrow. But when I say "we", I really mean "someone else" -- because I'm taking the day off! In other big news, Franky has the DfMUX system completely up and running, with 100% of our readout boards installed and functioning in our readout crates.

KyleH, Britt, and Michele continued doing gondola mechanical work while Joy spent some quality time outdoors calibrating our differential GPS system.

Tonight is "American Night" at the New Zealand base just up the road from McMurdo, Scott Base, so a few of us are going there to check it out.


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Day 14, November 7, 2012 -- Election day!

Not that crazy in the high bay today. Kyle, Shaul, and I came in a little late, catching a ride with the LDB camp manager Scott, due to having stayed late last night. The first thing we did was switch the cryostat from its roughing pump to the two turbo pumps. Then it was a hodgepodge of random stuff -- helping out with gondola work or bolometer readout work.

The biggest  news in the high bay, of course, is the US election. Since mid-afternoon, we've been obsessively checking the election returns on the web. Hopefully we'll get to know the answer before we go to bed tonight (barring the need for recounts and the like).


Day 13, November 6, 2012 -- Leaks and fixes

Remember how excited I was a couple days ago that our cryostat was closed and pumping? Well, it turns out that it had a leak, and a big one at that. After some time trying to debug where the leak was coming from and only being able to vaguely determine it came from somewhere near the window, we vented the cryostat and put the whole window assembly on its small test setup (to avoid having to repump the entire cryostat just to leak check the window). We were able to determine that the glue joint that held our plastic window to an aluminum sealing ring (that then mated to a regular rubber o-ring) had nearly completely de-bonded at some point between our testing in Texas and here, and it turns out that broken epoxy is a terrible vacuum seal (no surprise there).

After mulling over various options, we decided to eliminate the aluminum ring completely and sand the window smooth enough to mate with the o-ring directly. This approach has worked successfully on various other experiments, and we were able to make it work for us as well. We also did a thermal test by leaving the window test setup outside for an hour or so until it got to about -10C and found that it still held vacuum.

Elsewhere in the high bay, the gondola team got the star cameras mounted to the inner frame and some of the other electronics boxes mounted, Franky and Jeff continued work on the BROs, and Kyle worked on checking out one of our so-called "general housekeeping" (GHK) boards that reads various sensors from around the gondola and controls other bits of hardware.

Kyle, Shaul, and I ended up staying late at the high bay to finish the leak testing and re-close the cryostat. We got back to McMurdo a little before 10PM, and I went straight to bed.
No pictures today, since we were pretty busy. Now go vote!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Day 12, November 5, 2012 -- Hut Point

A lot of activity in the high bay today -- Michele and I started populating the inner frame with hardware, Britt buttoned up the ACS for the (hopefully) final time, Franky and Jeff worked on various DfMUX-related issues, and the CSBF crew installed the SIP on the EBEX gondola. We also did a first, rough, leak check on the EBEX cryostat and found no evidence for leaks -- hopefully tomorrow we'll be able to do a more sensitive test. In addition, a few of us had light vehicle driver training, so we are now qualified to drive the NSF red vans in case we need to make trips to/from the high bay outside of the regular shuttle hours. We took the opportunity to drive one of the vans back to McMurdo from LDB at the day's end, which was much faster than taking Ivan The Terra Bus.

After dinner, a fair number of us took a trip out to Hut Point to check it out. Not only is the view from there amazing, with vast vistas stretching out across the ice shelf, there are also seals! Weddell seals, to be specific, which are the only Antarctic seal species to hang out on solid sea ice rather than broken-up pack ice (as we learned during the Sunday night science lecture). There were even some pups!


Saturday, November 3, 2012

Day 11, November 4, 2012 -- In like Flynn

After pumping overnight with on our vacuum roughing pump, we set up the cryostat today to pump with our two turbomolecular pumps to prepare the cryostat for cooling in the next few days. In the process, I cleaned up a bit and rearranged things in the high bay to prepare for moving the gondola inner frame, which had heretofore been languishing in its shipping container out on the ice, into the high bay.

In the afternoon, Michele, Shaul, and I went out into the cold to bring in some of the stuff that was in the way of the inner frame in the shipping container. Then we got help from CSBF to get it on a forklift and bring it over to the high bay.

In the meantime, Britt and Seth moved the ACS and flight computer over to near where Franky has the BROs set up so they can do some software testing with the BROs.


Day 10, November 3, 2012 -- Closed and pumping!

Another productive day in the high bay. The biggest news, in my opinion, is that the cryostat is closed and we are in the process of pumping most of the air out of it. This is a big milestone, and we encountered no major problems, which is encouraging! Kyle and I ended up needing to stay a little later than the shuttle bus runs, so we arranged for Dave Sullivan, the CSBF Antarctic operations manager, to drive back a bit later in one of the NSF vans to pick us up.

Chappy got the second star camera closed up, Michele finished all of the modifications to the flight computer, and our detector readout hardware arrived from Montreal, so Franky and Jeff spent some time unpacking and setting it up.

In addition, Shaul arrived late yesterday from Minnesota, so he spent his first full day here in Antarctica today.

Pictures (mostly EBEX hardware):

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Day 9, November 2, 2012 -- Closer to closing

The cryostat team (Kyle, Jeff, and myself) managed to get the cryostat a fair amount of the way towards being closed up and on the vacuum pump. We removed the instrument after yesterday's aligning, Jeff installed the HWP system and fully tested it, Kyle and I finished the instrument's thermal and electrical connections, we re-installed the optical filters in the optics stack at 4K and 77K, re-installed the instrument for the final time into the cryostat, installed SQUIDs, and connected detectors to their SQUID boards. Whew! Tomorrow, all we have left to do is wiring checks, closing up shells, and installing the window assembly before pumping.

The gondola team was also busy. Michele finished re-assembling the rotator while Britt worked on debugging the temperature channels in the gondola thermometry. In addition, Chappy and Michele reassembled the first star camera (unfortunately named ESC0, because Chappy is a computer scientist at heart who loves zero-indexing) to get it ready for its dry nitrogen purge. Seth was probably also really productive, but it's hard to see progress in software in the high bay on a day to day basis.

Only a few pictures today:

Day 8, November 1, 2012 -- Take a hike!

Ok, we did stuff in the high bay today, sure. Kyle and I finished the alignment of all the lenses in the cryostat. Michele and Jeff put the rotator back together. Franky worked on DfMUX board heatsinking, yadda yadda yadda.

The real excitement today came after the work day had ended. Kyle, Franky, Chappy, Joy, and myself went on a hike up to the top of Observation (Ob) Hill, the really pointy hill right next to McMurdo base. Despite being a relatively short hike, the vertical gain was about 750 feet in about 1.5 miles, and it was surprisingly difficult, with loose rock and a fair amount of snow combining with steep dropoffs making it somewhat treacherous. And the wind was also nuts, probably blowing at about 20-30 mph in combination with the near-zero-Fahrenheit temperatures. Still, we prevailed, and I was able to take a picture of us triumphant at the top thanks to having lugged my tripod all the way up.