Two steps forward, one step back. Today the flight computer is up and running again, and we’ll run it overnight tonight controlling the detectors. For the first time we can test storage on its two redundant flash drives. I also passed in some new code to the flight software (allowing us to telemeter our data at high speed in a future flight) which seems to be working. We’ve also started installing and testing some of the small auxiliary systems like the differential GPS, the solar sensors, the pointing magnetometer, and CSBF’s GPS antennas.
The step back is the card cages, though: they’re running hot, and the engineers believe the low-voltage power supplies require better heat sinking lest they overheat in flight. That has required new parts to be machined by the shop (several days delay), then we’ll have boards to disassemble and mass quantities of thermal gunk to apply. Mark, who’s our de facto field chief, broke down and made up a Gantt chart showing the schedule dependencies (to calibrate, we need the gondola on the cart, but first we must harness, but first we have to heatsink the LVPS…). We’re all antsy to get to flight ready! But much needs to be tested in the interim, anyway.
Tomorrow we have a flight requirements meeting with CSBF! We’ll be specify our requirements and goals for altitude, flight duration, etc. Once the balloon launches, we can still control our instrument, but CSBF determines when the balloon gets cut down (generally due to proximity to airport airspaces), so this meeting is important in specifying our target flight parameters to CSBF.
Weather here has been warm and clear the past couple of days–quite pretty! On the home front, Sunday night Belinda put together a hilarious Easter egg hunt in the house, and last night I stupefied the other students with a heavy dose of homemade chili, potatoes, and cornbread.