(Posting has been more sporadic in the last couple of days because of problems with Internet access. I hope to sort that out soon, but in any case I probably won’t post every day going forward unless there’s something interesting to share.)
This morning we had a power outage in the hangar, which delayed but did not divert the first significantly bad news of the campaign: one of NCT’s nine detectors didn’t cope well with the long journey from Berkeley. Jane, Steve, and Alan did lots of tests, but it appears the problem is inside the cryostat–perhaps a damaged connection. Since the detectors are kept under vacuum at 85 Kelvin, there’s no chance to make a repair in the field. We’re all pretty disappointed about the loss of sensitivity, and it’s frustrating not being able to shed more light on the root cause. We’ll try a few more tests in the days ahead to see if we can learn more.
We press on, though. Jim and Zach have nearly completed assembling our new battery boxes; all that remains is the wiring. Zach and I also prepared the card cages for insertion into the electronics bay. To ensure the electronics can exhaust their heat in flight, we’ve been applying lots of white heatsinking compound, known only semi-affectionately as “thermal gunk” for its sticky ubiquity. By the end of the day, the card cages were in and Alan, Jane, and Zach had connected the signal cables.
Today was Jim’s last day working with us–he’s going to go walkabout a bit in the outback before heading out through Sydney. To celebrate the trip, he and I went out for dinner and tried some Australian game–kangaroo, emu, barramundi, and camel. All of it was excellent, but the kangaroo in particular was tender and had great flavor.