Daily Archives: April 3, 2010

Hopping Along

Part of what makes research in other countries interesting is experiencing different customs and cultures.  Here in Australia, we’ve learned about the ubiquitous utility of the phrase “no worries,” the culinary versatility of beetroot, and the sartorial advantages of fly nets.  Yesterday we learned that Australia takes a long public holiday for Easter–Friday through Monday.  Unfortunately for us, our calibration sources, which arrived in Australia on Wednesday, didn’t make it out of customs in time.  So, they’ll stay sitting in customs over the four day weekend, arriving in Alice Springs at the earliest next Wednesday.

We really need to get as much calibration data in hand as possible before we fly, so this is a blow.  For now, I guess we’ll fake the “no worries” thing and keep working on putting the system together.  Yesterday we hooked up the test solar panels and migrated to some improved data formats.  Last night I took the theodolite outside to divine a North-South reference line from some measurements of stars.

Installing the test solar panels--much smaller than last year's!

Today, then, we were able to take NCT outside for a little spin.  After aligning the cryostat with our North-South reference, we rotated the magnetometer that NCT uses to orient itself until we found its zero point.  This effort met with good success.  We weren’t able to calibrate our differential GPS, however, due to communications troubles with the computer running the calibration software.  We’ve figured out how to reset things appropriately and will have another go on Monday.

Lining up the gondola.

Today also brought some personnel changes.  Zach headed back to Taiwan to midterms and his previous life as a theorist.  We will miss his curiosity, good humor, and helpful spirit throughout the rest of the campaign!  On the other hand, today Prof. Boggs arrived from the U.S.  It’s good to have the boss on site!

Talk about burying the lede: tomorrow TIGRE shows for a possible launch opportunity!  The winds on the ground and at float seem quite favorable, but it’s always a tossup.  You can watch at home on the CSBF webcam!    Rollout is scheduled for 2:30 am Alice Springs time; the fill/launch period is likely in the 6-7 am range.  (A useful time converter is here–use Darwin as the city.)  Hopefully we’ll see TIGRE rise on Easter!