Reassembly, Shinification.

Javier scacles BIT With upgrades to the experiment complete, it’s time to start putting everything back together. In addition to basic reassembly, it’s time to start giving the experiment its final thermal treatment. This means covering things with various combinations of foam and shiny aluminized mylar. And lots of tape. […]

Upgrades

The telescocpe and I On my return to BIT-land (after needing to spend a few days in Princeton) I find everything disassembled in preparation for upgrades: mainly to the rigidity of the mounting of the inner frame, the telescope inside the inner frame, and the optics box on the backside of the telescope. Plus installing some electronics like the new heater control box, fine guidance controller, and shiny new gyroscopes. […]

SuperBIT Test Flight 2017: The Beginning

Susan fits in the boat, which makes for more convenient alignmnet scoping I arrived in Palestine about a week later than the Toronto crew (professor: Barth, grad students: Javier, John, and Susan, undergrads: Bryce and Michael). They had unpacked and tested everything in the thermal vacuum chamber and were starting to set up. I forgot to pack my camera, but I snapped a few photos on my phone. Most were for technical purposes, but a few are (maybe) of interest to people other than me. […]

SuperBIT launch (last year)

I board the plane to head to the downrange telemetry station On the Eve of Canada Day 2016 (ie last year….these photos have been sitting unloved on my computer for a while), SuperBIT launched for its overnight test flight. Now that SuperBIT is approaching flight readiness for another flight, it’s about damn time I posted these. Like all launch days, it was full of frantic work, waiting, excitement, and dread. Then it launches and there is no longer anything you can do except send commands on a computer and hope everything works. There is a brief rest during ascent, in preparation for working all through the night once the a balloon reaches float altitude. […]

LAUNCH!!!

Launch!!!!!!! SuperBIT launched today! We’re very excited, and very stressed. Nothing is broken…yet. More to come later. […]

Attempted Launch, Part Deux

BIT and BIT Bill from above After a few days of launch cancelations early in the day, we made a serious attempt yesterday. It was the best day we’d had yet. And Big Bill, the launch vehicle from Fort Sumner, had been brought in for some tried and true reliability. However, after going through all the motions, and driving out to the launch pad, the winds didn’t die down enough. We had to cancel again. Today looks even better, and BIT is currently out on the pad. Fingers crossed. […]

Waiting to Launch

Drizzly sunset After our scrubbed launch attempt a couple weeks ago, we have not had another opportunity. Since then we have tweaked and tested BIT. But there’s a limit to how much non-invasive change can happen while maintaining launch-readiness. People also took a field trip to Houston one day and we all went home last week. […]

Attempted Launch

Group photo! Friday was a marginal launch opportunity. We arrived a little before noon to get everything ready and do some “final” systems checks. Excitement and hopes were high, group photos were taken, I’s dotted and T’s crossed. We proceeded as far as taking BIT out to the launch pad, hoping for a safe gap in the weather. Sadly, there was too much chance of a storm to risk laying out the balloon and proceeding with launch. Late in they day, BIT was brought back to the highbay. To try again another day. […]

Night Shifts, Arts and Crafts

Steven and Aldous add more bling Most of this week, to me, has been a blur of sleep-deprived night shifts. During this time, Javier, Mathew, and Barth work furiously to test and fix code. Bill, Richard, Tim, and I help while trying to stay out of the way. Meanwhile, the day team has been finalizing the little details and arts and crafts to get BIT ready to fly. […]

BIT Hanging Out in the Sun (Pre-Compatibility)

Hanging in the air Sunday was a big day for BIT. Starting in the morning, a big team was in for pre-compatibility tests. Before we fly, we will need to show that all our things work, and that they are compatible with NASA’s electronics for communication and balloon control. Pre-compatibility is a trial run to check for any problems before the final test. Overall it went quite well. One slightly sad note is that the old and loved launch vehicle, Tiny Tim, has been replaced due to needing increasingly frequent repairs. The lifts were smooth, but lacked a certain je ne sais quoi. After the tests, we had our first clear night in weeks. This gave us an opportunity to finally test the telescope and guidance systems with real stars. The afternoon was spent preparing, and then the late shift spent the night testing. […]