Palestine 2013: In Review

CSBF Some of my favourite photos from the Spider integration campaign. June to August 2013 in Palestine, TX. This is just a collection of previously-uploaded photos. Titles and captions may not all make sense without their original context. […]

Wrapping Up

Midair cryostat With Theo warmed up, there was nothing left to do in the campaign but take everything apart and pack. There was a lot to disassemble, and even more to pack, but we had a large group of people who were all pretty motivated to finish. There were still a couple long days, not to mention exhausting hours inside the sauna of a sea container in the Texas sun. But that was no match for lightening hearts, and the simple pleasure of well-packed boxes. We even managed to relax a little in the last few days. Now, we’ve all gone our separate ways. But it won’t be long before we’re together again in Antarctica doing this all again—and more! […]

Tiny Kitten

Yes, you are very cute More animals! A little while ago, Becky found a tiny kitten around CSBF. After gaining his trust with a few days of food, she nabbed him. She has since decided that she will bring him home with her. In another case of finding things in Texas to bring home, Sean got a compound bow. This gives us another, more tactile, way to shoot things. I also decided, this being a cat on the internet, that it had to be memed. […]


Spider, being compatible One week ago we passed our Compatibility test. This involves fully assembling Spider and CSBF electronics and making sure that everything works together, while sitting outside. It also involves Tiny Tim, everyone’s favourite ridiculously-sized launch vehicle. Compatibility is the primary reason the Palestine campaign happens, so this is a big milestone. Aside from a few more detector tests before shutting down our own systems, this also marks the beginning of the end of the campaign. […]

Solar Panels, Compatibility Prep

Poking out of the highbay There was a ton of work to do in the week leading up to compatibility. (Sadly, this means not so many pictures.) We had failed to adequately consider solar panel frames until a little late in the campaign, so there was a rush to get this together. Anne did most of the work, and because I’d dumped the job on her, I felt compelled to help when I could. Many others helped as well. Or did other jobs. Everyone was busy. […]

Potato Cannon

Fire! A couple weeks ago we began our final push to get Spider finished in time to pack up and leave. The primary target was the Compatibility test with CSBF’s telemetry electronics. But we also wanted to finish characterizing detectors and cryogenics, and to generally make everything more flight-like. Meanwhile, because hair products had been obtained for styling mohawks, Bill decided to construct a potato cannon. After some very "meh" initial tests, the intertubes taught us that static guard is far more flammable than hairspray. The potatoes didn’t know what hit them. […]


Jamil is wary I would like to officially reassure people who, seeing no blog updates for almost two weeks, thought I had succumbed to some manner of horrible catastrophe. I am okay, but have been too busy to write posts. I have, however, managed to find time for taking occasional photographs. I hope to soon post what I have, and fill in the gap a little. For now, the next best thing to a dog post: irregular haircuts. A couple of weeks go, Ed bought hair clippers to get himself a haircut. And for a change of pace, he opted to get a mohawk. In the Texas heat, I felt like having some shorter hair, so this seemed like a good bandwagon to jump on. And after a few days, presumably because Ed and I looked “so good”, Jamil decided to round off Team Mohawk. Sasha did the clipping. […]

Dog Baffle, Sun Shields

Laika frolics in the garden Laika recenlty spent a night at the vet after “exploratory surgery”. This is what it’s called when you take a dog in for spaying, she gets cut open, and it’s discovered that she’s already been spayed. Afterwards, she wouldn’t stop licking at her wound so she was given a baffle, just like Spider. (Theo has no wounds to lick, but she would also be unable to.) Otherwise we juggled around pivot suspension ropes, and sun shields, and did more beam maps. Lots of non-dog things. […]

Beam Mapping

Beam mapping With Theo on the gondola, it’s time to start scanning. That is, after all, what we’re supposed to be able to do. As a telescope. The first thing to scan is a calibration source, mapping out Spider’s beams (how each detector sees a point source). […]

Theo and the Gondola, Together at Last

Jon on a ladder, inspecting Theo's plumbing Last week, at the end of my time on night shift, Theo was moved onto the gondola. I missed the operation itself but, thanks to camera and lens loans from John and Jon, I got some photos of the result. We also concluded our epic water balloon fight. Sean and I won by getting the most wet while wrestling over a garden hose. […]