Arts and Crafts and Repairs

Attempted astrophotography at airport With BIT’s functionality tested, it was time to shift to major arts and crafts mode. All of BIT gets covered in some combination of insulation foam, tape, and shiny aluminized mylar. The exact proportions of each are carefully chosen to keep each part thermally happy in the stratosphere. Some of this had previously been done inside the outer frame and around the telescope, but outside the outer frame needs a lot of it before we can fly. With the arrival of Bill we reached peak team size. But we also started shrinking later in the week when Steven had to leave us. […]

Night Testing

Nighttime observing During my second week, the main goal was to point BIT at the sky to test operations from the ground. This first involved some final assembly, followed by a few days of long and late shifts. After more clear nights than we expected, we were happy with the testing and moved BIT back away from the door to proceed with more flight preparation. That is, doing all the extra preparation needed to actually operate in the stratosphere, not just from the ground. We were also joined by the “Durham crew”: Ellen (now in Sydney), David, and Richard. And at the end of the week, were briefly visited by the NASA Administrator and Deputy Administrator, while they were visiting New Zealand for other reasons. For my day off, I tried out the disc golf course. Other maybe-players all decided on long drives or hikes instead, but after the previous weekend’s adventure I felt like something more chill. […]

Skyline Track

Observation point selfie On a beautiful half-Saturday off, Susan and I decided to hike the Skyline Track. This started with a hike up Mount Roy, a popular viewing spot around the lake from the town of Wanaka. There were a ton of people (and sheep and cows) on this part of the track, including some fellow balloonatics from the EUSO group, who are also preparing to launch here. Though instead of descending the way we came up, we took the longer through-route to the Cardrona Valley. From Roy’s Peak, we followed the ridge over to Mount Alpha, which is the main reason we decided to go this way. The ridge did not disappoint! Following Mount Alpha was a straightforward but long descent to a little roadside carpark where (with Emaad’s help) we’d previously stashed Susan’s rental car to get home. […]

The Beginning

Barth's Safety Style After a brief break back home, I head back to New Zealand to join the SuperBIT team preparing for a launch from Wanaka. Much of the hardware team had arrived a couple weeks before I did, and had set up the lab, cleaned the telescope, and started to put things together. During my first week we put everything together in a form that’s ready for full-system ground testing, if not quite ready for the rigours of the stratosphere. Wanaka is also beautiful. A person could get used to launching balloons from here. […]

Wrapping Up – Bonus

Elle and the big Russian lens Oops! I had some undownloaded photos on my digital camera. So here’s a bonus post of things I forgot. Most of these are from our final “penguin hunt”, walking down to Hut Point to search out penguins. We didn’t see any (except maybe in the distance), but there were still seals and skua and a generally pleasant Antarctic day. […]