Together again

End of the day With fixes and upgrades complete, BIT was ready to be reassembled. Because this is (hopefully) the last time, lots of arts arts and crafts have started to get ready for flight. Mainly covering things with foam and aluminized mylar to keep them cool during the day and warm overnight. Javier’s mom, Kleina, joined us during this time. It was good to have non-scientist company, and she kindly cooked several excellent meals for us. My birthday also happened these days, and Bill got me a surprising present. […]

Falling Apart

Site of magic smoke release No field campaign is complete without its share of minor catastrophes. In this case, once assembly was finsihed and testing underway, a short circuit in a power wire cause some other circuit boards to release their magical black smoke, thus becoming non-functional. Stormy weather also made it impossible to looks at stars at night (needed to test the gondola’s pointing/tracking system). So we proceeded with a more complete disassembly to fix other issues like the heaters inside the telescope baffle. […]

Coming Together

Screwing it down While I was away on my day-trip to Fort Sumner, assembly of the telescope into the gondola structure was started. The goal was testing it in its flight configuration…and eventually flying. Asmebly continued over a couple days, with intermixed stretches of testing. […]

Flying to Fort Sumner

My sweet ride Yesterday I got to take a side trip to Fort Sumner, New Mexico. I was helping set up a a command/data ground station there, which, depending on the winds, can be used to extend BIT’s flight. I flew out of Palestine airport, just around the corner from CSBF. I took their plane, and the balloon facility in Fort Sumner location is at the airport. There was some worry that the bad weather in Palestine would mean we couldn’t fly back, but the pilots found a way. […]

Slight Lack of Focus

Up a tree Over the past few days work has been going on to get the telescope focused and aligned. And to have it stay that way, which is proving to be the challenge. While a small group works on that, others keep themselves busy. […]

Optics box, SIP, and zoo.

Pelicans being fed Since I’m back after a short absence from the field, I should catch up on posting old photos from before I left. The main work on the telescope was assembling the optics box and preparing for focusing/alignment tests. While that goes on, others have been working on gondola assembly, including the local Texans installing their electronics. After a long initial week of work, most of us took some time to visit the Caldwell Zoo nearby. […]

Reassembly and Outside

Jurgen cleans the collimator mirror With the telescope disassembled, inspected and cleaned, it is ready to be put back together again. Then the mirrors get aligned in preparation for focus testing. Reassembly also starts in gondola land. On a nice sunny morning, I take a walk around the highbay. […]

Back in Palestine, for SuperBIT

Telescope-eye view SuperBIT is preparing for a test flight in Palestine, TX. I arrive a day late with the Princeton team. We arrived half a day after the Toronto team, who had unpacked everything. I join the group preparing to test electronics in the Bemco: a big thermal/vacuum chamber. We use it to check that things will survive the cold and almost-vacuum of the stratosphere. Another group unpacks the telescope and disassembles it for a checkup and cleaning. […]

New Cryostat Build

Collection of pieces With Spider still on ice in west Antarctica, construction is well underway on the new cryostat (named Llorothaag aka Lloro aka Thaggie). Last week, Ziggy, Jeff, and I took a trip to Meyer Tool to check on things and discuss some details. […]

The South Pole

The pole and I Once SPIDER finished, I spent a week at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. The BICEP3 telescope deployed this year, and I went down to help integrate electronics for which I am the expert. While there, I made a mandatory visit to the two south poles: the geographic South Pole marker (which is updated annually), and the shiny looking ceremonial pole for photo ops. […]