Sunday, December 2, 2012

Preparing for Flight, BLAST and EBEX Outside and also Bob's roommate is an astronaut: December 2, 2012

Sunday we continued our preparation for flight, deciding on more initial settings for our flight software. One big focus that JohnE spent a lot of time working on was our high priority threshold, which is a balancing act between getting all the good science we want (so more things being high priority=better science) and the antenna bandwidth we may have in flight (more things being high priority=trying to send more data down than is possible).  This is a bigger issue for our slower satellite links, since our High Gain Antenna (HGA) should be able to get almost all of the data down right away. Everything will end up being saved on the instrument hard drives anyway, but we'll be adjusting our calibrations with in-flight data.

BLAST and EBEX both had testing to do outside, so at one point they were both outside at the same time. We joked that we should move Super-TIGER outside as well just so that we could get a group photo, but we kept our instrument inside all day. The weather was too windy for a pathfinder launch, so they'll try again Monday.

BLAST (left) and EBEX (right) 

Sunday night there was the usual weekly science lecture. This week, it was by Dr. Stan Love, an astronaut who flew to the International Space Station (ISS) on STS-122 and performed two spacewalks. He also is Bob's new roommate, having arrived on Friday. He gave us a very interesting talk about his spaceflight and what they accomplished, and then answered questions from the audience. One theme he kept coming back to was the parallels to Antarctica a century ago and space today. Apparently one of his interests now is finding good analogues to spaceflight on Earth, and Antarctica, with its potentially life-threatening environment and the need to take everything you need with you, is a very good approximation. He also made the argument that the first permanent base on the moon will likely function a lot like McMurdo does today.

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