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November 25, 2005

November 25, 2005: The first week of effort in the new payload bay has been very productive.  Our initial performance review showed only a few hodoscope and calorimeter channels / chips that needed to be repaired.  In addition, the Silicon Matrix was brought up to flight performance levels very quickly.  In short, the instrument is in the best state it has ever been at the start of a campaign.

The superb health of ATIC has allowed us to quickly begin integrating the experiment for flight.  The first step in this process was to install the pressure vessel ring.  Next the upper framing structure was assembled and attached to the ring load points.  This allowed us to lift the assembly (see picture) out of the black transport frame and attach the lower frame structure.  The remainder of the week was spent integrating the NSBF Support Instrument Package or SIP.  The SIP provides primary and redundant communication and ballooncraft control.  ATIC data is downlinked and commands are uplinked through the SIP.  Initial testing indicates that all ATIC communication channels and interfaces with the SIP are functioning well.

Our plans for the immediate future include installing the pressure vessel shells, obtaining muon calibration data while the calorimeter is cold,  performing a TDRSS communication test, installing the solar arrays and, finally, completing the compatibility test.  Following a successful compatibility test we will be ready for flight and waiting for the an appropriate launch day.

Finally, our official Thanksgiving here in Antarctica isn't until tomorrow (all holidays in McMurdo are on Saturday), but the cooks in the galley here at the balloon facility put together an amazing feast for lunch yesterday.  We had fresh shrimp, salad (don't always get this), turkey, stuffing, cooked squash, different cheeses, steamed broccoli and fresh baked apple and pumpkin pies.  We really didn't need to eat for the rest of the day.  The official Thanksgiving dinner in the McMurdo cafeteria on Saturday will have something equivalent, but probably not as good.

Several pictures from our first week of work can be found in the ATIC-3 Picture Archive.  


Hoisting ATIC by the upper structure in preparation for adding the lower structure


ATIC in the external frame

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