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
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
Track the ATIC experiment