Antarctic Astronomy Diaries 2003/04

   

   
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Thursday, January 22, 2004

19-20/1



Work, work, work. I now miss the Antarctic coast. Now that we have all our
equipment, we have been working constantly, and it's not about to change
because the amount of work we need to do is plain scary. I am here for less
than two weeks and John and Colin are only staying a couple of days after I
go. In this last couple of days we have exchanged one of the generators,
replaced the electronics and computer, redone all the wiring in the building
and put together a part of the MASS. This last part was not as easy as
firstly thought. The MASS is essentially an indoor telescope than looks
through a glass window of the AASTINO and measures profiles of atmospheric
turbulence. All its parts are bolted to a big slab of aluminium, itself
attached to one of our fuel tanks for support. The problem is that in
Sydney, we designed it using the theorical size of the building. It was
meant to fit inside one of the panel of the AASTINO. When we tried to
install it, of course it didn't. There probably was a good minute of silence
when we realized it. Then the magic word was pronounced by one of us: Angle
grinder!



This tool is Jon and my favorite because it is the one that can do the most
amount of damage and we didn't even get to use it last year. We made a quick
assessment and it became clear that the MASS would fit if we took off the
insulating foam that makes most of the thickness of the AASTINO. After
trying to find other alternatives, we came to the conclusion that it was
surgery or an early return to Sydney. So we decided to give it a shot right
after lunch. We thought it was better to act first and then explain it to
John back in Sydney instead of the other way around. If it didn't work, we
could always say that it was the dog's fault.



After lunch we grabbed a few garbage bags from the station and used them to
isolate the part of the AASTINO requiring surgery from the rest of the
building. It was obvious that it was going to be a messy job and that plenty
of fiber glass dust would end up covering everything including our sensitive
equipment. Being the most agile with my fingers (or rather being the
tallest.) I was given the task to perform the duty. Jon drew around the
section to be removed while I put on a mask and my goggles to protect me
from the dust. After making the first whole, we realized that it would be
easier with a jig saw so I changed tools and carried on. Jon filmed the
procedure while Colin assisted with the vacuum cleaner, minimizing the
amount of dust falling from the cavity. After 10 minutes of struggle,
leveling and cleaning, the AASTINO had two pretty holes on either sides of
one of its panel. We reinstalled the MASS that was perfectly fitting into
its new section. Of course there is now a small section less isolated from
the cold but since no wind can get in I don't think it will make a
difference.



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