Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Temp: -38.0C

Wind Chill: -47.3C

Wind Speed: 4.3 kts

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!! We are going to have our dinner Saturday evening, but best wishes to everyone!

Today we had a balloon launch scheduled, and Cully and I hit the schedule from two different sides. I wandered over to ARO to take care of the morning daily routine.

Downstairs we have a gas chromatograph, we affectionately call “Big Blue” that is measuring halocarbons (CFCs and HCFCs) in the atmosphere, and it has carrier gases hooked up to it that help the flow of those halocarbons through the instrument so they can be properly identified.

The other instrument downstairs is measuring CO2 in the air. It also has carrier gases that help send the CO2 through to be analyzed.

Once these two instruments have been checked, along with the gas levels in the bottles that are hooked up to them, I went upstairs to check on the instruments upstairs. There are a few different particle counters that were checked to make sure they were operating normally, after which I went over to the Dobson instrument to take a few ozone measurements. This can be done by either measuring the amount of ozone from the ground to space, through a hatch we conveniently placed on the roof, or through a periscope that obtains a direct reading from the sun, in which case we will wheel the Dobson over to the window that gives us that direct path, depending on the time of day. There are wavelengths that the Dobson instrument reads that are characteristic of ozone, and the amount of interference the instrument detects at those wavelengths will quantify the amount of ozone there.

This is a good day to do a Dobson reading since the balloon launch should corroborate that value. When I got to the BIF (Balloon Inflation Facility), Cully had warmed up the pump for the instrumentation we were going to attach to the balloon, he had inflated the balloon, and we were almost ready to launch. We finally attached warmed batteries to the pump to help keep it warm as long as possible on it’s trip up into the stratosphere, and then it was time to let ‘er go!

After that we prepped a couple more pumps for the next couple launches and got ready to go to lunch. Cully wound up back at ARO while I got to spend the afternoon going through Emergency Power Plant procedures, basically familiarizing us with how to activate the emergency power system if the main power shuts down. We got all the theory and the identification of different generators, control panels as well as water and glycol heat exchanging paths…tomorrow we go through the practical application. What this means is that I am going to try to talk Cully into letting me do a lot of the morning daily checks since I won’t be there in the afternoon! The good news about being in a meeting all afternoon: I got out of house mouse detail this week…woo hoo, no scrubbing toilets until next week!!

Our day got extended a little bit longer than normal today since our supervisor, Brian, came in this evening around 1015. He was scheduled for the earlier flight, but nobody at the station got word of a few of the passengers getting bumped to the later flight.

Oh well, there were three folks on the earlier flight that got a tour of the whole operation, The Dark Sector, Ice Cube, and they ended with us, so Cully and I gave them a tour of ARO, gave them a couple vials of the cleanest air in the world. They were military gentlemen, too, so they dug the station patches we gave them as well! Brian’s plane arrived, and after a trip to the galley to grab some food, we all decided that it was time to end the day. Brian had started his travel in New Zealand a little after midnight the night before! Tomorrow’s another day….although you wouldn’t know it, the sun still hasn’t set!


Capt Splash

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