Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Farewell BICEP

Temperature: -27.9C
Wind Chill: -42.7C
Wind Speed: 15.9 kts

I have to play a little catch up here. We had an air sample day a few days ago, and the winds were right, so Cully and I went out to the Clean Air Sector behind ARO, and set about getting our flasks ready to collect air. A lot of the prep for that was already done inside, so there wasn't much to do but wait...

and wait....

before too long, we had our samples and it was time to head back in, box them up and finish our day. A couple days before that, even, we had another balloon launch, which went fairly well. I am thinking we have another launch coming up Thursday.

Last Monday night we had a party out at the BICEP facility. These guys are using a telescope to look at our past. They are trying to see all the way back to the origins of things...Big Bang in particular. I was talking to one of the scientists yesterday, and the closest they can look is 400,000 years ago! That seems like a chunk of time to me, but they are still trying to figure out how to look back even farther! There are a couple theories on how the universe expanded. One is that it expanded at a regular flat rate, and linear. The other is that it happened at a different rate, and non-linear. The telescope is trying to look beyond 400,000 years and the answers to the theories the scientists are trying to find revolve around what temperatures they are able to detect from that time period. If they can determine what temperatures were prevalent, they can come closer to answering how the universe developed.

Some of the instrumentation was dismantled before we got to the party, as these folks are leaving early next week. They have done all the data collection they can for right now, and now they have to figure out what they have. While the lab itself made for a great party backdrop, people went up onto the roof to check out the telescope itself,

as well as the surrounding area. Note that the building in the distance on the left of the picture is ARO, give you some idea as to the spread of the facilities down here!

Wayne, the PA for the summer down here, and I went up to the roof to check out the goings on of the party from space. I caught a shot of the telescope from the lab out, and got a more inward view as well!

The telescope itself reminded a lot of us of the bomb that Slim Pickins rode down at the end of Dr Strangelove, and it didn''t take much to convince one of the Polies to re-enact the scene....

After a while it was time to call it a night, and we could have either caught a ride back to the station,

or hoofed it home in preparation for another glorious sun-filled day!

Hope everyone back in the land of color is enjoying themselves!
Capt Splash

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