On the pump!

Wow, what progress can be made in a week! We have gone from unpacking to on the pump in one week- a new record for the SPIDER team. Being on the pump is a big milestone for us because pumping all of the gas out of our cryostat takes a fixed amount of time, and no amount of will power or hard work can make it go any faster. Therefore, we use up all of our will power and work ethic in the time leading up to that stage and then relax just a little bit while the pump does the work for us once we’re all closed up.

We finished buttoning Theo up and started pumping a couple hours ago, and now Ed and I are monitoring it over night. We have to be very careful with the speed at which we pump down the cryostat, since we have very thin filters that can tear if they are subject to a big pressure differential. They are kind of like thin balloons- we don’t want them to pop. So we slowly open a needle valve bit by bit until sometime early tomorrow when we’ll have only a small fraction of an atmosphere left in there. We’ll repressurize with nitrogen a few times (this, in theory, helps dislodge water molecules that adhere to the surfaces inside the cryostat) and then leak check the system.

While we twiddle our thumbs (and occasionally the needle valve), I figured I would post some pictures. First of work done over the past few days, and then of the environment here at LDB, since I have heard a request for shots of buildings. I haven’t spent a lot of time in town lately, but I’ll take pictures of those buildings soon!

To get to and from LDB, there are a variety of vehicular options. Most mornings, we take the Cress, but I don’t have a picture of that just now. It’s basically a semi whose trailer is a big passenger compartment. It is cold and slow and I don’t like it all that much. On Sundays, when the number of people heading to LDB is drastically reduced, we take these awesome vehicles called deltas. Those are the first ones pictured below. They are nice because you can see out the windows, sit across from each other, and are reasonably fast. My most common means of transport (and also the least cool) is shuttle van, shown in the last photo. It is just a big van with big tires.

Today I walked around and took some pictures around LDB.

Very soon we will know if we have managed to make our system helium leak tight. This is a very difficult thing to do, and we have failed numerous times in the past, so send some positive thoughts our way!

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3 thoughts on “On the pump!

  1. I am constantly amazed and awed at what you all are doing there. You’re not in Kansas anymore. Actually that should be Nebraska but close enough. Liked Dave’s menu!

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