The past several days have been BUSY. We started with Sunday, during which we filled our 1200 L liquid helium tank to the brim. During that somewhat long process, we were forced to take a break when we learned that our penguin friend had decided to return to LDB. Naturally, everyone dropped what they were doing to go take pictures, and I was happily able to get some better footage (including penguin sounds!) than I got the day before.
Aside from taking pictures of penguins, we’ve been productive in a lot of other ways. On one of my morning rides in, when we dropped off a flight crew at their plane, they asked if I wanted to get a tour of the plane. I got to sit in the pilot’s chair, which was really cool.
In SPIDER land, we’ve been scanning our telescope and got our sunshields installed. Tonight, we’ll finish getting all of our solar panels installed, and then we’ll be just about fully integrated.
Yesterday, we were visited by a group of congressmen from the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. The group also included the director of the NSF and several NASA people. I had a brief conversation with Darrell Issa and a nice chat with staffers. Lamar Smith liked Natalie’s Texas flag and one of the California reps wanted his picture taken with Ed and the California flag. Everyone was taking pictures of SPIDER and asking questions. It was a nice change of pace to have people of influence take a tour and express interest in what we’re doing!
Interlude for pictures of the scenery.
Finally, today we witnessed our first balloon launch of the season out at LDB. ANITA, an experiment that detects interactions of incredibly high energy neutrinos with the Antarctic ice, was the first to go up. The launch went very smoothly, and was a treat to finally get to see!
Watching the balloon launch was very exciting, but thinking about our turn, watching our baby float away like that– SPIDER launch day is going to be very nerve-wracking. Day by day, we get closer to launch ready, though! Below is a recent video of scanning. In a few days, her lens caps will be removed, and she’ll be doing this scan at 100,000 feet, collecting a fantastic CMB data set!