Can you hear it? Can you hear the winds blowing across the lonely hills of Lapland, the infinitesimal sound a snowflake makes as it lands, the distant howling of a moose herd?
If you can, well, maybe you’ve also found yourself in Esrange, Sweden, at the Swedish Space Corporation Center, where rockets and, well obvio, balloons! It’s now been 10 days since our arrival in the Arctic, all of us terribly excited for AESOP-Lite maiden’s flight.
A short recap of what has happened in the past week or so: well, first, we were relieved to see that the sea container had arrived from Texas with no damage done to our equipment and payload, elementary concern you say! The first steps consisted of getting our GSE (Ground Support Equipment) setup and running the instrument to check nothing fatal had happened to it during its cross-Atlantic voyage (it didn’t!).
James inherited the painstaking task of trimming our foam shell, after it was decided that we should match our thermal model to that of the previous LEE flights. Crocodile Dundee style, giant knife in hand, James beautifully butchered and rejuvenated our wrinkled shell (could this be related to his proud love of meat??)
It turns out that in science too, practice makes perfect, and that repeating everything we had done in Palestine turned out to be a much faster process: Pierre-Simon and myself worked on recalibrating the pulse height analysers of each PMT (photomultiplier tube), as well as the altimeter reading, using two highly precise barometers to cross-calibrate. Knowing the pressure outside the shell will be crucial in order to monitor the altitude (which will later come into play in our data analysis).
A few days were spent setting up the LEE calorimeter under the instrument, in order to measure the energy deposited by incoming particles, and cross-calibrate (I love this word) our reconstruction algorithm: the calorimeter provides us with another method to measure the energy of the incoming particle, a whole other beast from the magnet spectrometer and tracking detectors of AESOP-Lite. After playing around the high voltage power supply- and getting invaluable advice, such as “don’t lick the 1600V output Sarah”- and trying to resolve the issue of magnetic shielding, we finally managed to have some runs with the calorimeter in coincidence. It has yet to be seen whether any low-energy particle made it all the way down the scintillator without getting deflected by our 0.3T magnetic field…
The instrument now sits on the gondola, and we are about ready to test the solar panels and the telemetry. More to come…
Categories: Esrange, Sweden