Dipartimento di Fisica - Universita' di Roma La Sapienza
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B2K: Antarctic Campaign 2002-2003
 
Our group is now in Antarctica, in Willy Field, on the Ross Ice shelf near the Ross Island, to prepare the new flight of BOOMERanG. In the following you can find a log and a bunch of pictures (we update when we can). These should give you some feeling of this adventure ...





On Jan.23 a C130 overflight has located the payload in its cold storage location on the Antarctic plateau. It is sitting on the front side, in good shape. The parachute is frozen at ground and has been detached. A recovery mission is planned for saturday

On Jan.21 the instrument has been terminated. The impact site is near Dome Fuji, a Japanese base on the Antarctic Plateau. After about 10 days of good data taking, we had to shut down because the balloon lost altitude each day. This did not affect our ability to make very clean CMB polarization measurements, but eventually the shear winds were too strong (at about 70kft) to control the telescope pointing. A data recovery mission has been planned for this season. News soon on this. Meanwhile, analysis of the satellite transmitted data has already started.

As of Jan.10 the instrument is performing very well. Our major worry now is the altitude of the balloon, significantly lower than usual.

On Jan.6 2003, at 05:00 UT, B2K has been launched. The long wait is over. The day was very long and tense. The process started the day before, with the cryo team transfering liquid He, liquid N and cycling the 3He fridge for the n-th time. The process took about 40 hours. After the last calibrations and complete check-out, the payload was picked-up by the NSBF crew at 9:30 AM of a cloudy but windless day. It was transferred to the launch pad, connected to the flight chain (parachute, telemetry, balloon etc..) and launched at 18 PM. Half the way during inflation of the balloon wind picked-up, so the launch was more adventurous than usual. But in the end everything went just OK. B2K is now cruising at about 38 km of altitude (see last picture), happily scanning the sky looking for tiny polarization signals in the CMB.

As of 2 Jan 2003 , BOOMERanG is still waiting for its launch opportunity. Highlights of the last few days have been a lively discussion about Perutrbations in General Relativity between Phil and Eric, the traditional party at Scott Base on the last day of the year, the toast for new year in Italy at noon of Jan.1st (Happy new year from the suothernmost italians in the world !); sessions of star camera focusing and final compatibility test with NSBF (despite of 20 knots winds and bad weather). The success of the compatibility test was celebrated the italian way (pasta and fish dinner by Armando and Francesco).

Dec.29 has been a launch day for the ATIC experiment. The NSBF crew made a great job and the payload was launched smoothly. We are next in line, and there should be good weather conditions on tuesday. So we have started the cryogenic cycle to be ready for compatibility and launch. This and the last sealing / taping on the payload will occupy us full time in the coming 36 hours.

On Dec 28 we have seen the sun again. We have realigned the sun sensors and tested again the pointing system. We are still in stand by for launches, but the weather is improving. A Twin Otter from the Italian base in Terra Nova Bay, stopping over in McMurdo, left Christmas presents for us. They have been greatly appreciated. Many thanks to the Italian Antarctic Program ! In the evening we had short walk to the historical Hut of Scott, built 100 years ago.

The week from Dec. 21 to Dec.27 has been a bad weather week. We took good pictures of Mnt. Discovery while our group and the Balloon crew worked to be ready for launching. Christmas eve dinner was remarkable and will remain in our memory for long time. Work was mainly on cryogenic operations and flight planning. At some point Barth was trapped inside the payload. No risk he will be flown. With the persistence of bad weather, our launch date slips day by day..

On 20 December 2002 a storm made  travelingfrom McMurdo to Willy Field impossible. We went back to the integration barn the day after. DDec. 21was a "taping party" where we sealed all cracks in the payload panels. Also, Armando's bbirthdaywas celebrated in the galley. A strange animal (half pig, half cat) was noticed on top of the barn.

In 19 December 2002 we have pictures from a flying liquid helium transfer, the subsequent pumpdown, and the compatibility test with the payload out of the integration barn for the first time!

On 14 December 2002 a lone seal visited our site. Silvia spoke at length with her.

in 13 December 2002 only a few photos including a teleconference with first grade kids in a school in Italy

Highlights of 12 December 2002 are the launch of a small pathfinder balloon to check stratospheric circulation, and scenic photos of white island and pressure waves in the ice shelf near Ross base. Dismounting the primary mirror of the polarized source is also documented.

10 December 2002 we have pictures of routine Willy Field life, including the tent where we eat and a windy travel back to McMurdo.

In 9 December 2002 we have already mounted on the gondola most of the flight subsystems: the primary mirror, the cryostat, the data acquisition and attitude control electronics. Highlights are the observation of a tethered source for beam pattern measurements and the scan of the focal plane with a polarized source filling the telescope beam (AKA the paolorizer). A short hike to Observation Hill is also documented. And don't miss the portrait of skua Roberto !

In 19 November 2002 you find further photos of payload development, and the visit of a penguin.

In 11 November 2002 you find pictures of the first month of activity: arrival in Willy Field, work on the focal plane, on the cryostat, on the gondola frame.




See also the other BOOMERanG web pages
Caltech
CWRU
University of Toronto