Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I saw a bunny today

And I saw an ozonesonde launch. And that's all the good stuff I saw!

The ozonesonde launch happened right after supper at 6:15 this evening. A bunch of us went out tonight to get some pictures of it as you can see above. The balloon is like a giant plastic bag, and it's in the Helium Shed still in the picture. They fill it about that much with helium, tie on a sonde (looks like a small cubic Styrofoam box about 1ft tall) , then bring the balloon outside and let go. The guy holding the sonde runs around with it under the balloon as it's going up because the sonde drifts as it goes up. Then he lets go too and up it goes. It was really quick. I looked over and thought "Hey they're going to launch it soon" and then it was almost gone by the time I finished thinking it. They do launches of radiosondes twice/day so I should be able to see some more before I leave.

On the way up to the lab today, a bunny ran in front of the truck, and it was FAST! And also really big. Don't worry - we didn't come anywhere near hitting him, but it was a bit startling to see him bolt out accross the road. Bunnies are way faster than I am for sure. No pictures of this speedy creature! I do wonder who would win out of a race between an arctic hare and a muskox. Wolves eat them both.

Let's not talk about how we're getting absolutely no useful data today because our power is sucky (40W) (see - the laser was making fun of us by giving us 58 W two days ago) and it's cloudy and we're running out of Xenon so we turned the laser off. >:-| That is my "we're running out of Xenon and can't replace the tank until tomorrow and it's cloudy anyways but we're still at the lab until the morning" face.

And here is my "I'm looking at the computer in my lab so that Rodica can take a picture of me working" self from a day or two ago. The cylinders of gas are just past the desk (tucked in a bit so you can't see them), and I clean the optics on the table behind me. The desk where I'm sitting has most of the controls for the laser and the data acquisition.

This is me taking the back optic off our laser.

I can only kind of reach so usually Bernard does this and I clean the optic and he puts it back. As you can see, I usually wear my snowpants and hat inside because it's pretty cold in here. It also makes it quicker to get ready when I need to go outside to close the hatch or look at stars. In the picture, the big silver cylinder is where the gas goes and where the lasing happens. The light comes out of there toward the left of the picture, then turns around and goes back through the bottom part of the setup (behind the blue panel) where the Raman cell is. There is a giant window on the end of the top part located conveniently at eye level for optimal optical safety :) They claim the window blocks some UV, and we've always got goggles on when the laser's on, but I still don't look anywhere near there when the thing is running. Of course for me it's about at forehead height, but for the rest of the world...

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