08 October 2010

Fairbanks, still

I was supposed to be leaving this evening, but was unable to get my ELF coils completely finished, so I am staying for two more days. I was looking forward to going home, but science must be done!

Wednesday night, Matt and I drove out to Poker around 10pm for the aurora imaging. It was my first time seeing the aurora and it was amazing. I thought at first it was just clouds, then it started to move a little bit and become more defined. It was gorgeous. A++ would see again. The problem: my imager wasn't working. I had something wired incorrectly and two of the circuit boards within the imager had come undone during shipping causing pins to bend. The imager appears to be working now, but there might not be another opportunity for me to go out and take images due to cloud cover. There was a coronal mass ejection a few days ago that will probably hit the Earth tomorrow. After I drop Matt off at the airport, I might drive out to Poker and see if the clouds are going to break.

Aurora set-up

Seriously the aurora is awesome.

I didn't have my super amazing camera with me, so the longest exposure I could take is 8s. I was reading online that 20 second exposure time is about right for the aurora.

The ULF coils appear to be in working order. I moved them far away from the supposed noise source. In order to move the coils, I wanted to roll up the entire 1000 feet length of cable so I could lay it out nicely. Everything is moving along swimmingly, I am able to roll the spool of cable by myself over the dead trees, plants, up the hill, until I get to a riometer antenna. Someone in their infinite wisdom, ran my cable between the riometer post and the tree it was attached to. Whomever put the mast in must have thought to themselves, "Oh I know a great way to keep these cords from moving around, I'm going to run it behind my mast". I ended up disconnecting the cable from inside the science center and meeting my cable halfway. A bit frustrating.

The acquisition system ran over night and the data was okay. It is still a bit noisy, so we will see what they look like tomorrow. I used a pickax and buried the coils already, I hope I do not have to move them again. I triple checked to see if there were any noticeable sources of noise.

Oh yes, it snowed today. It wasn't that cold and not very heavy. I was a little worried I wouldn't be able to find my coils again because the cable would be covered in snow. Luckily, that was not the case.

I have had to repair a few breaks in the main sensor cable jacket. My advisor sent me silicone tape which I call fruit by the foot tape. It looks like the sugary fruit leather type thing on a piece of plastic. The tape works amazing well. It's seals, sticks to itself, and is quite fetching.

The ELF coils are giving me massive amounts of grief. There is a noise problem which I cannot track done. I thought the gain on the system was the source: no. I tested the cable to see if all the connectors were functioning: yes. Generated signal passing through: just fine. The coil is a black box to me. We purchased it and I have never seen inside. I had to buy a screw driver this evening with a small enough bit to open it up. Tomorrow the black box will no longer be black. I really want to figure out what is going on!!

Alaska is still a funny place to me. I receive the local paper every morning and this on the front page a few days ago. I would like to know their definition of "crowd".

Almost every day for lunch, we drive down to the Chatanika Lodge. It is the closest restaurant to the research range for miles and miles. Inside, there is a gimmick of writing on a dollar bill and stapling it to the wall or ceiling. Marc told me there are many dollars from previous rocket campaigns, but I have yet to sight them.

When we were there for lunch on Tuesday, it was a polling place for borough elections. There was one polling booth.

Two more days and then I will be home. I like Alaska and the snow was pretty today, but I am not looking forward to driving in it, nor am I looking forward to any hole digging I might have to do with the ground starting to freeze.

I'm off to bed and an early start tomorrow.

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