Friday, June 18, 2010
The journey from Hawaii to Lancaster was taken in record time due to heavy tailwind. This ment we could go for another calibration attempt, but now at the DC-8's home base. Conditions were perfect, but now TERAS was giving us troubles again. Only partial calibration results were obtained. In combination with the observations of a setting Venus, which is also useful for determining atmospheric extinction, we should however be fine.
After getting our equipment removed from the airplane it was moved into the lab for a final calibration round under perfect conditions. At the moment we have everything packed up so we can send our equipment on its way back to Europe tomorrow morning.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Monday, June 14, 2010
Calibration images were taken, the window was checked for icing, and then we could do nothing else than wait. Entering the observation track In Coma Bernices, the star field to aim for, was easily found. The second round went fine too. Waiting for the final round felt like taking an eternity. We were able to pick up Hayabusa quite early on its track. The was predicted accurately by computational models. Tracking went perfect and we could follow Hayabusa's path for a long time. The brightness of the capsule was a bit higher then calculated. Something we were prepared for with our high framerate cameras. All cameras acquired data, but after only half a second the camera with the big lens stopped recording. It had not given us any problems during preparations, unlike the other cameras. The other three cameras did give us very nice data. Today we will do the final calibrations for that.
Sunday, June 13, 2010
First footage was published through the NASA website. A small outtake was already published through YouTube:
As you can see the capsule separates cleanly from the rest of the vehicle that then disintegrates. I can't wait to see the rest of the data that has been gathered by the LIME team and the other teams! A sharper version of the footage can be found as an AVI and on this webpage.
Setting up the equipment and recording went fine. Finding the star cluster where Hayabusa should first be visible for us needed a couple of rounds on the race track because our pointing camera was not able to spot the brighter stars that we would like to have used to fix our orientation. The window frame was in the way. Realizing this we could finally find the star cluster, which appeared rather dim on the virtual reality headset. The recordings looked fine.
When we left the racetrack to head back in a 90 minute flight to Melbourne the system failed again on us. Possibly because of a power glitch. We will have a few hours left to get it all sorted out before the actual re-entry of Hayabusa. This will take place on June 13th around midnight. Live video feeds will be available. For more information see the Official SETI blog.
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Soon after takeoff the instruments were mounted in front of the optical grade windows to get ready for testing the equipment. After a few hours of testing the ball mount got disconnected. We took the cameras away from the window and investigated what the problem was. A missing bolt… The result was that we could not do any further tests with the cameras an we had to go find the bolt somewhere in Australia. After landing at the airport in Melbourne 5 canisters of DEET were emptied before anyone could exit the airplane. An empty airport awaited us when we entered Australia.
June 11th, we found the bolt in a specialized shop and installed everything in the airplane. It had been raining all day and, probably due to condensation, the floor around the rack holding our equipment was completely wet. We were happy to find out everything is still working. The rain was also the cause of cancelation of the calibration for that night.