NASA Logo, National Aeronautics and Space Administration

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Goddard Space Flight Center

Astrophysics Science Division | Sciences and Exploration

This website is kept for archival purposes only and is no longer updated.

Previous day ----- Main journal page

TIGER in Antarctica, December 5, 2003

Almost Flight Ready

The morning after the storm (December 3), I wake up with a pretty severe sinus infection. I take painkillers and decongestants and get to the point where I'm functioning (marginally). Lauren is also sick (with more flu-like symptoms) and is going to stay back in town today. But because we want to get some telemetry tests done today, either Lauren or I should be out at Willy field, so I plan on going. While loading up on the Deltas, we find out that NSBF probably can't support the telemetry test, so I decide to also stay in town and recover. It's a good decision, because the Deltas get out to Willy field and find the wind and visibility conditions are considerably worse than they had thought. So everyone comes back to town. I've just saved myself an hour and a half of pointless and uncomfortable travel. A day of rest is really helpful, and I get my laundry done as well.

D8 Bulldozer at work On December 4, we all get back out to Willy Field. In the morning, we notice some irregularities with the disk drive on the flight computer (directories with strange glitch characters, long access times, etc.). I'm pretty worried and continue to watch it closely. Sure enough, at about lunchtime we get "C: Not Found". It appears our 8 GB flight hard drive has crashed. Given that this drive was on the 70 mile parasailing ride when TIGER landed last trip, it's not too surprising that it's having problems. We have a smaller (4 GB) backup that will work, but isn't really large enough (TIGER and Anita combined can easily collect about 6 GB in a 30-day flight). So we grab a spare from the Anita team (which is 40 GB, unusable by our flight MS-DOS computer). I spend the afternoon doing a low-level format with four 2 GB partitions (the most this MS-DOS can handle), reload the software and get everything back working, but it takes a long time.

The Willy Airfield crew needs to do quite a bit of snow cleanup to get us "flight ready". At right is one of the big Cat D8 bulldozers pushing away the large snowdrift that developed behind the Pigbarn.

The Big D8 Bulldozer Cleaning up Willy Field

Setting up the Anita Antennas When we get back to town, we find that John Epstein, the TIGER Mechanical Designer, has arrived finally from Christchurch. He has spent quite a few extra days in Christchurch due to the storm. He's the only person on the TIGER and Anita teams who has more balloon experience than me. In fact, he's been flying balloons for just about as long as I've been alive.

On December 5, the new hard drive seems to be working well. Anita is putting on their antennae today (see picture at right), and the hang test is scheduled for December 7. You can also see in the picture how efficient the reflective patch on the back of the big red parka is. It took the light of the flash and turned it into a beacon. We finally get our telemetry test done, and we now seem to be getting both TIGER and Anita data and have some control over how much of the bandwidth goes to each instrument. Almost there.

Setting up the Anita Antennas

When we get back into town, I find out that despite the big backlog of people looking to go home, they have a seat for me tomorrow to Christchurch (I had originally said that December 6 was the earliest date I would leave). We're just about flight ready, and it doesn't look like we'll launch for a week or more. Also, I have meetings in San Francisco next week that my boss at NASA HQ would really like me to attend. I still won't get home until December 17th, but at least I'll be on the right continent. So I decide to jump on this opportunity.

It means I have to pack up my luggage and take it for weighing (and check-in) tonight. It puts me into quite a rush, but I get it done. I regret leaving TIGER before the launch, but once we're flight ready, there is not much to do until launch, and I've got other things that are also important.


Dr. Eric R. Christian
Washington, DC 20546 USA
This page was last modified on December 12, 2003