Comm2 Day 2: The ASM lives

Today we said goodbye to Alan. Thanks for all your help getting us up and running!

Marco, Katie, Jared, Alan, Laird, Tyson, and Vanessa. (not pictured: Alfio)

Even with Alan departing, the mountain is full to the brim with personnel, and we need all the space we can muster for the President of Carnegie’s visit later this week.

Every available dorm space has been claimed, and then some.

Today the crew installed the ASM. First they had to remove the other secondary mirror which was installed on the telescope, which took several hours. By mid-afternoon they were ready to install our secondary mirror (the ASM).

First, we moved the ASM into place, and cleared the area around the telescope.

We rolled the mirror, still covered in a protective layer of plastic, into the telescope chamber. The crew had to move some scissor lifts out of the way, so we had a place to put the mirror and cart safely away from the telescope.

In order to install the secondary mirror, it must be lifted by crane out of its cart and across the telescope chamber, over to the telescope structure. This is a nerve-wracking process, so the crew proceeds slowly and systematically. Thanks for a flawless install, everyone!

Because the crew cannot easily access the telescope when it is pointed straight up (“zenith-pointing”), the whole telescope structure is tipped down (“horizon-pointing”). When the telescope is horizon-pointing, the top of the telescope structure (where the ASM is mounted), lines up with a catwalk which extends around the dome.

The mirror was lifted from its cart with a crane which is attached to the telescope dome itself (yellow structure in the bottom right image). The crane can move toward or away from the dome wall, but can’t move sideways, so the entire dome is rotated to bring it over to the telescope.

After dinner, Laird and Marco connected the control and cooling lines to the ASM. We use a liquid cooling system to keep the mirror components at a safe operating temperature, so before powering on the ASM, we checked for leaks (we were A-OK). Then, Marco showed Katie how to power on and configure the ASM.

Marco and Katie work through the ASM startup.

Amazingly, the ASM started up on the first try! We were all pleasantly surprised, since the system had been sitting in storage for several months. In fact, the time from start to finish of the entire installation and startup process was only 7hr, including a leisurely dinner break.

The software control for the ASM after a successful startup. The window on the right shows a real time view of the postions and currents of each actuator in the mirror. The left window shows the status (the three green boxes at the top are good!)


The ASM wake-up wasn’t the only thing going on around the mountain today.

Jared showed off his thesis project. We’ll be mounting the whole assembly tomorrow, so check back in to hear all about it!

Jared shows off his thesis project (hint: not the crate cover).

We continued to cool and test Clio:

We attached a vacuum pump to one of Clio’s nitrogen reservoirs (via the clear tube coming out the top). By lowering the pressure in the reservoir, we can solidify the nitrogen. This serves dual purposes: it further cools the detector, increasing its sensitivity; it also keeps liquid nitrogen from spilling out of the reservoir when we turn Clio upside down.

And Alfio helped debug the wavefront sensor control software:

Alfio briefly takes over the command center.

Lest you think it’s all work and no play on the mountain, we squeezed in a few photo-ops:

Another pretty sunset from the catwalk:

A yellow-green flash, perhaps?

Along with an equally pretty moonrise:


Miss Vis made an appearance:

Miss Vis lazes in the shade.

And I took a couple pictures of Clay and Baade by moonlight:

Clay by moonlight.
And Baade too. Alpha Cen is at the very edge of the image in the upper right.

“Yay!” — Jared over the walkie talkie after Laird informed him the ASM was alive and well. (There was much rejoicing all around).
“You and Jared could power an approximately-infinite improbability drive.” — Vanessa’s parents after learning about the geographical coincidences mentioned in the previous blog post.