Monday, February 9, 2009

Day 2-5

Well I've just had a whirlwind of a few days, with little sleep and lots to do. But I'm in the arctic circle now for the duration, so things have slowed down and I have time to blog about the recent adventures.

Thursday through Sunday were spent in Fairbanks. Thursday was the day I spent at the University hanging around, making final travel plans, buying a new camera and getting over jet lag. Friday I went out to the rocket range near Fairbanks (called Poker Flat) and took all the pictures below. Poker is where the rocket my group worked on will launch.. (within a week or so, hopefully!) They are still working out some kinks and working on final assembly. I spent Friday and Saturday helping with random things where I was needed and spending the down time working on homework. I also got the grand tour of the facility. Imagine a big hill with a winding road cut into it and blue buildings or clusters of buildings every so often. There is the payload assembly building and the blockhouse buildings (right where the rocket launches) and the telemetry building and at the very top of the hill is the science center building where all the top people in the project will sit and determine when to launch the rocket. There is a cool observing balcony with a glass ceiling and walls so they can watch the aurora and see the rocket launching below.

Another thing that happened Friday is that I went to my first every contra dance! If you haven't heard of this before (I hadn't before Friday), please refer to YouTube. Meghan, a Dartmouth grad student also here to work on the rocket, invited me along. She does it all the time back in NH. It was loads of fun and the Alaskans were so cute... I don't think they get random out-of-town people coming to their Contra dances, they all wanted to dance with us and wanted us to come back again. My feet hurt a lot and I was sweating madly by the time we left, after 3 hours of dancing.

Sunday was the "day off" for the rocket range scientists and technicians. They get one of those every so often so people are not overworked. So we stayed in town that day and I went to the University with Brent to work on homework and go grocery shopping for my trip to Kaktovik. Also, there was a lasagna bake-off at my hotel room Sunday night! I was bumming a couch bed from Kristina (main scientist of the rocket), Meghan and Hanna (grad students). Meghan and a Cornell scientist, Steve, decided one day that they each could make a better lasagna than the other, so the bake-off was born. I also participated, but lost of course because mine was non-meat. Meghan's won over Steve's by quite a large margin I think. It was fun and lots of people from the range came, I think 30 people showed up over all.

Monday morning I left to come here, to Kaktovik and the Barter Island Long Range Radar Station. More about that in the next episode....

Pictures!! (Click to see really big versions)

Payload for Cascades2 (the rocket) in the payload assembly building

More payload

Brent standing with payload - you can see the UNH imager in the end there, the lens is covered with the white cloth

Meghan, Eric, Steve and Wallops guys working on something(?)

I think they're about the stand the payload up on end...

Up, up, up

Almost there... It's slightly important to do this slowly and carefully

It's vertical! I love Paul's expression in the background, very thoughtful.

Ta da! Meghan shows off a job well done.


  1. not that the rocket isn't lovely, but can we get some photos of Alaska? you know, out side?

  2. Ditto Jessamyn - Kaktovik (Inuuniagviat Qaaqtuvigmiut) will have about 7 hours of daylight this time of year. Plenty of time for capturing landscapes, as long as the ccd can get enough current to register light.

  3. yes, yes, if you look at the update, i have a few outside shots, and plenty to come from up here in kaktovik. i'm just more excited about the rocket! (a clue to how much of a nerd i am...)