BARREL (Balloon Array for Radiation belt Relativistic Electron Losses) is a multiple-balloon investigation that will study Earth's Radiation Belts.
Atmospheric losses of relativistic electrons play an important role in radiation belt dynamics; precipitation into the atmosphere may even completely deplete the radiation belts in some cases.
BARREL is the first NASA Living With a Star Geospace Mission of Opportunity, and will support NASA's RBSP (Radiation Belt Storm Probes) mission.
Halley VI: Payload 1B was assembled into flight configuration (handles and upper solar panel mounts attached, cables all routed and taped down). We were waiting for the sun to come out all day so we could take the payload outside and test it with the solar panels, but it stayed cloudy. So, in the meantime, we completed bench testing of Payload 1D and assembled the solar panel mounts. We also load tested all the terminate batteries, completed leak testing of the helium inflation system, and did some ground station testing with UC Santa Cruz. With Warren working on that end, we were able to successfully test four ground station computers which each of four ground station modems.
We also had our first fire alarm at the station, and wouldn't you know it - my boots and jacket were on the other end of the building. Luckily, it was a false alarm! My boots are now right across the hall - I don't particularly want to walk out in the snow in socks.
SANAE IV: I only got an update from the SANAE team this morning so don't have a full report for the day. They tested their helium inflation system. They also gave an overview of the system to 5 of the SANSA students and 3 of the previous wintering team members. They were also load testing terminate batteries and starting to check out their first payload. We are still neck and neck!
A comment about these status reports: because we have really slow internet and are quite busy, these status reports are serving multiple groups of people simultaneously, including BARREL team members. Therefore, they may include more detail than you want! I apologize in advance, but we are doing the best we can to communicate with limited resources.
Weather outlook: Tuesday, Jan. 1 is still looking good at Halley VI as far as winds go. If it is as calm as predicted, we will attempt our first launch. Stay tuned - the forecast models will get better as we get closer to Tuesday.
BARREL cargo being offloaded from the RRS Ernest Shackleton
Cargo being transported to Halley VI about 40km away (and a 3.5 hour trip!)
BARREL cargo being lifted onto the station at Halley VI
Iridium antennas being installed on the roof of Halley VI