Friday, November 22, 2013

New paper with BARREL

A new paper using BARREL data is out and is open access! This last campaign we had some great conjunctions with the Colorado Student Space Weather Experiment's cube sat.  Some great science has come out of this collaboration and is now in a Geophysical Research Letters (GRL) in the Van Allen Probe's special issue.

New conjunctive CubeSat and balloon measurements to quantify rapid energetic electron precipitation by Blum et al GRL 2013 

It was wonderful to collaborate with Lauren and the rest of the cubeSat team. I hope this is just the first of many such collaborations. We have a few others that have been submitted and are in the process of being submitted. As they come out we'll make sure to keep everyone up to date. 

Congrats Lauren et al on a great paper! 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Setting up the collaborations with the Van Allen Probe teams

Things are all coming together. We've shipped the payloads, we have the tickets bought for the teams heading to the ice, we have our ground stations all set up and waiting for that first call. We've gotten the mustered to take to the ice (if you want condiments for your sandwiches in Antarctica make sure to bring your own). Okay we're keeping busy with a bunch of other things still left to prepare for, but the nerves and excitement are starting to kick in as we plan the collaborations with the Van Allen Probe teams.

Today was that next real step, at least for me, for this campaign. I've been busy helping out in the lab when needed, processing and studying data and events from the last campaign, helping to ship our payloads and equipment, writing papers and giving talks, and every once in awhile talking with our colleagues about the coming season and how we may do things differently from last year. But today I started joining the EFW SOC telecoms to start officially talking about and planning this years campaign coordinations. It now feels real, the 2014 Campaign is here and starting. We are no longer preparing for it; it is here.

Today's SOC meeting was mostly spent catching up on what our plans are for BARREL. When will we get to the ice, when is the earliest possible launch date, when is the likely first launch date, how long will the campaign likely run. Questions to frame the time period where we'll be in close communications. Then the important questions, where will we have our breakfast meeting at the American Geophysical Meeting (AGU) in San Francisco and will there be bacon. Okay so that last part I added (everything is better with bacon). At AGU, when we can all sit down face to face with some coffee in hand, we plan to meet with all the teams and people who will be making these quick decisions. Hopefully we'll figure out when best to ask the satellite teams to go into burst mode, how long will it take to get that data down, and how much data can we collect before we start writing over something interesting.

The excitement is starting and it's hitting home that we're really not that far away from launching the first payload of the second BARREL campaign. That first launch is no longer months away but weeks from now.  We are so thankful for the wonderful help and support we have gotten from the different Van Allen teams as well as from our other colleagues . It will be a blast to be working so closely with them again this year, I only hope they feel the same way :).

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

We're on our way...

This post is a bit late, but we've been busy! Everything has now been shipped to South Africa and will soon be on it's way by boat to Antarctica. The campaign is really almost here.

We've labeled all the SKB's (those big black crates). Inside most of them are our payloads, almost all put together to make it easy for the teams at the ice to get them set up and do the final testing. They are also easier to pack this way. Once we pack them up in the lab at Dartmouth, we have to drive them over to the shipping center. Thank goodness a few of us have larger cars so we can get a few of them in at a time. 

The shipping center isn't far away, but once there it's a lot more work to be done. First we have to take all the supplies which aren't packed in SKBs, such as the balloons and the solar panels which are shown below, and pack them on slates. The wooden platform is built so that it can be easily carried by the fork lift. In order to make sure that everything stays put we first try to tighten everything down with some strategically placed ribbons. We then essentially have to wrap the whole lode with saran wrap. 

Once everything is packed we "stage it". All that means is that we move all of the packages to the loading dock. 

Then it's just a waiting game till the shipping truck comes and picks them up. And now they are off to South America. 

Remember that during the campaign we will be live tweeting the the payloads are launched, cutdown, and other interesting tidbits. 

See you all at AGU!