ATTREX: Second week of work

Day 7: A way to do it wrong!

Well,besides continuing to clean canister (with my warm oven), today we had ourfirst communications test (IT test). This test evaluates if our instrumentreceive the commands from our ground computer, and if it communicates throughthe right satellites. The procedure is very simple. The instruments are poweredup one by one and the network engineers check for the signals inside theaircraft and through the satellites. In our case, we use our ground computer tomonitor the signals by receiving something we call “engineering packet”, arecord of all the commands we send and receive from both aircraft and groundcomputers. During the test, I saw how all instruments were tuned on and workingfine, until finally our instrument was turned on but, we did not see any engineeringpacket (bummer!!!). I couldn’t help but wonder…what were wrong with ourinstrument? I felt extremely disappointed. I performed several bench tests andboth computers communicated perfectly. I also double checked that the aircraftcomputer was turned oncorrectly before performing the test, so, what went wrong? I thought a lotabout it while I was walking back from the operation center to the hangar, butthere was something else that really bothered me…I think it was the embarrassmentbecause our instrument was the only one that didn’t work…Luckily, we wereable to go to the runway and check our aircraft computer. We realized then,that the aircraft computer did not open the default program so it wasimpossible for it to communicate. Once we solved the problem and confirmed thateverything was working fine, I decided to get rid of my embarrassment by rememberingthe great words of Benjamin Franklyn: “I didn’t fail the test, I justfound 100 ways to do it wrong.”

The aircraftbeen pull out from the hangar to runway for IT test

Global Hawksatellite antenna

Members ofeach team in the Global Hawk Operation Center during IT test.

Day 8 and 9: Sick Days!

It is Wednesday, Jan 9th, exactly one weekworking at Dryden. The job has been going really well, but now,it is me who does not feel well.

I took some time off to recover from a terriblepoison food. Being sick during my field work has been one of my worst experiences.I honestly tried to rest on my hotel room, but subconsciously, I was stillthinking about how things were going in the hangar. Fortunately, things wererunning smoothly and my team did not need me around. I bet interesting thingshappened at Dryden, but more excited things are about to happen!


Day 10: Here is the plan!

I came back to work today. I kept cleaningthe canisters (fortunately the last set), but the most interesting part of theday was our first Science meeting. Around 1: 00 pm all the scientists met withthe Principal Investigators (Eric Jensen and  Lenny Pfister)to talk about flight plans, science targets and meteorological issues.  Itseems like the flight strategies are pretty clear, and the weather seems tocooperate for the flight proposed for next week. Let’s just hope we can completeall the combine system tests on time, thus we can be ready for our first scienceflight!!!, and let me enjoy the weekend, which weather seem to be prettyawesome too!!!

DAY 13: CST,PRE-CST, PRE2 CST…which one is it?

Well, to be honest, today I felt like I wasin an operating room, but outside…in the waiting area. We started our morningready for a CST (combine system test), a communication test that involved thescience teams and the aircraft pilots. Unfortunately, the Ku- band system failed for almost half of the  day and we did not have any other option thanwait until it was fixed…Yes, these things happens and it is no one fault…forthis reason you should always be prepare and expect the unexpected during fieldwork.

Around 3:00 pm Ku-band became operative.However, the CST turned into a PRE-CST (the same exercise but w/o pilots) asthe pilots were not available at the moment. The bright side of this test was the successful result of ourinstrument. We were finally able to communicate through both bands KU andIridium.

AWAS ground computer during Pre-CST (yes!!! It is working)

3 thoughts on “ATTREX: Second week of work”

  1. Hope you are feeling better for the rest of the mission! Thank you for sharing so much of your work!

  2. The road of least resistance is persistance. The 101st worked. Glad you are feeling better. Food poisoning and sea sickness = the worst !

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