ATTREX: Fourth week of work

Day22: Pre-Flight

Today I’m getting readyfor my first Science Flight. On day 15, I described a little bit our pre-flightprocedure; but different from that time, we are adding some temperature logsaround our aircraft zone. The temperature logs are small devices that monitorthe temperatures wireless; and once the data is collected we can quicklydownload it to our computer.

For us, it is veryimportant to have a good estimation of the temperatures around our instruments,because there is a risk of freezing the canisters’ valves if temperatures reachvery cold values. Could you imagine this scenario?… it would be impossiblefor us to open the bottles and collect air samples. But, do not panic!!!! Rightnow we count with heater cables that keep our instrument warm. It’s just thatwe need to have a better idea of the ideal temperature to turn our heaterson  and off. 


Oneof the five temperature log devices we use in AWAS aircraft zone.

Day23: Science team meeting

Similar to what we didon day 10, today we had our Science team meeting in preparation for our firstScience Flight. As I mentioned before, we usually talk about flight plans,science targets and meteorological issues. But, today we also had theopportunity of seeing preliminary results from the Mini-DOAS team. It wasinteresting to hear how the instruments work (check Max’s blog if you want tohave a better idea), and see that their results from the range flight were inreasonable agreement with last year’s data. Way to go Mini-DOAS team!!!

 Today, we also were able to confirm oursuspicion…Yes, AWAS will be powered down every time the aircraft descends. Eventhough it is a little inconvenient for us (yes, we will have to be awake forthe 24 hours the flight lasts, as the instrument could need to be powered downat any time) I still believe it would be a wonderful experience. We can findout how our instrument behaves during sequential power switch, and how cleanour samples would be after each interruption. As I said it before, the beautyof our work is the fact there is always something new to learn.   


Scienceteam meeting (a lot of smart people together….)


MaxSpolaor (from Mini-DOAS team) showing how their instrument works.

Day24: First Science Flight (CANCELLED)

OMG! yes, there is noother expression…our flight was cancelled. We already knew that this could behappen, as the meteorological data from our science meeting showed theprobability of icy conditions. But, still we had the hope of a change to theweather, or at least, proceed with the flight but return before the conditionsdeteriorate. In any case, I felt that it was not meant to be. My heart wasbroken…but hey, at least I could go back to sleep and try to recover some“beauty” sleep. 

New schedule forflight: Tuesday Jan 29th, 2013…stay tuned 


Yes,it looks like we are not going anywhere under this cloudy condition…


The weather looks awful here!


Day25-26: More data analysis and Media day

The weekend isapproaching, but we still have tons of things to do. I started my day bylooking at some data from the chemical analysis of our canisters. Last weekendwe tested our new gas chromatograph mass spectrometer (GC-MS), and here is thefun part: to calculate the area of the peaks provided by this instrument. It isa simple procedure since the location of the peaks and an estimation of thearea was previously determined by the software. We just need to double checkthat those peaks are the correct ones, and that the areas are calculated right(we need precision on our compound concentrations)

In the mean time, I gota little distracted because today was Media day! I was really impressed withthe amount of photographers, reporters and videographers who came to the hangar(yes, we are going to be famous!) The interviews were given to our principalinvestigators, and the hangar looked beautiful surrounded by posters about ourinstruments and missions. I am not sure where all these media presentations aregoing to be posted, but I would love to see them. If I find the information Iwill pass it along, so you can also enjoy the program.

My last news for today,and I believe is one of the most important, is that I’m going to take Sundayoff! I’m going to take advantage of this free day and go for a short road tripwith my colleagues from Harvard (Jasna Pittman and Bruce Daube). We are headingto Red RockCanyon and Mt. Whitney!!!…see!Not everything is work…There is also entertainment on the ATTREX mission.

GC-MS Data Analysis

Reporters during Media Day