This week has been an exciting week ramping up to science. The Board of Visitor Staff Excellence Award Winners were announced by Director Armandroff and are as follows: Henry Cantu, Angela Davis, Steve Odewahn, and Trent Peterson. Congratulations to the winners.
We are quickly moving in to science mode with the upcoming new moon. Currently this week the first half of each night is being used primarily for science with the second half used for engineering due to the moon. The weather looks to be clearing over the holiday weekend, so hopefully we will be able to collect some good data for the HET community!
One of the many powerful thunderstorms that passed by us this month. This one produced hail just north of the HET.
This week we finally had a break in the stormy weather and started wave front sensor commissioning. A team from Austin came out and installed an imager and wave front sensor in the IHMP (Input Head Mounting Plate) to calibrate all other wave front sensors on the telescope. These devices once calibrated will help keep the tracker in perfect alignment with the mirror to optimize the observations we are taking for science. This will be the main focus for the next month. Hopefully the weather is more cooperative than it has been. If you would like to see a time-lapse of some of the recent storms follow this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=shRD2WmPWd4
16 Virus units and their controllers lined up in the HET receiving bay. The controllers are the small boxes near the center of the image.
This week has been a busy one for the virus units at the HET. All of the virus units were removed from the enclosure, backfilled, pumped to vacuum and reinstalled. While doing this cooling fans were installed on all of the virus controllers to help keep the electronics cool. They hope that this will make the virus system a bit more stable.
The HET has been churning out lots of science during dark time this month as well. All groups that have submitted targets have received data!
In the past week we finished cleaning up the upper hex. In the process we had to move some of the cameras around in our internal views of the dome so the view located at:
http://het.as.utexas.edu/wfu might look a bit strange until we get around to moving the cameras back into place.
This week we will be starting the metrology of the upper hex in preparation for putting on the upper and lower X rails. This metrology is done with a laser tracker and small “nest” mirrors placed around the telescope structure. Other activities this week will include finishing up the cable-ways in the lower electrical room and spectrograph room, work on the structure azimuth cable wrap, and work on the static cable ways. It is amazing the amount of power wires, optical cables, glycol and air lines that need to be strung up.
We are still right on schedule.
In the past week we finished most of the work on the Virus Support Structure (VSS) and on Friday were able to have the first rotation including the new air bearings under the VSS. In addition, we had some of the team working on sealing the dome enclosure. Vicki worked on the outer vents at the base of the ring wall and Logan and Kathryn worked on the dome and sealed the nodes near top.
This week we will be finishing the clean up of the upper hex removing the trollies, encoders and last of the interconnects. We will also make room for the new JLG man-lift (we call Jr.) on the dome floor. This work is in preparation for the work that John Good will start in Nov.
This past week we worked on getting the Virus Support Structure (VSS) cross supports and over-turn preventers welded into place. Other activities included test digs around the location of the liquid nitrogen tank and the vault for the remote thermal area, setting up the air system for the VSS and continued work on the cable-ways for the lower electrical room.
This next week we should finish the VSS work which means that we should be able to unlock structure rotation. If all goes well we will now have the Structure firmly welded to the VSS and they should rotate together as if they were one system.
In the past week we had great guys from Crane Services out to the HET to remove the old tracker bridge from the dome, move the new lower X and upper X assemblies onto the dome floor, and move the VSS into place. It all went very smoothly and they finished on Thursday about 1 hour before a small windstorm (by West Texas standards) moved in.
There are numerous pictures taken by:
Dave Doss of the Old Tracker lift
Dave Doss of the VSS installation
and here is a picture of the tracker removal taken from Renny Spencer who was purposefully stranded up on the upper X beam to monitor the lift.
There is even a movie produced by Eusebio Terrazas:
This next week we will be tuning up the VSS, putting in the diagonal bracing and getting ready to hook it up to the air bearing system. Other work at the HET includes putting in cableways in the lower electrical room and spectrograph room, stripping the old coating from the primary mirror segments that were removed before the upgrade began, and applying extra sealant to the dome nodes.
Last week we finished the painting of the CCAS tower and the removal of the equipment on upper X hex.
This week we will expect a crane to arrive on Monday and from Tuesday through Friday we will be removing the old tracker bridge, install the Virus Support Structure and stage the upper and lower X rail assemblies for the new tracker onto the dome floor. The upper and lower X rail assemblies will be shipped from CEM in Austin to McDonald on Monday so that they will be on site Tuesday morning. The road to the top of the mountain will be closed to non-essential personnel.
We are still on schedule.
In the last week the first components of the WFU went into place. We are currently right on schedule.
This week we will be clearing out the last components at the top of the tracker, finishing the removal of any old interconnects on the ground and prepping the dome floor for the next big crane lifts in the following week.
Also we will have painters out at the HET site repainting the CCAS tower white and painting the side of the tower that faces the mirror flat black. Hopefully someone will have some before and after shots of this work.
For this week we have two priorities: 1) we are in the process of cleaning up the upper and lower hex, specifically the lower and upper rails that the old tracker rides on and 2) we are putting in the VIRUS cross support structures. This cross support structures are really the first (of many) pieces of the Wide Field Upgrade equipment to be installed at the HET!