Thursday, January 25, 2007

How the telescope works

So Ive posted some pictures of the outside of the telescope and a few pictures of what the South Pole looks like, but I haven't shown any of the inner workings of the telescope. This has been a very big week for us and we have done so much that I could post a hundred pictures showing all of the work that has been done. I think I will show the insides of the cryostats later.
The picture of the telescope to the left shows the big mirror and a large white "boom" jutting off to the side. This boom is what contains the secondary mirror and the camera. It is a warm room that actually docks onto the rest of the building so that we can work on the camera in a warm space. Light coming in from the sky will hit the big primary mirror and focus onto a spot on top of the boom where there is a window. The light enters the boom or receiver cabin through this window and then bounces off another mirror called the secondary. After hitting the secondary the light finally gets to the camera, or receiver.
The wooden building is an extension of our lab. On it is the sliding door that opens up this space for the receiver cabin to dock onto. The pictures here show the inside of the wooden structure and the receiver cabin. The cryostat that I worked on is below and contains the secondary mirror. The telescope has docked and we are opening the trap door. As of tonight the secondary cryostat and receiver are bolted together. We lifted them up into the space above the trap-door and bolted them as a test fit. The guy in the beard is a grad student at U-Chicago named Joaquin. Below him is one of the Professors from Chicago Steve Meyer. I have been working a lot with the two of them on the insides of the secondary cryostat.

We have just finished working on the insides of the cryostats. Those have been in the works for four or so years and are finally ready for operating in our telescope. Because work on the individual cryostats took so long to complete, we had never actually put them together and tested them as a unit. Here we are about to bolt the red receiver cryostat to the optics or secondary cryostat. We are working below the trap door, using its chains as lifts. The guy standing here is a postdoc from Berkeley named Brad. He designed and put together the camera, or receiver if you wish. Kneeling down is his advisor.
It is a pretty tough to see exactly what is going on here, but trust me...we were extremely happy to get to this point and the view was amazing for us. This shows the cryostats mounted together and lifted into place in the telescope. It is as if you were one of the people in the picture above looking straight up.

We thought we would be at this point a yesterday instead of today, but after working from noon to six a.m. we decided to call it quits. Then today we got any remaining issues taken care of and we got all of this stuff put together. We decided to reward ourselves with our two favorite past times, foosball and a sauna. Here we are tonight relaxing and celebrating. Note that Joaquin's beard turned into one great mustache. And, just in case you forgot what I look like I included a piture of me working on the camera part of the cryostat.

1 comment:

Gail said...

Hi Zak. We saw your dad last night and he told us about your blog. It is exciting to read about your great experience and to understand a little more about how you are involved with this project. We'll keep checking in with great interest. Dan, Gail & Josh Nichols-Black Earth, Wisconsin