Thursday, April 1, 2010

So long equipment, see you in Houston!

The Boise State microgravity teams have completed the first full integration of both the lunar traction and impedance experiments...just in time for the April 1st shipment deadline! It has been a week of hard work, team bonding, and lopsided sleeping patterns. Nonetheless, one of the team's biggest 2010 milestones has been met, and everyone is in good spirits.

Both teams experienced (and endured) slight bumps on the road of fabrication: the lunar traction team devised clever software modifications in order for the motor to drive the wheel as expected, while the impedance team's accelerometer malfunctioned only moments before packing. Fortunately, the BSU Microgravity U team is fully equipped with quick thinkers and problem solvers! All is well and both experiments are nestled safely within large boxes and an excessively large mass of packing peanuts. As you can see, Travis and Andrew tested the capacity of one of the shipping boxes. It was difficult convincing Travis that he couldn't stay in the box. We won't reveal the pictures taken when removing him.

Other excitements of this week included a quick design and build of a small Styrofoam cooler to house and insulate a frozen soil sample during flight. Clever and sophisticated use of magnets will secure the lid and seal the frozen sample after it has been exposed to dry ice for several hours before flight testing. The lunar traction team integrated a linear position sensor to control and monitor the distance the wheel travels in the regolith (rumors indicate that Caldwell High School's wheel design far surpasses others and is anticipated to provide VID--very important data). In addition to fabrication, partial disassembly, packaging, and shipping, thorough tests and full in-flight procedures were conducted on the ground. The results: success!

It was a heartbreak saying goodbye to the Wayne Kerr Impedance Analyzer, and until our departure on April 7th, we will try to remember that this is a relatively short separation. We will be reunited with all of our equipment soon! And so will begin the real adventure...

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