Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Had a pleasantly boring flight from Santiago to Antofagasto, with the exception of a amazingly picturesque departure out of the clouds when leaving Santiago - we climbed ever so gradually out of the mist, skimming along the cloud tops at breakneck speed. The video above captures it nicely.
Atop the mountain, I found one of the Auxiliary Telescopes at the far south station, looking like it was ready to go further than its rails allowed.
Also atop the mountain was the current schedule, which has had tasks crossed off as they proceed. So far, so good - things are on schedule.
One of the talents you must have as a black-belt interferometrist is to be able to pluck light out of the air!
What's funny is that, if I were a movie director with a very limited budget, filming some B-grade sci-fi flick, I'd probably come up with some prop that looks just like the optics above - I'd claim it was the starship drive or something like that.
Much of the work to be done on the optics is not accessible from the sides, because of the overwhelming clutter in the lab. Hence, the platform above the table is necessary for tinkering with the glass. Clearly I'm thrilled with another trip up top.
You see, once you're up top, to do the necessary work, a certain amount of gymnastics is necessary.
Here's another view of the work.
And here is the actual heart of the system - one of the two beam combiners that takes light from the two telescopes and puts it back together.