Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Where coffee machines go to die...

The trouble started mid last week when the most critical sub-system in the telescope (the hopelessly over-worked coffee machine) packed up on us...  Basic rescue procedures failed & so it was sent back to Cape Town for repairs.  A couple of days later we lost the clear half of the night to payload problems & the next day the tracker joined in the protest action - we've been stranded ever since! 

The tracker crisis was traced to sporadic communication errors between the tracker PC & the PMAC macro station, although many suspect a pact with the coffee machine.  Unfortunately the spare PMAC card is a later model than the original & since it's not supported by the software, we're waiting on specialist help from the guys that built the tracker.  Hamish partly compensated for these frustrations by providing alternative IT support to those not directly involved in the tracker battle!

Pete in particular seems to be enjoying the freedom associated with RSS being back on the telescope - time now to work on his boarding skills :)

SALT's humble little coffee percolator has been pressed into Heavy service these past few days.  It's held up bravely, but today it too collapsed under the strain so we're now on to our 3rd coffee machine in 6 days...

Frightening times ahead as we wait for the old coffee machine (which lives in the SALT building in Cape Town these days) to get back up here.  For now, progress on the largest optical telescope in the southern hemisphere hinges on this fragile instrument!

On a much happier note, Eric Hooper's finally arrived on our dark continent!  Eric's out here from Wisconsin to support the RSS commissioning efforts &, with SALT Astronomer Alexei, will keep the show on the road this week while Ken takes a well-deserved break in Cape Town .  

Getting Eric prepared for the job called for a live brain-transplant from Ken - rather a harsh welcome after such a long flight, followed by the drive up here.  Hang in there Hooper!


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