Summer Update

This has been a really busy, hectic summer, especially in the last month or so. Everyone in our lab at UNH has worked like crazy to get all of our instruments ready for the rocket launch coming up this fall.  A big thanks goes out to everyone that helped us make the deadline, it literally took a small army to pull it off.

This is pretty much everything that we put together for this summer.  It may be a bit underwhelming but I guarantee a TON of work went into these bits of hardware.
This is pretty much everything that we put together for this summer. The view in this picture may be a bit underwhelming but I guarantee a TON of work went into these bits of hardware.  They’ll look super cool once they get strapped to the rocket!

I’ll have more details about the rocket mission itself (called RENU 2) as we get closer to the launch in November. For now I just want to share a little update about what I’ve been up to this summer.

It felt like the imager spent most of the summer in pieces like this but by the end it all came together.
It felt like the imager spent most of the summer in pieces like this but by the end of the summer it all came together.

Most of my work has been focused on getting the imager ready.  The work I did included everything from designing mechanical parts for the machine shop to create to soldering tiny electronic components under a microscope.  In very simplistic terms, the imager is basically a super fancy digital camera. Hopefully the picture above shows that in reality the imager is a little more complicated than a GoPro. This is just one of five instruments UNH is responsible for providing.

One of our electron instruments, the EPLAS, had to be tested in a vacuum chamber to make sure it worked properly.  Here Ian (a recent UNH grad) is explaining to another student how the EPLAS (the little can in the center) works in the chamber.
One of our electron instruments, the EPLAS, had to be tested in a vacuum chamber to make sure it worked properly. Here, Ian (a recent UNH grad) is explaining to another student how the EPLAS (the little can in the center) works in the chamber.

In addition to the imager, we have an instrument to measure UV light, a magnetometer, and two different types of electron instruments (one for high energy electrons and one for low energy). I should have plenty more pictures of the imager and the rest of the instruments to share later.  After building and testing all the instruments, we packed everything up very carefully so I could drive it all down to NASA Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on the east side of Chesapeake Bay.

NASA Wallops Flight Facility is where we first integrate our instruments onto the rocket itself.  It's located way down the DelMar peninsula near the southern tip of Assateague Island (known for their wild horses, hence the cover photo).
NASA Wallops Flight Facility is where we first integrate our instruments onto the rocket itself. It’s located way down the DelMarVa peninsula near the southern tip of Assateague Island (known for their wild horses, hence the cover photo).

I survived the Jersey Turnpike and am now in Chincoteague, VA waiting to get started in the morning.  The ten hour drive down the coast is just the first leg of my next nerdventure. I’ll be here for a week and a half or so making sure everything gets properly attached to the rocket payload and turns on as planned. I hope to post some more pictures of integration as things go along, so stay tuned.

In the meantime, if you’d like to see some information about past rocket launches our lab has been a part of feel free to peruse the MIRL website.