We finally got Black Cat closed around 3:30 AM early Sunday morning. It got down to a low enough pressure Monday morning to start cooling down, and we expect to start the first cooling cycle to get down to operating temperatures around 1:00 PM Thursday, which means we'll be ready to start taking initial data around 11:00 PM or midnight the same day. But that means the next couple days aren't all that busy, so we mostly took Monday off. I slept a bunch, then took a 3 hour nap in the middle of the afternoon, so my sleep cycle is a little messed up. I can't sleep right now, so I thought I'd post about some miscellany that I've missed the last few weeks.

     When the Norwegian Prime Minister was here a few weeks ago we took a station photo with him at the geographic pole. Here it is. I'm directly under the Norwegian flag, three people below it.

The entire station took a group photo with the Norwegian Prime Minister.

     Christmas Eve was the Race Around the World. The race is held every year and starts and stops at the geographic pole. This year the race was only 2.3 miles long, but it was plenty difficult given the altitude and the crappy weather we had. Here's a few photos taken by Chris Kendall:

People are encouraged to wear costumes for the race. This photo was taken where the runway intersects the path to SPT, about 1/5 of the way to the telescope. You can see how crappy the weather was. Windchill was something like -40 F.

This woman is normally a fuely - one of the folks who refuels the Hercs - but during the race she was a joggler. She juggled those balls the entire time.

Proof I ran the race. We're maybe 1/4 of the way through the race at this point and I already have some decent frost building up.

Some of the folks from the IceCube neutrino experiment built a chariot and were pulled by a van for the length of the race. Most people run or walk the race, but a handful ski, bike, or come up with some other mode of transportation.

Taken from the same location as the above photos, but looking the other way toward SPT, which is barely visible in the background.

The winner passing the ceremonial pole and approaching the finish line at the geographic pole. He finished with a time of 19 minutes, 3 seconds. I finished at 31:10.

     Chris left this past Saturday, but the day before he left he snapped this photo of me holding up the "Big Top" mylar tent we eventually installed on the backside of the focal plane. I coated the backside of the blanket with kapton tape to keep the blanket from shorting the pins sticking out of the 90 GHz pixel circuit board. Kapton is sort of orange in color and he grabbed this when the light from the ceiling was reflecting onto my face off the kapton just right to make my face glow golden.

My face glowing from ceiling light reflecting off of kapton on the back of the mylar tent we made.

     Here are some photos from our last close up. (I hope it was our last…) We made a number of changes. I mentioned the extra rings and braces we added to keep the readout towers from shaking in the last post. Here are a couple more shots of all that. We also added an extra filter to the front of the camera to reduce the power coming in and heating it up.

Top-down view of the changes we made to the back of the focal plane. The top anti-shake ring is visible, along with the aluminum bars connecting the three center modules and the braces holding the two outer towers to the ring. Below it is the mylar blanket we made to cover the circuit board to protect it from radiation heating it up.

I like this shot looking along five of the nine readout towers. All the changes we made to the focal plane really make it look like a spaceship or something.  I have to say, it looks significantly cooler than it did before.

Oh, man… even cooler and more like a spaceship after we installed the heat sinking supports.

     I’ll finish with a few more shots of the camera while we closed up. Good luck, Black Cat! Here’s to collecting awesome data that will let us do awesome science (and let me write my thesis)!

I went downstairs to notify everyone that Abby was coming down with the focal plane. In those few moments I was gone Tyler and Jay thought it’d be fun to take this spoof shot of Jay pretending to destroy the camera with a soldering iron heater. Complete with nefarious looking black “Nighthawk” anti-static gloves. Awesome shot. Jay and Tyler were bummed when I found the photo just a few minutes later when I was looking for pictures of how we installed the camera last time so we could do it the same way. Sorry, guys!

The camera installed in Black Cat yet again. Compare this to a similar photo I took a month or so ago. A lot has changed…

This is what the camera looked like right before we started putting on the radiation shields. This should be the last time anyone looks at it until next winter.