Science can be a callous and uncaring partner. Oh, and though your relationship may begin warmly and obscurely, followed by a passion for discovery and truth, science turns its back on you and tells you, ‘Find your own path. ..I’m busy.”
Team members at MIT’s Haystack Observatory, with whom I’ve shared a Haughton-Mars Project (HMP) camp for the past three weeks, may need science couples therapy when they return to Boston. Haystack; Rigel Cappallo, a postdoctoral researcher there; and Jason Soo Hoo, his IT Manager at Haystack and the nominal Principal Investigator of the Field for this deployment. All cooperate with his EDGES experiment.
When asked, each of them claims they’re simply helping Alan E.E. It organically takes on responsibilities that are perfectly commensurate with the set. EDGES is an experiment to detect global epochs of reionization signatures (opens in new tab), and, as noted earlier in this series, previous efforts to measure hydrogen reionization in the early universe by listening to some of the earliest radio frequency signals ever using passive radio astronomy. I’m trying to validate They come from primordial hydrogen about 150 million years after the Big Bang, when the first stars began to form.
Related: A Month on Mars: Trekking the Ingenuity Valley
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Shortly after arriving at the HMP and identifying a clean, flat area not far from the base, but far enough away to not be affected by radio frequency interference from the base, John, Rigel, and Jason were 5.5 miles (9 kilometer) stretch for several days. ) Arrange the wires in a grid pattern — run the wires back and forth along north-facing rectangles a few inches apart. Even placing the grid was difficult. Magnetic compasses don’t work well near the poles, so I had to collate multiple GPS readings and eventually build a rudimentary sundial to ascertain true geographic north. This grid, or ground plane, ensures that the antenna’s response is smooth in frequency and direction and unaffected by unknown subsurface rock formations.
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To accomplish this task, the experiment had to be placed as radio-quiet as possible. So they moved about 15 degrees away from the geographical North Pole. There, terrestrial radio noise is minimal, keeping eyes away from the radio-noisy center of our Milky Way galaxy. But even here he sees false emissions in the FM band, so the team has worked tirelessly to make the observations as perfect as possible.
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They wake up early in the morning and travel a mile (1.6 kilometers) across rough terrain to the antenna site. It’s not a far-fetched sound, but it’s certainly no fun in very cold temperatures with the wind blasting in your eyes and mouth and bouncing over bumpy and choppy terrain on your aging ATV. While two are working on the EDGES antenna rig, the other needs to stand guard, scanning in 360-degree patterns and watching out for any polar bears that may be roaming. Always as a seal. This routine, which for weeks he repeated every eight hours, has kept him always in a radiant spirit during this overcast day.
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Early on, John worked tirelessly and tirelessly to develop the software that drove the antenna and its heating unit. With a razor-like brain and wit to match, Rigel is the other half of the field experiment. Jason, who has spent years in the IT world and has traveled to Antarctica in a similar role, supports these efforts.
A month in “MARS” looking back:
From day one of work, they have struggled to identify radio frequency interference. no matter how small it is. Filtering out FM radio transmissions from distant stations was easy. After weeding them out, the trio walked around his HMP base and the surrounding area with handheld RF meters. He seemed to have one spike of interference coming from. Something, However, since it did not change depending on the location, it was suggested that the detector itself might be malfunctioning.
The first week was spent getting the EDGES system working properly. Previous versions, including in the Australian Outback, had him deployed twice, but had never been tested in this extreme cold. The antenna system is remote from the camp and is powered by batteries. At these temperatures, it is exhausted within 8-10 hours after the first attack. I also had problems properly turning on the system’s internal heater. The system’s software default settings were not properly configured for the local environment and programming had to be tweaked.
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Even after the software issue was resolved, erroneous radio noise was still being detected, and the team has spent the past 10 days trying to determine the possible cause. It could be internal to the system — some interference from circuitry or power sources — or activity from the sun, or interaction with the Earth’s magnetosphere or ionosphere could be the problem. It’s not far from where the magnetic field surrounding our planet intersects the Earth at the North Magnetic Pole. It’s been slow going, but they’re collecting his data 24/7, and Rigel plans to spend the first few weeks back in Boston analyzing the results. With any luck, they’ll not only find the culprit for the interference they detected, but perhaps also some usable data from deep space.
While the tangible results of this EDGES deployment remain to be seen, we do know that valuable engineering work has been done and that Devon Island is one of the quietest places in the northern hemisphere. How this team at Haystack works so well together in the face of adversity, and in the end, that may be their most rewarding achievement.
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