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  • raul_monsalve 4:21 pm on November 2, 2013 Permalink | Reply  

    Deployment of the EDGES-2 Experiment 

    As you may know from previous blog posts, a radio astronomy experiment called the Experiment to Detect the Global Epoch of Reionization Signature (EDGES) is set up in the outback of Western Australia in a large, remote radio astronomy facility called the Murchison Radio Observatory (http://www.atnf.csiro.au/facilities/mro.html). Although our group at ASU, the Low-Frequency Cosmology (LOCO) Laboratory, can communicate with EDGES via the Internet, we also visit the site a couple times a year to bring improved equipment and new parts. This trip is particularly exciting because we have brought out an entirely new antenna that we call EDGES-2, and we think it is going to be a lot better than the first EDGES.

    Here’s a re-cap of our first week: After arriving in Perth (on the western coast of Australia), we drove north, first to a town called Geraldton, to pick up some equipment and for me to receive some training since it is my first trip out to the site. On the way we stopped at an amazing national park, called Nambung, which is home to geologic formations called “The Pinnacles,” which are big limestone pillars: http://parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au/park/nambung

     

    The Pinnacles on the way to Geraldton

    The Pinnacles on the way to Geraldton

    After stopping in Geraldton for the night, we drove out to Boolardy Station, the 1,000 square-kilometer “ranch” that houses the Murchison Radio Observatory. The homestead of Boolardy provides accommodations and food for visiting scientists and engineers and from there we drive 40 minutes each day out to the MRO, often passing many interesting animals—both wild animals and livestock.

     

    Australian iguana

    Australian iguana

     

    Brahman bull

    Brahman bull

     

    We spent the first few days dismantling the old EDGES, running cables, adding new equipment to the computer area in our “hut” and setting up the EDGES-2 antenna. We also set up a new weather station that I built that will provide temperature and humidity data from the area near the antenna.

    Weather station

    Weather station

     

    One nice thing about working out here, where we have a small space among larger radio antennas, is that there is both power and a fast internet connection that allows us to keep our experiment running and keep in touch with it at all times. The internet is good for another thing, too… Because of the time change, the ASU football team was playing Washington State at 10:30 a.m. our time on Friday morning (7:30 p.m. AZ time on Thursday night). Although we weren’t able to watch the game, we could check the score throughout the morning. Glad to see that ASU won!

    In the afternoon yesterday, while we were working on some final set-up for the antenna, we suddenly felt like we were being watched. We then noticed that a very curious emu was circling us to check things out. Luckily we had the camera out with us and the emu was sufficiently curious that we had plenty of time to take pictures.

    Emu behind the scenes

    Emu behind the scenes

     

     

    Emu surrounding us

    Emu surrounding us

    Our last bit of excitement upon heading back to the homestead last night was a large dust storm on the horizon. Not as dramatic as an Arizona haboob, but still pretty impressive.

    Dust storm

    Dust storm

     

    Today we should get EDGES-2 up and taking data. Stay tuned…

     
  • raul_monsalve 2:38 pm on December 7, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , chile, , ,   

    Southern Hemisphere Again! 

    Hey gals and guys!! My name is Raul Monsalve, Chilean, and this is my first post on the ASU Explorers blog. Just like the other contributors, I will show you some of the exciting things we do at ASU as part of the cutting-edge research endeavors.

    I am currently a Postdoctoral Scholar; my undergrad degree is in electronics engineering and my PhD is in Physics, where I worked on a CMB polarization experiment called QUIET. With that background, it is obvious that I like instrumentation for radioastronomy and that is why I am enjoying a lot working at ASU in the exciting field of Low-Fewquency Cosmology.

    As you know by now (especially with all the experiences shared by José in previous posts), astronomy is a discipline conducted at an international level for several reasons, and therefore if you want to join this field you will become a world citizen sooner or later.

    As an example, last week I traveled to Chile to a conference on astronomical instrumentation organized and hosted by the Chilean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and several universities. Being one of the most developed countries in South America, Chile hosts an important amount of world-class telescopes because of its clear skies in several frequency ranges. Among others, telescopes such as ALMA, E-ELT, GMT, VLT, CTIO, CCAT, QUIET, CBI, APEX, ASTE, NANTEN, ACT, POLARBEAR, TAO, CLASS, have chosen Chile to observe from. Astronomy is indeed becoming the focus of Chilean support in the R&D department.

    Some of the ALMA antennas at an elevation of 16,500 feet in the Chilean Atacama desert.

    VLT optical and infrared telescope at an elevation of 8,645 feet in the Chilean Atacama desert.

    During this trip I did not visit any telescope because all my time was devoted to the conference. It was the first meeting of its kind in the country, and had the purpose of introducing the efforts of teams from several universities working on instrumentation. Government representatives also attended in order to present the different financial instruments available for astronomy research. They stressed the fact that support has been increasing year by year, and encouraged (young) people to make use of it. Many Chilean astronomers, engineers and students attended, as well as internationally renowned scientists. This gave everybody the opportunity to network and broaden their perspective.

    I gave a talk the third day of the conference about what we do best: Low-Frequency Cosmology. It served as an introduction to the topic to Chilean scientists, and also proposed the idea of the participation of Chilean institutions in this kind of studies, possibly in collaboration with ASU. From people’s reaction, I can say that the talk and the idea were very well received, and that people from important institutions are very interested in participating. In that sense, the trip was a total success!!.

    My talk on low-frequency cosmology at the Chilean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with part of the audience.

    Round of questions after the talk.

    Chilean government palace, “La Moneda”, in Santiago. The view is from the top of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs building, where the conference was held.

     
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