Campaign Blog

Launch Opportunity #3

By krawcz on December 29, 2018 in Uncategorized / No Comments

The weather today looks great today, and we are hopeful that X-Calibur will be launched today. The payload has just been moved out of the hangar. The X-ray pulsar GX 301-2 will be one of the first targets to be observed. The pulsar is in a 41.5 day orbit with WRAY 997, a massive and […]

Launch Preparations

By krawcz on December 28, 2018 in 2018 McMurdo Campaign / No Comments

We hope to launch X-Calibur today. You can follow the launch preparations via this web site or this live stream. We hope the winds at the ground and in a few hundred feet altitude will quieten down so that the balloon can be inflated and the experiment can be launched safely. The photo (from yest...

Waiting for Launch

By krawcz on December 23, 2018 in 2018 McMurdo Campaign / No Comments

We are currently waiting for the next launch opportunity on 12/27 New Zealand time (12/26 UTC). In the meantime, we are exercising the X-Calibur systems and checking the activity level of bright X-ray sources. The Neil Gehrels Swift observatory is a great resource for this, as the satellite carri...

Flight Readiness Review

By Fabian Kislat on December 16, 2018 in 2018 McMurdo Campaign / No Comments

On Saturday, we met with the CSBF crew for the formal flight readiness review of X-Calibur. During the review, the CSBF campaign manager goes through a checklist to ensure that the payload is ready to be launched. This includes availability of various pieces of documentation and certification, bu...

Ready for Launch

By krawcz on December 12, 2018 in 2018 McMurdo Campaign / 2 Comments

X-Calibur is ready for launch as of today! We successfully passed the “compatibility test” in which the experiment is fully configured for launch, and put on the “boss” – a giant launch vehicle. The boss will hold the experiment while the balloon inflates with helium...

Installing and aligning the X-ray mirror

By Fabian Kislat on December 1, 2018 in 2018 McMurdo Campaign / 2 Comments

On Thursday we installed the InFOCuS X-ray mirror in the X-Calibur telescope. The mirror with a focal length of 8m focuses X-rays onto the detector by deflecting them at a very small angle off 255 nested conical aluminum shells. Each shell has about 200 alternating thin layers of platinum and car...

Assembling the Telescope

By Fabian Kislat on November 27, 2018 in 2018 McMurdo Campaign / 2 Comments

We have now been here in Antarctica for about a week, and it is time to give you an update on our X-Calibur activities. Last week, we checked out the detector. We verified that it is still working after it spent the last four months in a shipping container. All readout ASICs are still working [&h...

The pressure ridges

By Fabian Kislat on November 24, 2018 in 2018 McMurdo Campaign / No Comments

Recreation staff and volunteers in McMurdo offer several guided tours around the station into areas that are usually not accessible. On Friday, Henric Krawczynski, Hiromitsu Takahashi, Takashi Okajima, and I participated in a tour of the pressure ridges near Scott Base, the station of Antarctica ...

On board the C-17

Traveling to Antarctica, Part 2

By Fabian Kislat on November 24, 2018 in 2018 McMurdo Campaign / 3 Comments

In our last post, I wrote about the first part of our journey to Antarctica, which took us to New Zealand. Now we have arrived and I am finally catching up with blogging. On Monday, Henric Krawczynski, Hiromitsu Takahashi, and I, as well as the WASP crew from Wallops Flight Facility, flew from Ch...

ECW clothing display

Traveling to Antarctica

By Fabian Kislat on November 18, 2018 in 2018 McMurdo Campaign / 1 Comment

We are finally on our way to Antarctica. Bad weather in McMurdo delayed the opening of the Long Duration Balloon facility and we were forced to stay home and wait. Henric and I arrived in Christchurch, New Zealand, yesterday after a 24-hour journey. We left the US on Thursday and arrived on Satur...

Compatibility Test

By rgbose on July 24, 2018 in 2018 McMurdo Campaign / No Comments

The integration of the payload culminated today when the telescope was brought outside at 6am for the final compatibility test. We verified that the power system worked and that all the command and data links between the science payload, the Support Instrumentation Package, the antennae, the sate...

Tests of the LED Ring

By rgbose on July 18, 2018 in 2018 McMurdo Campaign / No Comments

X-Calibur has pairs of LEDs arranged in a ring with one missing to aide alignment of the mirror with the polarimeter and to monitor the 8m long telescope truss for deformations.

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