Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Norway blog: part 2

The course began on Monday with a presentation about the facility and the program, then a tour of the facility. During the tour, I learned that there was a record time up to the Col on the mountain that I had climbed yesterday. I knew that I would have to see how fast I could climb!

After lunch, we got an introduction to rockets from a grad student who does model rockets as a hobby (hobby rockets are quite rare in Norway). Learning about the stability (the position of the centroid in relation to the center of pressure) of a rocket was useful. Then we had a lab where we made some paper rockets that would be launched using an air compressor. The key was a good fit on the tube, and good ballast in the nose to increase stability.

After launching the paper rockets, we headed into the town of Andenes for dinner at an Italian restaurant.

In the evening, the UofS students "broke the ice" by sharing the Crown Royal they brought from home.

On Tuesday, we had to make the tough decision of which group to be in: Group A: Rocket, Group B: Experiments, Group C: Payload, or Group D: Telemetry. I ended up with group D. We started off with an overview of the process, and soon started to input the correct settings for the equipment. We also used a satellite tracking software to predict when certain satellites would pass over the range, so that we could track them the next day. Originally, there was a trip planned to the ALOMAR observatory on the top of the mountain, but that was postponed until Friday as the steep road up the mountain was icy. The lectures in the evening were on various atmospheric research topics and their applications at ALOMAR, which were interesting new subjects for me.

The rocket group would assist with various demos during the week, as well as use some software to predict the trajectory of the rocket. The experiments group and payload group would build the sensors for the rocket, make sure that the payload is balanced, and analyze the data once it is extracted.

In the evening, we walked into town, only to discover that they stopped selling beer after 6pm.

Wednesday, we had a presentation on range safety before diving into more group work. The setup of the equipment for the launch was completed before lunch.

There had been talk about going swimming in the frigid ocean earlier in the week, but nothing had materialized. I wanted to go swimming, so I went out after eating lunch. I brought along some warm layers with me to the beach so that I would warm up quickly after swimming. The sand was fine and white, and the beach was quite shallow, so I could go out a bit and only be waist deep. I was waiting for the right moment to submerge my head, when I noticed that the waves could be body-surfed. So I did that a couple of times, then got out and started to change, when I saw two of the Norwegian girls (Live and Emilie) from the camp. They were quite impressed, I was a little embarrassed (I was actually just about to drop the drawers because I wasn't expecting anyone to see me on the beach. Good thing I didn't as there was shrinkage!). I decided to go back in, because I wanted them to take a picture of me swimming. After getting out, I dried off with my wet towel and slipped into my warm clothes.

I didn't have much time for a warm shower, so I put on lots of warm layers, but it took me about 1.5hrs to stop shivering. Word slowly spread around the camp.

We tracked a NOAA satellite during the last part of the lunch break, and we got a pretty cool picture after processing the signal!

The hybrid motor and model rocket demonstration from group A was pretty exciting. The motor used N2O gas as well as plexiglass as fuel.

We went out late in the night to watch the aurora. It started off slowly, then dazzled us with shimmering green light.

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