Palestine, TX, Days 8-13

Checking in again from Palestine, where AESOP-Lite’s integration continues to go smoothly. Paul arrived early last week, completing our science team and bringing wisdom from his many years in the field. He was only here for a short time, but it was a very eventful time for AESOP-Lite. We tested components of the instrument in the BEMCO chamber, which is (in simplified terms) a large box in which we can control the pressure and temperature. While Pierre-Simon and I discussed the BEMCO’s ability to cook a chicken whole, our team simulated possible flight conditions such as high/low temperatures and near-zero pressure to see if the instrument could function under these conditions. While the results are currently undergoing analysis, the first impression of the data is that the tests were successful.


Our completed science team


This week we also began working on the time-of-flight calibration. This involves testing and correcting for variations in the instrument’s measurement of the flight time of a particle passing through. These variations come from a number of factors, including the particle’s momentum and path length. Calibration our time-of-flight will allow for more accurate classification of the particles detected by AESOP-Lite.

Over the past couple of days, our team took advantage of the long weekend provided by the Fourth of July. Some of our team took the opportunity to travel and see friends and family for the holiday. Brian and I attended a fireworks display at local park

here in Palestine. This town is growing on me more and more, and I think I will find it difficult to depart next week. In the meantime, the work continues and so will this blog. Check in later this week for another update.


Fireworks over Palestine

-Scott Martin

Palestine, TX, Days 4-7

Hey everybody, just checking in from Palestine with a quick update from the past few days. The integration of your favorite cosmic ray detecting instrument is going quite smoothly. The shell passed the pressure-leak test with flying colors. The detectors are working with the DC-DC converter that will be used during the flight. Calibration of the pulse height amplitude is complete for one board. We’ve been running the instrument every night to collect more data for our analysis. This data has been used to better understand the detectors in the instrument, as well as to verify that the internal measurements are consistent with direct measurements, amongst other things.



Sunset over the launch pad

Outside of the hanger, we’ve been keeping our sanity intact by exploring Palestine’s vast nightlife. This past

Saturday, a local bar hosted an outdoor screening of a nature


A beacon of hope

documentary about the wildlife of Texas. Pierre-Simon was particularly interested in learning about ocelots, while I myself couldn’t get enough of the bats. We are eagerly awaiting the arrival of Paul, who will complete our team upon his arrival tonight.

Stayed tuned for more updates on AESOP-Lite, as well as my amateur attempts at bat-watching.

Scott Martin

Palestine, Texas Days 1-3

Pierre-Simon and I landed in Dallas around 9:30, eager to get started on the integration. After a two hour drive to Palestine, we were ready to work. But first: lunch. Realizing that I’ve never been closer to Louisiana, I had a delightful bowl of shrimp gumbo (let’s see how quickly this devolves into a food blog). We arrived at CSBF (Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility) around 2:45, watched the mandatory safety video, then proceeded to the hangar to meet up with James and Brian, who had been hard at work for the past couple of days. We helped set up our workspace in the hanger before jumping right into the integration of AESOP-Lite.

The next two days in the hangar can be described in one word: busy. Everyone has been hard at work on a number of different tasks, so much so that it would be futile to attempt to record everything. Here are some highlights:


Beautiful view from CSBF

  • Our fearless leader John arrived on Tuesday night (6/21) after a series of airline mishaps, excited to begin another successful integration.
  • We began to test the instrument, leaving it running overnight from Tuesday to Wednesday. This data was useful in analyzing the performance of each detector and the consistency in the different methods of data collection, amongst other things.


    Downtown Palestine


  • Robert arrived in Palestine on Thursday morning (6/23) ready to hit the ground running. Our team is now almost complete, and we’re already kicking things into high gear.
  • We have been testing the shell that will house our instrument to determine if any pressure is leaking out.

This is just a fraction of the work that’s been going on here in Palestine. Look forward to hearing more about this in the following weeks. As of now, morale is high, the temperature is even higher, and AESOP-Lite is well on its way to a successful launch.

-Scott Martin