11 April 2008

Will the Computer Work?

Sunday, 06 April 2008
Cave Detection in the Thermal Infrared
NASA Spaceward Bound!

Image: QWIP Thermal Imaging Camera

Murzy arrived in Barstow on Sunday morning and then we caravanned back out to Pis-gah. Our plans for the day were to set up the camera, and find one more cave with an entrance that was facing towards the cinder cone (which was the location of the camera). Once we hauled all the equipment up the cinder cone, Murzy and Glen set up the camera, and Matt and I hiked out onto the lava flow to find the a cave facing toward the cinder cone (i.e., the camera).

Our objective was to set up the QWIP thermal imaging camera atop the cinder cone to collect thermal images over a 24 hour period. While this may seem like a rather straight forward and simply exercise, it was not free of hurdles. Our concerns for running the experiment were (a) the gas-powered generator may run out of gas during the sampling period and interrupt data collection and (b) the QWIP camera would fail (it has yet to be operable for 24 hours straight). One minor oversight, we did expect any problems from our ruggedized Dell computer.

Before we could do this, we wanted to set up the camera and the computer to make sure everything worked. Image: Matt Allner.

Well, the winds blew hard all day. However, the team was successful. The sampling station atop the crater was set up, and Matt and I were more or less successful in selecting a cave. While we did not find a cave entrance that faced directly towards the camera, we did find one that was somewhat facing towards the cinder cone.

Image: Mapping locations of data loggers placed within cave. Credit: Matt Allner.

Matt and I were in radio contact with the camera team all day. We had to do this to make sure our cave and the non-cave feature were both within the frame of the camera. Once we were able to do this, Matt and I headed for the cinder cone. Thereafter, we began to test the camera. All our equipment was operational. So, we set the computer and camera to collect thermal images every 10 minutes over a 24 hour period.

Once the day was done, Matt’s work was also. He had to leave for Zyzxx Field Station to meet the Spaceward Bound folks. Matt was flying back to Colorado early Monday AM.

Image: Glen, Murzy and Glen's tent atop Pis-gah Crater.

When setting up the camera, Glen offered to use his tent as a wind break and as a good place to keep the computer. So, it looked like at least one of us was going to camp atop the cinder cone. Murzy accidentally returned to Barstow for the night, and I later realized he had my tent in his car. So, I was going to sleep in the truck again.