Saturday May 23rd 2009. Day 9.


This was a quite quiet, although very successful day for Herschel. Yesterday we should have carried out automated observations for the first time, but these were delayed to today. To carry out the day’s observations, a small matter of 22 000 observations have to be transmitted to the satellite. Checks are carried out before transmission to ensure that the commands were consistent and it was found that, instead of 22 000, there were 22 001: this can happen if there is an error, or a small bug in the programming. The experts at Mission Control check the file and find out which is the extra command that should not be there and remove it; they also investigate why the inconsistency happened and fix the problem. On this occasion it was decided that there was too little time to do these checks as thoroughly as was desirable. As today was planned to be a day without major activities it was decided simply just to swap the two days. This was carried out and things have gone fine: both days were uplinked correctly and have been executed without problems. Another tick on the check-out boxes.


Tomorrow is still our biggest day so far with the two remaining instruments being switched-on and checked-out. These instruments are more delicate than SPIRE, which was switched-on first. If they have survived launch and are working fine we will be in an excellent state. Things may go wrong later, but we will have got over all the most difficult and delicate stages of the check-out.


If only things had gone so well in the golf… When we left for the drive to the course the rain was tipping down after a very intense storm last night too. Gradually the weather improved, but was still very threatening and the course was absolutely saturated with water. I barely had time to try to hit a few practice balls (miss-hitting every single one). For me, things went downhill from there. I did not hit a decent shot all day and ended up last but one of the field of 36. What was worse, I was playing with the person who led the tournament by some distance at the end of the day. It was embarrassing. It was humiliating. The tournament is proving to be a great success; the atmosphere is excellent and everyone, bar me, seems to be having fun.


Our retired banker (one of the marshals) and I got home around 7pm, utterly exhausted, to which I could add a king-sized case of depression. And tomorrow back again early for more…



Unofficial Herschel image of the day archive:


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