Saturday, January 30, 2010

VAPoR field testing - Day 2

Around 12 o'clock (midnight) the alarm in my room went off, which nearly got me a heart attack, especially since I was sure I had checked it was off.

The second attempt at 6 AM was more successful and after quick breakfast it was time to get going.

Becky and Danny hiking to the test site.

Some, probably native, plant.

Another, probably native, plant.

Very NON-native plant, to be removed by field participants when bored.

By 7.20 we had arrived on site and immediately started putting VAPoR together, nearly missing the morning briefing.

VAPoR field unit

Things went very smoothly, so by 9.10 AM everything was unpacked, the field unit was up and running and we decided to get some samples, while the system was pumping down. We started off by just sampling the grey and the yellowish soil across from the site, to test if we would find any differences in these samples.

Sample 1.

Sample 2.

Danny taking the second sample

When we got back to tent it was time to start our first run - a background analysis of an empty sample cell. That didn't turn out very well, since the oven wasn't drawing any current. Some fiddling around with a voltmeter learned us that there was a short or a broken wire somewhere in the oven. Result: even before the first analysis we're down to one oven. Let's keep our fingers crossed for the rest of the test (we're not starting cola and chicken offerings, yet).

The deceased oven ... ;(

What to do when you encounter a disappoint event.. Lunch!

The excellent chef.

Kris and our yummy lunch

After putting the second oven, which we tested before on shorting, in place, we started our second attempt. In the mean time I got the opportunity to collect a solar-illumination-sintered soil sample. The big sintering setup collect sun light and converts it through light fibers into a small spot that can reach about 900 °C and can sinter the soils, such that it forms a hard (asphalt-like) layer. I took a sample of sintered and un-sintered material to analyze how much of the volatiles are still left after sintering (probably very little, since it was heated to 900 °C).

The third set of samples was obtained in collaboration with Kris Zacny from Honeybee Robotics, who is (amongst 15 different things) testing a 5-meter long drill. We got samples from different depths, which will be analyzed by VAPoR, as well as by the Mössbauer spectrometer and the Multispectral Microscopic Imager. This collaboration will give a comprehensive data set of the volatiles, elemental and chemical composition of the soil at different depths.

1-meter deep sampling.

4 meter deep sampling.

Summary of the day, 1 blank analyzed, 1 sample analyzed, quite successful considering the start. Eating, breathing, and sneezing dust. No sun burn yet, not altitude sickness. All very well :)

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