Thursday, February 4, 2010

VAPoR field testing - Day 7

Today is our last day of testing VAPoR and analyzing samples, so we made ourselves quite a vigorous program. Which of course started off with the daily hike to the field site and the daily morning picture of the clouds below us.

Everything was still up and running when we got to the site and the PISCES people had already filled up our generator, so we could get started right away. On today's list: (1) a 4-meter deep sample from he same bore hole as the two samples analyzes yesterday, (2) a sample of the sintered surface material, (3) a control of the unsintered surface material next to it, and (4) a high temperature (1200 °C) test of the oven without sample that functions both as blank and as oven test.

The sintered sample came in chunks too big for our sample holder, so Danny ground it up a little (and this way justified the shipping of at least one of the tow pestles and mortars we brought along).

We are collecting a bunch of data: of course the mass spectra of the evolved gases (that's what the whole instrument is about: Volatile Analysis by Pyrolysis of Regolith),

and the temperature data of the ramping profile.

But also every 100 °C the voltage and current drawn by the oven and the internal pressure in the system.

We got a few nice results, (e.g. sintering of soil up to 900 °C does indeed remove all the volatiles - proving obvious hypotheses can be very satisfying), and more analysis is (as usual) underway (I'm spending too much time to keep you guys up to date).

The plants in the portapotty after 3 days, they still smell great though!

Also today was media day, so we had at least 30% more people running around on site taking pictures and interviewing people (not us though). Quite funny to watch them watching us.

After a successful day we shot down the system and cleaned and temporarily packed most of it. Tomorrow we're packing up and leaving the site again. Back to real life.

The daily evening hike back with Jorge, Jack and Glenn, resulted in some more cloud pics and two very pretty dead trees. Now some more data analysis and then off to bed.

Jorge and Jack taking a picture of Glenn in front of Mauna Kea.

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