Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Desert RATS - Day 2/3 - first sample!

The second day started good, pump turned on, no strange overheating anymore, pressure (eventually) down to workable values (10^-6 mbar), so to make sure VAPoR stays happy we decorated it again with some lucky charms. This year the theme is Dutch wooden shoes.

Another close up of the SMS, wrapped up in foil to prevent dust from creeping in. It is not as dusty as it was in Hawaii, but still we have small dust devils outside as well as inside our tent.

The wooden shoes seem to work. Tuesday no problems with the pump anymore and we ran our first blank, which looked fine. Today, Wednesday we ran our first real sample. Looks fine too. And an interesting result right away. We got a large amount of CO2 evolving while we assumed the sample was only basalt. Our science team member in Houston, Heather Franz confirmed that the sample contained not only basalt but small vesicles filled with carbonate. Great! It's always a good start to confirm an observation.

Another interesting point of running VAPoR in the heat though (it is about 100F/38°C during the day: it takes nearly 6 hours to cool down the oven instead of the usual 1 in the lab. So far we'll only get 1sample a day, but we will have to come up with something there. (The main supply of ice for the camp is right next to use, but not too sure if the electronics will appreciate and ice bath...).

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