AMASE 2007: First days- Testing in Longyearbyen
It's Friday night and everything was working great until ten minutes ago.
Most of the AMASE team has been here since Wednesday and we have taken over
the conference room at the Longyearbyen Radisson again to set up our
equipment and check that everything is working. Most of Thursday was spent
unpacking and setting up. This morning we had safety training and gun range
practice. This evening we successfully turned on and tuned our field
instrument. A short time later we noticed we were leaking helium at a high
rate and began tracing down the leak. After several hours of testing
various components we thought we had tracked down the source of the leak
when suddenly a tube welded onto the side of our GC inlet snapped off!
Oliver and I looked at one another in disbelief. Months of preparing,
bringing a seemingly endless array of spare parts, and now a weld- one of
the few pieces not easily fixed has broken. The broken weld lies at the
interface of the GC inlet and a tiny 1/16th tube that acts as a vent line
leading to the back of the GC. This tube is not extremely important- we can
run the GCMS without it, but it is currently causing a huge leak and
potentially introducing contaminants into our system. Thus, unless we can at
least plug the hole, we will quickly drain our helium and not be able to run
our instrument any longer.
Phew- with help from the rover team and several calls back to the States, we
now have a temporary hole plug in the works and a new spare part on the way
from the States. I managed to get a hold of our instrument manufacturer at
5:30 on Friday evening, they were able to find an old replacement part lying
on a shelf and agreed to overnight it to Marilyn Fogel who won't be joining
AMASE for another few days. The rover team believes they have a wire they
can use to plug the hole so we can at least try running our instrument. What
a night. I'm exhausted. Time for the 30 minutes hike up the hill to sleep at
the Spitsbergen Guesthouse.
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center