Tophat logo

Reports from the Field - Latest Updates

TopHat in Antarctica
(February Reports)(January 2001 Reports)(December 2000 Reports)(A TopHat Christmas)(November 2000 Reports)(Antarctica Images)

August 7, 2001

Maybe there is hope...

In Alex's last report from February 1. 2001, he mentioned that it lookd as though the top package had a very soft landing, but that he thought it would be hard to narrow down the location to something less than 15 square miles. The NSBF folks have been forwarded the following information which narrows the area down considerably:

The Tophat bottom payload impact position is: 85 deg 05.663 minutes S, 164 deg 52.156 minutes W.

The best estimate of balloon impact (and telescope) is: 85 deg 08 min 54 seconds S, 164 deg 26 minutes 31 seconds W. The descent vector was pretty short (326 deg true @ 5.6-6.1 miles).

This means that if one constructs a box 3 nautical miles square using the estimated balloon impact position as the center of the box, one could be fairly confident that the balloon and top payload would be somewhere within those boundaries.

April 1, 2001

It has been a while since we wrote a status report, so here is one to official close out the TopHat Antarctic campaign of 2000-2001, and to let you know what we are working on.

Firstly, the team spent a little time resting up after everything was closed out at McMurdo.  Alex, Jeff, Tom, and James stayed until the bitter end to get things tidied up, and departed the "terrible place" in early February.  This is not before the data were safely transferred to computers back at home.  Many on the team took a few extra days getting home, for some well-deserved R&R.

We have looked at that data enough to know that the equipment was all working as planned during the entire flight.  Our one main concern is the effects of the 5 degree top plate tilt, and this will be the subject of quite a bit of work.  We've been able to construct preliminary maps that show the expected features in the sky for all five channels, so this is very good news.  Now we need to convince ourselves that this data is good enough for the measurements they were intended to make - measurements of the Cosmic Microwave Background radiation anisotropy at the 1 part in 100,000 level.  We're very optimistic, but only time will tell.  We had a collaboration meeting in mid-February to discuss these topics, and to formulate a plan for the work ahead.

Meanwhile, we are suffering from some very serious funding shortages.  Due to a variety of reasons that are never straightforward, we only received enough funding to cover the Antarctic campaign.  Upon our return, many on the team are working "as time is available" to do the analysis (meaning nights and weekends).  Thus, we are not sure when the work can be completed.  This is a great shame, but is the result of the level of importance that NASA places on "small" science during the current period of fiscal constraints.  At a minimum, we expect that the analysis will take 6 to 8 months of continuous effort, assuming we can support the salaries, and probably much longer given the funding situation.

Meanwhile, we will all be working hard writing a proposal (due in June) to complete this work and perhaps to start some new initiatives.

We'll post updates on this site as results become available.