I went climbing (well, bouldering) yesterday for the first time in a depressingly long time and my forearms were not prepared. If anyone wants to come help me open this jar of pasta sauce I’d appreciate it.

In other news, we’re coming up on a big milestone for the Rubin Observatory project, or at least for the part of the project that I’m working on, so I figured I’d chat about it a little bit.

First, some terminology. The observatory is the building itself (white), and it has a rotating dome (also white) as part of the building. When observing (i.e. taking photos of the sky), the dome gets opened at night via some sliding doors (along the teal rail). There is a telescope (teal) inside the rotating dome that also rotates, and onto the telescope is installed the camera (represented by the yellow dummy mass in the photo below).

The main camera for this telescope is the LSST Camera, which is still being assembled at SLAC National Lab in California and won’t be ready for another year(ish). In the meantime, we are planning to install a mini version of the camera onto the telescope for some early testing. This mini camera is known as the Commissioning Camera, or ComCam, and it’s a small detector with only nine sensors versus LSSTCam’s 189, surrounded by some (black) metal to make it the same shape and mass as the real camera, with all the control electronics in the back just like the real camera. ComCam is now super close to being ready for installation and I’m stoked. Especially since we finally found and fixed a pesky vacuum leak that we’ve been chasing for weeks. Turns out the vacuum gauge itself was the culprit. Argh.

There are two steps to telescope installation. First, the camera (or ComCam) goes onto a structure (teal structure on a yellow cart) in the maintenance area of the observatory, and then that entire structure gets installed onto the top end of the telescope (third photo) in place of the dummy mass. Theoretically we’ll do that first part, installing ComCam onto the structure, in a couple of weeks, which is a huge and exciting milestone but also means it’ll be really hard to access the utilities if anything breaks. Fingers crossed.

We won’t install ComCam onto the telescope itself (i.e. up in the dome) for several months because we need to do a bunch of testing on the cart first. If things do break they’re even less accessible on the telescope so we want to find that out sooner rather than later.

So that’s what’s going on in observatory-land. And I’m still squeaking in under the deadline for this one-post-a-month thing, so that’s fun too. Happy Monday y’all.