Thursday, December 22, 2016
Let it Snow!
The semester is over, grades submitted, conferences attended and talks given. WyCEHG students are scattered across the globe, yet data must be collected. My role on the project relates to communicating the science, organizing and delivering outreach, rarely does it include adventures in the snow. Today, however, was a day to play.
Programs at the No Name site needed to be updated, one instrument was not communicating data to another, and it was snowing. The snow was encouragement enough for me that when the invite came to participate, I eagerly accepted my job – umbrella holder. Up the trail I tromped behind my colleague ET, golf umbrella in hand and a pair of snowshoes on my feet. Wind-swirled flakes cut across our path as we ascended from the Green Rock parking lot.
Upon arrival at the station, we quickly stomped down the snow surrounding a near-by fallen tree to set up the computer and various additional pieces of equipment. It was a bit like I imagine the Hubble engineers to have done on their missions to fix their scope – heading off to territories unknown to fix instruments and allow a better eye on places unseen. My job was to quickly gather snow-depth from specific points around the station, all of which showed 70-80 cm of coverage and then protect the computer from precipitation.
ET opened the laptop and connected it to the station. The screen displayed a circling blue ball and read “Performing Updates, Do Not Turn Off.” We looked at one another and considered our options, restart and revert, go snowshoe around a bit, shout, or wait. We chose to wait. Unfortunately technology was more patient than we were, and never did finish updating.
One of the takeaways from my day, aside from snow angles and trekking around a beautiful place with a wonderful individual is that, this is the nature of science and technology. Sometimes experimentation and data collection works in our favor. But other times it challenges us to go play and come back another day. We will return, computer updated and umbrella at the ready. Until then, let it snow… let it snow… let it snow!!