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Climactic Success

Everyone here is breathing a huge sigh of relief. Last night was the first night that our new set of detectors were cold enough to be operated. Unlike the last few test runs, for this run we had mounted the receiver up in the telescope where it normally lives, in preparation for doing real observing. As soon as the detectors were tuned, we pointed the telescope at an object in the sky called RCW38, which is a bright source of radiation at the frequencies we observe.

rec1.jpgOne layer of the new receiver. The small, single millimeter-wide circles at the top are our ultra-sensitive detectors.

We made a beautiful map of RCW38 and began learning about the properties of our new detector array, which looks fantastic. We still have a lot to learn before we leave, but last night was the big test, and possibly the most exciting moment of the whole season. We celebrated our success by sipping champagne out of paper cups while we looked at our very first data from the upgraded instrument. The enormous efforts that went into the upgrades this year look like they’re going to pay off!

The complete rebuilt receiver.
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