From Paul Newman, mission co-project scientist:
There is an old Latin quote: “Maxima omnium virtutum est patientia.” Or
“patience is the greatest virtue.” When it comes to mounting science instruments on an aircraft, you need to continually return to that quote.
We have 10 science instruments that we will be flying on the Global Hawk (GH). The instrument integration began as far back as 2007, with discussions between the GH operations team and the scientists.
The engineers and technicians first needed to know everything about the instruments: dimensions, weights, power usage, inlets or port location, etc. Slots for instruments were chosen, and detailed drawings of the Global Hawk and instruments were swapped between engineers and scientists. After a lot of work on technical drawings, the Dryden team began to fabricate the pallets, plates, and brackets needed to attach the instruments to the plane.
When we got here last week, each instrument was placed on a bench for an electrical test and a communications test (more about this later this week). In the 1st panel of the picture below you can see David Thomson of Droplet Measurement Technologies with the Ultra-High Sensitivity Aerosol Spectrometer (the electronics jumble in front of the computer monitor). UHSAS measures very small aerosol particles — so small that a million lined up end-to-end would only be several inches long.
In the 2nd photo, you see a mounting frame sitting on a big table-like plate. UHSAS will mount on top of this “long table” which is fixed onto the plate. After attaching UHSAS and a few other instruments, this plate will be flipped over and attached to the underside of the plane (panel 3). Then we need to run cables to connect UHSAS to the GH’s computers and power.
All of the engineering, machining, electrical work, cable running, and testing takes time. Obviously we want the best science observations, but safety comes first. We’re making progress on integrating our science instruments into the plan, but…see the first sentence of today’s post.