This barn owl apparently lives in the rafters of one of the capacious hangers at the airport here.
So I guess it's been about a week since my last post, and I have to say, I'd almost forgotten just how awesome the desert smells when it rains. But I found out, since as it happens, the two best ways to make it rain in a desert are to go camping in a leaky tent or to try and test a star camera. I knew about the first one from extensive first-hand experience, but the second one came as news, as the star camera gang had barely cracked the highbay doors to point the camera outside when the skies clouded over. Then it proceeded to drizzle and hail for half a week. The rest of the time, it has looked a bit like the photo below, clear but dusty.
Overall, I'd say we're making good progress in putting the experiment together. We now have a gondola -- the structure that hangs below the balloon, visible in the lab panorama from a couple of posts back -- able to hang from our gantry crane and point itself where you tell it. Although there are glitches, of course. The magnetometers (i.e. glorified compasses) in particular caused some difficulty, until we discovered that the highbay floor seems to be magnetic. Cute!
Cholla seems to be the dominant cactus variety out on the airfield and the surrounding ranchland.
I'm not really going to go into a full narrative of our experimental progress here, though -- for that sort of coverage, you should really be reading Asad's wonderfully detailed blog.
While photography is also a major feature of his effort, we definitely have different photographic styles.
Our major excursion into ranchland so far has been to see the wind farm up close. Up close, the turbines are even more colossal than you'd think from seeing them on the horizon ten miles away. And I cannot get over that sound.