At roughly -10°F (windchill somewhere below -30) I look up the Mississippi River at sunset: past the river ice and the bones of the new I-35 bridge; past the dam and the power plant; towards downtown Minneapolis and the Saint Anthony Falls.
I had to stitch three pictures to get this shot, which also let me fake the apparently high dynamic range here: I took the sky from a 1/800 second exposure, but the buildings and ground come from 1/160 second shots. Click to super-size.
It's generally likely that last weekend's cold snap was our last dose of seriously Arctic air, and we won't see the negative double-digits until next winter. But they said that three weeks ago, too. They also keep predicting snow that fails to materialize. The river is still too warm to maintain it's ice.
Anyway, it's official -- my experiment's test flight has been pushed back to the fall. NASA (technically, the CSBF) is still trying to qualify their largest balloon for the weight class we were planning to use. Evidently fully inflating a 37-million-cubic-foot helium balloon poses some engineering challenges. (Here's what it looks like for our (smaller) sister experiment, BLAST.) So CSBF will do another qualifying flight in the spring, and with any luck we'll be first in line to use it when the winds turn back around in September or so.
In fact, this is a pretty handy delay. Not just because it was going to be a real scramble to get the payload ready to launch by May. I mean handy for perfectly selfish reasons: I probably won't have to miss the ScavHunt, and won't be flying in from the field for my sister's wedding.