Preparing for Heavy Turbulence
by Jason Hill
Thursday, March 12, 1998
Today turned out to be pretty busy. We start an experiment next Monday, so I have some extra tasks on top of my normal duties. The three of us on the morning shift arrive at 4:30 a.m. and started the daily check-out routine. That involves loading the software for the two simulators, visually checking on the hydraulic pumps and major components, then making a short flight designed to verify everything works normally.
During the test flight, my shift lead wanted to do an extra test on the motion system, because the experiment requires heavy turbulence. We turned it up as high as the system would handle, until everything was so bumpy it was even hard to press the buttons!
After the daily checks and our turbulence test, I started adjusting the visual system. (This is basically a system of three big-screen TV projectors that share a wide, curving screen. The screen forms a complete half-circle, so that the view out the window looks seamless.) The three projectors have three color tubes each; red, green and blue. When the three colors are mixed together in the proper amounts, the result is a complete spectrum of available colors. My job was to adjust all nine tubes so that the colors are balanced and a white cloud actually looks white. If there is too much green, it looks slightly greenish. Not enough green makes it look slightly pink or violet.
When I was finished with all that, it was almost 8:30. Lunch time! My day starts so early, I'm eating lunch when most people are still on their way to work!
After lunch the software programmers and experimenters were working on their part of the experiment preparations, so I started assembling a group of simple boxes we need for a future experiment. I was cutting holes, stripping and soldering wires, and attaching parts for most of the rest of the day. Before I left, though, I helped install a few cables so that the experiment operator could record extra data on a second videotape.