Hello again, as I write this we are safely back in Marrakech after a (spoiler alert) 100% successful installation at KTO! Over the past couple of days we have been in the middle of sand/wind storms at the hotel that effectively knocked out our internet. We could send SMS and complete low bandwidth tasks, but posting here, completing other work, etc. was out of the question. It is always eye opening to me how used to be plugged into the matrix I am!
So let’s see, I left you all after our first full day at KTO. On our second day we continued to work in the shed by wiring up all of the telescopes, installing the roof automation and cleaning out all of the sand and dust in the shed. It is remarkable how much was in there, considering we are on the roof of the building! This is the amount of dust that accumulated on the telescope and we had a dew shield to mitigate it as well!
We were able to wire up all of the telescopes on this second day, but were unable to complete the computers so we were not able to run on the second night. However, we did gain an observatory cat. The host’s cat came and started hanging out with us. Here is her looking ready to pounce on something below:
The third day is when a lot of moving and shaking happened, Max finished the automation install and we tested it officially completing the full automation in the network! (I forget if I have mentioned it, but KTO was the last remaining site to get full automation. Since we had not been back in about 18 months the hardware was out-of-date to receive the full automation upgrades. So this is a HUGE accomplishment for EGTN and Max. Bravo!) Computer setup was finished and we began to pack away our mess. This took us to the evening of day 11 and we were able to focus and get limits on all scopes in the shed! This equated to first light on the new sensors on 2017 March 25 and all of the work/goals for the trip being completed.
This left our last full day at KTO which allowed us to tie up all of the loose ends before heading back to Marrakech. We installed backup hard drives, cleaned up any loose cords, completed final tests and then the wind really came in. About half of this day was either spent locked in our observatory or inside the hotel because the winds were so strong. Those days when I have been at the beach and thought it was windy with sand blowing everywhere were just trumped with what we went through the last couple days! Thankfully the wind died down around 23:30 that night so we were able to check focus and the status of all the sensors before we left the next day. Everything checked out fine and data is already being delivered to customers from the new sensors!
So this leaves yesterday, Max and I said our goodbyes at the hotel, walked the host through the new setup to assist when an issue arises and then hit the road back to Marrakech. We made pretty good time arriving after about 8 hours, and we stopped for lunch. The drive was incredibly gorgeous again, especially as we are driving to the Atlas mountains. The stark contrast in scenery is breathtaking. After our driving adventures from our first trip, we have done really well in knowing where and where not to drive! (For those that don’t know the first Morocco driving stories, ask me next time I see you!)
One adventure yesterday is that Max and I got in a snowball fight in Morocco. While driving through the Atlas mountains it had snowed at some point while we were at KTO. Thinking snow and Morocco don’t really mix we pulled to the side of the road just to touch it. Well then I started throwing snowballs….
Max and I are now in a nomadic-esque lifestyle until we arrive back in California on 30 March. We have two flights to catch over the next two days, so are effectively in flight travel mode until then. If something post worthy comes up over the next two days I’ll get it up here, otherwise I’m signing off from the blog for this trip. I’ll jump back in on updates during our next installation trip beginning the second week of April. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed following along on our little adventure over the past couple weeks.
Hope everyone is doing well back home and looking forward to seeing you! I’ll leave with an image of KTO with the Sahara desert in the background.