First and foremost, I hope this blog finds its readers safe and healthy during these uncertain times. Our world has changed dramatically in the seven or so months since I last provided an update on the COSI balloon project.
In March 2020, the COSI balloon mission from Wanaka, New Zealand was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Thankfully, the COSI team traveled safely back to the United States and we were able to ramp down our research activities in a controlled and secure manner.
The data we took in New Zealand has kept us busy during our transition to remote work. Studying the calibration data, comparing instrument performance to that before the 2016 flight, and developing new calibration techniques have filled many Zoom calls. In addition, we’re working very hard on our NASA Phase A satellite study, COSI-SMEX.
The main purpose of this post, however, is to say that we are preparing for a potential return to Wanaka in 2021! Several members of the COSI team have begun working on-site at SSL (masked and social-distanced) to examine the card cages, test the detectors in the cryostat, confirm functionality of the shields, and more. It’s important to verify that our instrumentation is in good shape after shipment across the Pacific and indeed COSI seems to have survived the long journey well.
Though a 2021 balloon flight is not yet confirmed, rest assured we are prepared for the opportunity. I’ll update when we hear more.