October 19, 2018 - This is a truck you definitely don't want to be stuck behind. Very early in the morning (3:10 a.m., to be exact) on Wednesday, October 10, the vehicle carrying the LSST Primary/Tertiary Mirror (M1M3) Cell departed CAID Industries in Tucson. The M1M3 Cell, which is the steel structure that will support LSST's 8.4-meter mirror, weighs approximately 55,000 lbs.
The Cell had been loaded and secured on the truck the day before the move by teams from Precision Heavy Haul (PHH) and CAID, with oversight from Tucker Booth, LSST Telescope and Site Mechanical Engineer. The move itself was scheduled for the quiet morning hours to minimize disruption of traffic, and to minimize stops for the truck, which required more than two lanes of clearance when loaded with the Cell. Accompanied by three pilot vehicles and two state troopers, the truck and its oversized cargo made its way to the Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab on the University of Arizona campus, arriving just before 4:00 a.m.
There was a pause in the action once the truck arrived, because the big, rolling door through which the Cell would enter the Mirror Lab couldn't be opened until the outside air temperature was within 10 degrees Fahrenheit of the Lab's inside temperature. This regulation exists to protect the mirrors currently being fabricated in the Lab from damage caused by abrupt temperature swings. While the group waited for the temperature to rise, the interior of the Mirror Lab was prepared for the acceptance of the Cell.
Teams from PHH and the Mirror Lab also used this time to move the truck into place and position the crane that would lift the Cell into the building. They also performed some test lifts of the Cell using the crane and nylon slings, to ensure the load was balanced correctly. At about 7:30 a.m., the door was cleared to open and the Cell was lifted off the truck and into the Mirror Lab.
"Everything went smoothly, thanks to the crews from CAID, PHH, and the Mirror Lab," said Booth. "Because they had things so well under control, my biggest challenge that morning was finding a 24-hour donut shop."
This week, a similar process will take place with the M1M3 Mirror itself, which will be moved from its airport storage facility to the Mirror Lab. Over the next few months, the Mirror and Cell will be integrated, and the fully assembled system will be tested thoroughly before being disassembled and shipped to Chile in 2019.
Financial support for LSST comes from the National Science Foundation (NSF) through Cooperative Agreement No. 1258333, the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science under Contract No. DE-AC02-76SF00515, and private funding raised by the LSST Corporation. The NSF-funded LSST Project Office for construction was established as an operating center under management of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA). The DOE-funded effort to build the LSST camera is managed by the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory (SLAC).
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 to promote the progress of science. NSF supports basic research and people to create knowledge that transforms the future.
NSF and DOE will continue to support LSST in its Operations phase. They will also provide support for scientific research with LSST data.
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