VOICE OVER: We've been working on TIRS since 2008. We're building it in-house at Goddard and these last two months of testing we ran 3 shifts a day to monitor the instrument 24/7.
Because TIRS is a thermal instrument that measures temperature from space, we do our testing in a thermal vacuum chamber where we can control the temp and pressure.
At the front of the chamber is our calibration equipment. Behind is the TIRS instrument. Both sit on top of a sled that slides out of the chamber.
But before we move TIRS we need to do a thorough inspection. Photographs document the layout of wires to see if anything is touching that shouldn't be. It only takes a little bit of accidental contact to add an extra heat load to the cryo-cooler.
VERONICA OTERO: So, OK, you can pull it out.
VOICE OVER: Once satisfied with our inspection we disconnect the wires and cooling lines from the instrument and the calibration equipment. Then we pull out the sled.
PETE STEIGNER: - And then we'll have three people out here pulling and everybody else that's not doing anything is going to be monitoring, making sure we don't catch any harnesses, cables, or whatnot.
VOICE OVER: We need someone in the back of the chamber to handle the connections on that side too. They also help push the sled out.
TIRS TEAM: Thank you.
Ready, Karl? - Yes.
VOICE OVER: It doesn't feel that heavy, even though it's a lot of weight. The sled is engineered to roll pretty smoothly.
TIRS TEAM: -Stop!
VOICE OVER: As we work we stay connected to a grounding wire, to keep static electricity from damaging the instrument.
TIRS TEAM: Watch your step, Michael.
TIRS TEAM: Stop! - There it is.
VOICE OVER: We need to completely cover the equipment before we open the protective tent. This keeps dust and other particulates from contaminating or damaging the instrument. We'll move the whole platform down the hall with TIRS still on top.
PETE STEIGNER: We're going to have Karl, Mike pushing from the back
VOICE OVER: The platform rides on a cushion of air, kind of like an air hockey table, or a hovercraft.
It's pretty easy to steer, but we don't want to move too quickly and jolt the instrument . The important thing is safety, because we are moving hundreds of pounds of equipment.
Once we get TIRS in the cleanroom, we can do the final touches and get on with the rest of our environmental testing.
So far TIRS has done a beautiful job of providing the engineering team and the scientists with the data that they need. In many cases we're exceeding our requirements. And that is very exciting.
It's not only performing, but performing beautifully.