You will agree with me there is nothing more infuriating than working on a computer and suddenly the blue screen appears, leading to a restart… The infamous “Blue screen of Death”… Most people (including me) are extremely outraged by this and their rage frequently results in a ferocious shout, a slap on the desk or even a kick aimed at the computer box. Now imagine this, except this computer, is the ‘brain’ of your instrument that is worth about 1 000 000 Euros AND has data of 3 flights which you hope to use in your PhD… Need I say more!

During the second phase of the campaign, I am less involved in flight planning and are responsible for data downloading and calibrations. I was awaiting the arrival of HALO from Germany, whereby it accrued 3 flights worth of data. This should have been a days work just downloading the 6TB worth of data. This quickly turned into a nightmare of starting the download, 3-10mins later, BOOM – Blue screen of DEATH!! Then shutdown, power off the instrument, start-up, all adding another 10 mins, then BOOM another blue screen! This went on and on and on… From 08:00 in the morning till 19:00. At times I was lucky enough to get even up to 40 mins of copy time, then just as my hopes raised it was torn to a million pieces by another screen!

I guess the key to such an expensive instrument is to always be prepared. Thanks to the well-preparedness of the technical staff, a whole new ‘brain’ to our instrument was brought to Argentina. This still does not mean I can get my data, however, at least we have a back-up computer for the first scientific flight.

As my battle has continued for 4 days now, still no success… Tomorrow we try new methods of extracting the data, so old your thumbs that I hopefully can salvage something from this bottomless pit of frustration…

About Markus Geldenhuys

Markus Geldenhuys was a PhD student at the Institute for Energy and Climate (IEK-7, Stratosphere) and a HITEC fellow. During his PhD, he was working on gravity waves observed by the infrared spectrometer GLORIA. He was responsible for forecasting, flight planning and data processing during the SOUTHTRAC Campaign.

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