| The LIGO
LIGO Livingston Observatory NewsM1 Mini-Run at LLO
Hurricanes Threatened LIGO Livingston Observatory
LSU Chancellor Mark Emmert Visits LLO
A "mini run" dubbed M1 was held Saturday, November 23, at the LIGO Livingston Observatory (LLO). This six-hour run, lasting from 8 pm until 2 am the next morning, provided an opportunity for authors of various real-time software programs (Data Monitoring Tools or DMT's) and users of this software to run and evaluate updates. Participants traveling to LLO to take part in the run are listed here. Rich Riesen and Joe Langdale were the operations specialists in charge during the M1. Many other local staff members turned out to lend a hand as well. Keith Riles (University of Michigan) organized the overall mini-run with the LIGO Scientific Collaboration (LSC).
The run date and time were chosen so that those members of the LSC with other duties during the week would be able to travel to Livingston to participate on the weekend. Typically, the late evening hours on most Saturdays at LLO are a particularly quiet time seismically, and thus conducive to stable, uninterrupted operation of the interferometer.
Primary objectives of the M1 run were to:
We were able to maintain the interferometer in stable operation during the run, although not in high sensitivity mode (enabling the common mode servo). We also identified several valuable improvements and implemented some bug fixes in DMT software during the run. The data was recorded and will be available on disk so that further improvements can be made prior to the next mini-run, scheduled for mid-December at Hanford.
This brief M1 run gave us the opportunity to plan and evaluate a strategy that will be most helpful to us during the two month long Second Science Run, S2, scheduled to begin in February 2003.
A more alarming headline would have been if the Livingston Observatory had been actually damaged by the destructive events. Happily, the pair of hurricanes that swept through our region in mid-autumn neatly bypassed us here at LLO. The first one, Isidore, missed us to the east; a week later, the second, Lili, veered to the west.
Though we were lucky this time, we did learn and have the chance to practice just what to do when an event such as an approaching hurricane threatens the observatory. Fortunately we had a "Hurricane Preparation Plan" to guide us in the correct steps to shut down and secure the observatory. The plan is structured into several sections, such as General Computing Computers, CDS, LDAS Computers, Lasers and Vacuum Equipment. The rationale for shutting down the computers is to prevent possible damage in case of extended power failures or low voltage conditions. The other area of concern was the vacuum system, in particular the beam tubes, which we isolated from the remaining vacuum equipment by closing the 48-inch diameter gate valves. The Plan served as a checklist to assure that all of the vital portions of the observatory were protected.
The experience we gained during the shutdown was valuable not only in identifying which systems needed to be protected, but also in determining the sequence they should be turned off and subsequently powered back on. We learned that it takes only two to three hours to shutdown all critical systems, while it requires well over a day to bring everything back on line.
Another lesson learned was in our coordination with the Parish and State emergency organizations in deciding whether or when to put the provisions of the "Hurricane Preparation Plan" into effect. Realizing that it's only a matter of time before a hurricane will pass directly over LLO, we are confident that our preparedness will keep any potential damage to a minimum.
Louisiana State University Chancellor Mark Emmert visited the LIGO Livingston Observatory toward the end of this summer. Chancellor Emmert was previously the Provost at the University of Connecticut and has been at LSU only about one year. This was his first visit to LLO, so it presented a good opportunity to acquaint him with the project and the participation of LSU faculty, staff, and students. LSU was actively involved in the acquisition of the land upon which the LIGO facility in Louisiana is built. During this period, Professor Joel Tohline was Chair of the Physics Department and was instrumental in facilitating this activity and fostering a working relationship with the LIGO Project. Joel accompanied Chancellor Emmert on his recent visit to highlight some of this history. Two recent additions to the LSU Physics Department faculty, Professors Gabriela Gonzalez and Joe Giaime, also escorted Chancellor Emmert on his tour to fill him in on their roles in bringing LIGO into full operation. As a momento of his visit, we presented Chancellor Emmert with an aerial photo of the Livingston Observatory.
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