I am currently on the way back from Socorro, New Mexico, stuck in an airport in Chicago due to a delayed flight. This is the first major hiccup in an otherwise successful training. When we first arrived in the city of Socorro, our group which included Param, Maria, Prof. Levin and myself, we were supposed to stay in the NRAO guest house. However, there were a few bugs who decided they wanted to stay there instead of us. So, Param and I had to relocate to a bug free room all the way on the other side of a town which has 2 main roads and a population of about 10,000. Luckily the other side of town was a 20 minute walk or a 3 minute drive. Socorro was a beautiful city with plenty of mountains and sunshine and sparse cloud cover. This town is in the middle of the desert so it goes up to over 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the day with less than 10% humidity.
Once settled into our second hotel room of the day, we all went to Wal-Mart to buy some ice cream. After eating the ice cream, Vadim and Maria went back to the guest house and Param and I explored Socorro. We learned 2 things about Socorro on this night. 1) There is absolutely no night life as everyone goes back home at 5pm and 2) everyone has very big dogs that will bark at you and chase you if you get too close.
The PASSCAL center was about a 3 minute drive from the hotels. When we first arrive there we got a tour of the building. It was very impressive seeing hundreds of devices that cost around $20,000 each just sitting on the shelves waiting for someone to use them to do research. After the tour we got to work to learn how to use th Ref Tek 130 DAS (RT130 or DAS for short). There are many things involved in setting it up such as making sure all the parameters are the desired setting and making sure that the voltage is constant throughout the system. After a long day of work, we were ready to let it sit and collect data.
Today was the day that we would look at the data that we collected to make sure it all worked well -and it did. After leaving at around noon, it was time to go the Very Large Array (VLA) to look at the famous radio telescopes. It was about an hour drive west of Socorro. Upon arrival, we looked at the telescopes and a private, VIP tour from one of the maintenance workers. After, it was time to head back to ABQ for the conference.
At the conference all we did was eat lunch and dinner. The rest of the time we spend touring around ABQ. We went to old town and went on a ghost tour at night.
Over all, the trip was very informative and I cannot wait to use the new skills in the field in CR!