The dawn of a new project was a new experience for me -- I usually don't get up until about 07:30 -- but I had to drag myself out of bed at 06:00 to drive up to Albuquerque and get to the work site for this project by about 08:00 for four days in a row. I took the picture below while driving up the first morning mostly to keep me awake.
I give up. I guess this is just a dangerous job, even though it doesn't seem like it.
This was to have been a quick project at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and it would have been really quick had it not been for some of the equipment PASSCAL provided.
The area where we worked was a bit out in the boonies along with a lot of the other projects and work sites on Kirtland AFB. Below is a picture of the Starfire Optical Range complex taken from where we were working. It is a collection of telescopes and high-powered lasers. The original idea behind the facility was to use the lasers to create what looked to the telescopes like stars, then adjust the optics of the telescopes in real-time to correct for the distortion of the laser's "star" image caused mostly by atmospheric turbulence. Correcting for the turbulence would allow the telescopes to see very fine details of objects in space. The technique is generally called adaptive optics. There are now civilian telescopes that apply the technique to obtain better images of real stars. If we had known what they were up to these days at the Starfire Range they would have had to have shot all of us.
Another one of the large facilities that we drove past everyday was the Solar Power Tower. You can't quite see them in the picture below, but there was a large collection of mirrors of various shapes and sizes between the tall tower on the left and the smaller one on the right. These mirrors could be commanded to track the sun and reflect the sunlight at the tall tower. You can see the round, bright spot halfway up the tower. This was where at least some of the mirrors were shining. The point of all of this was to have all of the mirrors concentrate the sunlight in one spot near the top of the tower, use the energy to heat a liquid, and then use the resulting steam to produce electricity. Of course you could also probably use all of that heat to do other things, but if we knew what that was they would have probably had to have shot all of us again.