Spirit Sol 18

Oops. Due to some overly aggressive sequencing, yesterday's master sequence had a command to wait until a time that was about 18 seconds too late. So the spacecraft, following the rules, rejected it. The ops team noticed and fixed this during the day, so they missed the morning science but got our IDD sequences kicked off.

Another oops, this one mine: I was supposed to be available for some phone interview at 6 AM or so -- a live interview on WITI-6 TV, a Fox affiliate in Milwaukee (save your Mary Tyler Moore jokes). I thought the interview was later in the day. But I called the guy back and got it set up for tomorrow.

But even if everything here on Earth is screwed up, at least Spirit is doing well. Specifically, the MI is healthy and is sending back beautiful data (which everyone immediately crowds around in the science downlink assessment meeting). Arvidson gives everyone a little time to admire the images, then says, "OK, can we get back to work now?" And someone says, "No!"

Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech. A microscopic image of Adirondack, showing the fine-grained dust on its surface.

The RAT guy, who's been analyzing the feasibility of using the RAT on Adirondack, praises the "fabulous RSVP tools." It's not really my stuff he's praising here, it's Frank's visualization stuff and Jeng's kinematic stuff more than anything else. I'm filled with pride anyway. He shows pictures from RSVP simulations and pictures from their New York labs demonstrating that they can RAT the chosen spots. Naturally, since this is the first Mars use of the RAT, they're going to be careful, applying only about 60N of force (about what you feel when you hold a 13-pound bowling ball). They can ratchet it up to 100N of force (about 22 pounds) later.

LTP points out a rock that resembles an ammonite and jokes that we've found evidence of invertebrate life on Mars. (But if it were an ammonite, that would count as evidence of a Martian ocean. Hello, free shrimp!) More seriously, he cautions against the desire to check out every little thing, speaking of it as a "trap."

Later, the SOWG is its usual self. It turns out I'm not the only one who finds it a grueling experience: when I tell him I'm here on my day off, Mike Malin calls me a glutton for punishment.


Anonymous said...

Just wanted to thank you again for sharing. This has become a daily read for me.

I'm an aerospace engineering student at the University of Texas at Austin getting bogged down in coursework and wondering what the hell I was thinking. This is a great reminder of why we aerospace engineer--it's freaking awesome.

Scott Maxwell said...

@Anonymous Hey, terrific! Thanks for telling me that. I can relate: I got pretty burned out in grad school and almost quit. You can bet I'm glad I didn't. Hang in there!

Anonymous said...

Hi Scott, this blog is terrific. I really enjoy reading it and I surely will for the next 5 years ;) (must be a hard work for you to update it).
Thank you so much. I do feel like I were at rover driver too ;)

btw Could you post a glossary with the most common technical terms (like SOWG). It would make it easier to read.

Scott Maxwell said...

@Yarp Great idea, though I don't know a nice way to do that within Blogger. Is there some way I can set up a static page with that info within Blogger, without making it a blog post (which I'd have to keep updating)? Or do I just need to set up a separate page outside of the blog itself? (Which I can definitely do, I'm just looking for the best approach.)

Sorry for the dumb question; I haven't really learned my way around the service yet. Ideas welcome -- and I'm glad to hear you're enjoying the blog! Keep reading!

Anonymous said...

Hi Scott,
Oh yes I will keep reading, I'm already hooked and poor lil' Spirit the lame is my favorite rover.
I don't know blogger at all, so I did a google search (Just in order to help you a bit) on the subject:
blogger static pages
Here are 2 pages I selected. They both describe the same technique which is rather trivial.
What I don't see is how difficult it is to add the pseudo static pages link to the blog.

Scott Maxwell said...

@Yarp Thanks for the info! I now have a running glossary here:


There's also a link to it on the sidebar.

I'll continue defining terms in footnotes when they first appear, but I'll also add them to the glossary as I go. Let me know if I overlook anything, and thanks again for the suggestion and the helpful links!

Anonymous said...

Thanks, very helpful. And the persons too.
And yep, I knew who Steve Squyres is ;)