Spirit Sol 23

We're into slack time as we continue to wait for the anomaly team to complete its work. Like the other rover drivers, I'm officially released for the moment, but I go to work anyway, late in the evening. Opportunity has sent back a PANCAM postcard, which is showing in the SMSA, and she has an unexplained 0.5-amp current draw[1], but there's little other news from either spacecraft.

So I catch up on my email. There's one nice one from the project, relaying some of the supportive email that's been sent in from the public. That always happens at times like this, and it's quite a morale booster. The email also includes (as it always does) suggestions about what might be wrong and how to fix it. This is never useful in a purely technical sense, but the idea that people around the world are taking the mission personally enough to think about the problem and write in to try to help -- that's a wonderful thing. They might never fix the problem, but I wouldn't want them to stop trying.

I also run into Richard Kornfeld, who tells me that the Swiss TV producer liked the bit with me. So I might be a cameraman and a big star. In Switzerland.



[1] Considerably more ominous than I realized. This turned out to be a stuck-on heater in the shoulder joint of Opportunity's robotic arm. The heater draws so much energy that we eventually had to start turning Opportunity completely off at night -- not even letting her run her survival heaters.

This same stuck-on heater is the reason Opportunity's shoulder joint eventually failed: it gets so hot that the temperature swing for that joint is much more extreme than for any other part of the spacecraft, and eventually a wire broke in response. Imagine taking your laptop from Antarctica to Death Valley and back again -- every single day, for years. That's what was happening to Opportunity's shoulder. It's amazing, really amazing, that it lasted as long as it did.

No comments: