Spirit Sol 28

Apparently we screwed up a comm window setting or something. No driving tomorrow (not that we were going to drive so soon anyway). We might IDD.

At the downlink assessment meeting, we learn that they're also not going to trash the flash tomorrow. Trashing the flash would have freed up enough room for us to do 30Mbits of science downlink for tomorrow, but now that's not going to happen. The big activity for tomorrow will be a simple MTES checkout sequence so that we can use the MTES for real on sol 29.

We've detected magnetite in Adirondack, and Tom Wdowiak gives a short presentation on the implications of this finding for the proposed Noachian Martian "dynamo." (The MB results clearly show magnetite and olivine. It's not completely certain that Adirondack is a basaltic rock, but its overall composition is typical of an olivine basalt.) Adirondack is near a region of observed magnetic anomalies on Mars (a region jokingly called the "Bermuda Triangle" by the scientists). The shock of the impact that created the Gusev crater would have erased the local record of this Martian dynamo, just as dropping a magnet can sometimes destroy its magnetism. But Adirondack may have a record of this magnetism. Gathering more information about this may be vitally important for understanding early Mars: a magnetic field on early Mars would have affected the interactions of the solar wind and the atmosphere, and understanding how the early field is now recorded is a clue to the details.

Jake Matijevic reports that the task-trace script we've been trying to run on board the rover for the last few days has worked at last. The contents of the flash filesystem are now known, and we're looking at what to recover. We didn't reestablish CBM nominal mode today, so the rover is going to stay in low-power mode. Consequently, no sequences can run tonight, but we can operate the payload from 1400-1600 LSTA[1] and uplink the gathered data in the ODY pass. Jennifer Trosper has somewhat more cheering news: the spacecraft booted normally today and mounted the flash filesystem without entering a reset loop. (The scientists applaud.)

In honor of this news, I propose to Jennifer and Mark Adler, the day's mission managers, that we should use "Jumpin' Jack Flash" (by The Rolling Stones) as a wakeup song in the next couple of days. ("Well, it's all right now, in fact it's a gas / Well, it's all right / Jumpin' Jack Flash, it's a gas, gas, gas!") They like the idea, so I snag a copy of the song from iTunes (I sense a pattern developing) and send it to them.

I don't have any sequences to deliver for tomorrow, so I revisit the White Boat traverse I planned out yesterday. I decide that bypassing Adirondack is excessively paranoid even for me (which is saying something), so I plan two other traverses that both pass straight over Adirondack. I now have three different ways of getting to White Boat, which should be plenty.

Tonight is Opportunity's egress. John Wright is going to be down in the press room, handling any media requests, so I go by to wish him luck and he's not there. The Media Office asks if I can fill in for him. I start to mumble an excuse but then cut myself short. "That's the wrong answer," I say. "Here's the right answer: When do you need me?" They laugh and applaud.

I go and get some nasty food from Jack in the Box first, and by the time I come back they've gotten in touch with John; he's going to handle interviews from home. So I decide to blow out of there, but they ask me to stay anyway, in case anyone wants an on-camera interview. (Which I'm not really dressed for, but that doesn't seem to bother them.) It turns out there's no on-camera interviewing needed after all, though I do handle a couple of call-in interviews (one with the AP, and a short live interview with AP Radio). Mostly I just hang out with the media folks, who are really nice and always make a point of thanking me. Which makes it easier that I'm not in the SMSA for the actual egress. Opportunity sends back a beautiful rear HAZCAM image of its wheel tracks leading away from the lander, looking like the first footprints after a snowfall. Twelve wheels on dirt! (Or "two six-packs," as someone puts it.)

I need to sleep before tomorrow's shift, so I don't stick around for the press conference (which makes me feel even more disconnected from this event). I watch it at home while getting ready for bed. Maybe it's just because I'm watching from a distance, or because I'm distracted, but it seems to be an abbreviated version of itself. Whatever. The second it's over, I turn off the TV and instantly fall asleep, Zenobia[2] purring as she snoozes on my chest.

Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech. Opportunity looks back at her lander. We now have twelve wheels on Mars.


[1] That is, 2-4PM, local solar time for MER-A (Spirit). (Noon local solar time can be intuitively defined as: when the sun is overhead wherever you happen to be.) Essentially, Jake's message is: sorry, science team, but today you get the rover for only a couple of hours in the afternoon.

[2] My orange tabby. I miss her.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have an admission: looking at the HAZCAM from Opportunity, I saw bleachers behind the lander and some odd structure that took up most of the top of the frame. It took me nearly a minute to realize that was the underside of the rover.