Spirit Sol 29

I told one of the media people I'd come in a few minutes early to handle some radio interview. While I'm getting ready in the morning (afternoon), I listen to Jeff Levy's computer show on KNX radio. He says he's going to have an expert on the show to talk about the Spirit problems, and I wonder if I'm going to be the expert. Turns out, I am.

It goes OK. Mainly he wants me to tell them that we had a problem because we didn't clear out the filesystem regularly, so that he can emphasize that people need to do this on their own computers. I mostly manage to avoid deep geekness, though I make a minor mistake towards the end when I forget one of the rules of interviewing (you're not talking to the interviewer, you're talking through the interviewer to his audience) and get a little more technical than I should. But it's not bad; he cuts me off and I take the hint. After I'm off the air, I hear him saying approvingly that I can actually explain problems in English, which means I did OK. He sounds excited that I was even on the show, which is a reaction I get a lot, and it's still weird for me. Flattering -- I have to admit I like it, as shallow as that is. But weird.

I finish that just in time for real work. I find the real mobility experts, Jeff Biesiadecki and Mark Maimone, in the SMSA and review my traverses with them, showing them my favorite first. It's their favorite as well, which makes me happy because it makes me feel like I know what the hell I'm doing. They give me a couple of useful rules of thumb for estimating how much data the traverses will generate and we make some minor changes to help Mark calibrate his navigation code, but the traverse itself is essentially unchanged.

On my way to the downlink assessment meeting, I pass by Glenn Reeves, the MER flight software lead, who says, "Man, that tool is so cool!" "RSVP?" I ask. I didn't even know he'd used it. "Yeah!" he says. Cool. Marc Pack tells me the same, that Glenn was impressed with RoSE. W00t!

Marc also asks if I think a person could learn everything he needed to know in order to become a rover driver, in the amount of time remaining in the mission. He says he's not asking for himself, which I think is true -- I think I know who wants to know, but I want him to tell me, so I avoid answering the question for a while. I consider answering him in the words of Joshu: "You see the mountain before you. You struggle to climb the mountain. When you reach the other side, you look back, and you see that there never was a mountain, there was only yourself." But I don't think he'd get it, and I have work to do. So I tell him yes.

At the downlink assessment meeting, John Grant (who's running it) reports that "higher food groups" (there's that malapropism again) are pressuring us to drive, so it's unlikely we'll IDD White Boat. That will probably just be a drive-by, followed by days and days of mostly driving. W00t, again!

The meeting isn't a long one, but they spend a lot of it struggling to decide what can be safely deleted from the flash. The engineering team wants to reformat the flash filesystem so that we can be in a known state, and we have to salvage everything we need before we do that. They pretty much have to ensure we get the MEX overflight stuff, but the rest is debatable.

There's still no rover driver work to do, so the SOWG is a non-event for me. "Tomorrow, they'll be showing the Super Bowl during this meeting," Grant laments, but I ignore the rest of it.

It looks like I won't have any real work for the whole day, and I'm about to pack it in early, when I hear an engineering request over the VOCA net. The Mobility/IDD team wants us to dump the rover's mobility parameters, so we can ensure that it's as we left it. This takes all of one command, but even delivering a single one-command sequence carries some bureaucratic overhead. Just for the heck of it, I not only do the needed overhead, but also all the extra stuff, writing an uplink report and generating simulation files and an end-of-day screen shot. I end the uplink report this way:

"Concerns: The rover drivers have too much time on their hands. This problem is expected to fix itself shortly."

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