Spirit Sol 38

I'm not on shift today, but I gotta get my fix. Yesterday's drive went splendidly; It was Chris's first drive, so I congratulate him on it. We only got a thumbnail so far, but it looks like we nailed the autobot image, and the rover drove maybe 7m on its own before hitting the drive time-of-day limit, for about 20m total. We doubled our mileage yet again! And we'll try again tomorrow -- yesterday we had thermal concerns that made us cut the driving shorter than we'd planned. But we might get 40m out of this rover some sol or other.[1] We've already officially broken Sojourner's record: we've now done the longest-ever autonomous drive on another planet.

I'm not there long before I discover the downside of coming in on my days off. I do it so I can have some time to chill out and look at the latest data, but that's not how it works out today. Today, Chris asks me to work with one of the power guys to figure out how much energy we used during the drive yesterday, so we can calibrate our estimates ("since you're around anyway ..."). I'm surprised by how much I resent being asked -- it's not unreasonable of him, but I really don't want to do it. I probably need more sleep, and some time for myself. On the other hand, I don't want to be an asshole about it. So I don't say no, I just go talk to the power guy and talk him into doing the heavy lifting. Then I tell Chris it's being taken care of, and that I'm leaving in a few minutes. Tomorrow I'll think about how not to be seen.

I hang out for most of the downlink assessment meeting anyway. Tomorrow is shaping up to be a "touch-and-go" sol. They'll deploy the IDD, use a couple of instruments, restow the IDD and drive like the wind. In particular, they're really interested by the duneforms in the spot where we ended up ("Ripple City"). These are small drifts of material, with darker/coarser material on the upwind side, and more dust on the downwind side. The tentative plan is to MI the dust, then maybe MB and/or APXS it, to help ascertain its composition.

It's also up to the science team to help pick a daily image for the Web site. They choose the duneform NAVCAM image, which is a good choice, but I was rooting for the astrobot.

I skip out on the science talks, because it's my only chance to catch up on the latest pictures uninterrupted. If everyone else starts to drift in while I'm still around, I might get more of those since-you're-around-anyways. My strategy works, and before long I'm caught up and going home.


[1] Spirit's current distance record: about 125m.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


I just discovered this blog. Too often, those of us following the various missions get frustrated not being able to get updates from the media or even NASA, especially when something crucial is happening. I never thought to check the blogs.

We all really admire and appreciate the great work you all do, and wish you the best for the future. It is frustrating, with all the money being tossed around Washington to see NASA often being shortchanged, when sometimes the work it does may end up more important than anything else. And the money sometimes is relatively just "small change" from a Washington standpoint.

These missions and the others are very inspiring, and that is really what this country needs right now. Congratulations and good luck on future explorations.