Spirit Sol 61

The big picture of the "smoky" RAT hole is on the wall in the downlink assessment meeting. The scientists are trying the two-sol planning experiment, planning sols 61 and 62 today. The basic idea is to IDD the rock on sol 61 (possibly with a short afternoon drive), then drive toward Bonneville on sol 62. They also want to take a "legacy panorama" -- another panorama like the mission success pan they took on the lander, this one from so far away that the lander is no longer visible. We're that far away already.

From here until we reach the crater rim (which Ray pushes hard for, again -- my hero!), we'll mostly have touch-and-go sols, IDDing a rock if one happens to be in the IDD work volume, and otherwise examining the soil. The drives will be structured the way they normally are, blind driving until the limit of our data, stopping for localization imagery, then autonav until the time-of-day limit. Then we take drive-direction imagery so we can drive efficiently the next sol, and shut down for the evening. We're going to try to reach the rim in 10 more sols.

I don't hang around Building 264[1] long, just enough for a quick pix fix. Instead of leaving, I take Rafi's suggestion and go to Thursday Quality Time.[2] Which turns out to be very nice. Everyone wants to talk to me about the mission, so I feel like a local celebrity. But mainly it's just nice to hang out with these people. I've missed them.


[1] The JPL building from which we drive the rovers. It's so nice how they name the buildings creatively like that.

[2] Rafi Solomon is a fellow member of the group I officially work for -- I supposedly develop software for processing telemetry, but I haven't actually done much of that for the last few years. "Thursday Quality Time" is the affectionate name for our weekly group meeting, which should give you a clue as to why I really do like those people and miss spending time with them.

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