Spirit Sol 74

Interestingly, the scuff-drive ended up driving the rover's right bogie to the hardstop. While climbing over one of the rocks as we backed up, the bogie (the rear part of the rocker-bogie suspension) was angled way up. No harm resulted to the vehicle, and as Rich Petras points out, this is something that rocker-bogie suspensions will do from time to time, and none of our modeling tools can predict it well. So I didn't do anything wrong. But it's a little freaky to see.

I finish implementing a new RoSE feature just in time to go to the downlink assessment meeting. I'm not really clear on how far they drove yestersol, if at all, but they did some remote sensing on White Elephant. Steve Ruff, reporting the MTES results, deadpans: "It looks like a dusty rock." The RAT guy, Steve Gorevan, says White Elephant looks "eminently RATtable," an important consideration for characterizing white rocks. Arvidson seems to want to skip White Elephant, though, feeling that it will slow us down too much. We're not really sure if the terrain is navigable (because we don't have terrain meshes yet), and he wants to put more meters on the wheels.

One thing they might want us to do while putting meters on the wheels is to deliberately drive one side of the rover along a drift, leaving a big scar for them to image. There are problems with doing this (it guarantees slippage, which means uncertainty in our positioning, and that uncertainty is multiplied for a longer drive). But it sounds like a cool thing to do.

Just before the meeting ends, Ray reports that "at LPSC, we were heroes." Steve Squyres stood up and got a huge round of applause before he even said anything. The room was packed wall to wall -- people were standing in the aisles and along the walls; you couldn't enter or leave. "I haven't seen such excitement since the Viking lander missions," he says. "Even grumpy old greybeards were ooh-ing and aah-ing."

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