No rover driver needed today -- again -- though this will probably be the last day that happens for a while. So it's a short day for me, or would be if I were smart.
My day starts off pretty well. I knew they didn't need me, but I check in just to make sure anyway. Then I take a break for an hour, hanging out and chatting with Eddie Tunstel.
Eddie, like Ashitey, has worked on the project since back when it was FIDO. He's amazed by the drives we've been doing. FIDO had similar capabilities to MER, but they were far more conservative driving it. Even when they took it out for field trials, they didn't feel comfortable with blind drives of more than 3-5m, and a paper to establish the state of the art at the time projected 10m/sol. Eddie and Ashitey were much more aggressive than the mission managers, because they understood the vehicle's capabilities better, but even they would have laughed at the prospect of covering 140m in a single day.
Eddie's now working on a paper to describe the rovers' slip characteristics. One of the things he's trying to do is to separate two issues: how much the rover slips because the soil or rocks give way under its wheels, and how much its effective wheel radius is changed by sinking into the soil (which produces a similar effect: the wheels are effectively smaller, so the rover covers less distance each time the wheels turn). He cheerfully admits we won't be able to completely separate the two issues, so no doubt the paper will spark other papers, arguing about the numbers. As far as I can tell, that's what academic papers are for. Eddie is on the ball.
Then it all kind of goes downhill. The one thing I don't like about my movie-making script is that the software it invokes to actually build the movies can't generate movies that run at 15 frames per second. 30fps is no problem, and a few other values are supported. But you can't just pick whatever frame rate you want. So I download another movie generator, only to find it's apparently built on the same source code and seems to have the same restriction. I hack the source code, but the obvious approach doesn't seem to work.
I go home, but I can't stop thinking about the problem. So I do some more research and find another movie generator that does let you pick your own frame rate. I figure out how to use it, create a 15fps MPEG -- and when I try to play it, the movie frame creeps slowly to the right while playing. It's sort of like the way old TVs used to lose frame sync and start to roll, only horizontal instead of vertical.
Screw you guys, I'm going home.
Oh, wait, I am home. Well, anyway, screw you guys.