Spirit Sol 89

We went 37m yestersol, bringing us to 565 of the needed 600. They'll make it nextersol. If only I were going to be driving. Oh, well.

I'm sitting in the sequencing MSA with Chris when some of the scientists come in to tell him that the instrument reachability maps show that we can't reach much with the IDD. "Well," Chris shrugs, "let's just drive, then."

At the downlink assessment meeting, one of the scientists stands up to strongly champion a drive. "Does anybody still have a doubt that we should let the engineers drive tomorrow? Don't do anything, just let them drive and take the final image at the 600m mark. I talked to Andy Mishkin, and he says it's important to them even if it's no longer important to NASA." I don't know this guy's name, but he's my new best friend. Ron Greeley, the SOWG chair, replies, "We'll talk about that -- there are a lot of people who share that opinion."

"There's bad news and good news," Ron continues. "We didn't get as far as we'd hoped -- but the good is that we have until the end of sol 92. I suggest our highest priority be drive, drive, drive. Sol 89 [tomorrow], science will have a lower priority than driving. We'll try a touch-and-go pre-drive, but" -- he stresses -- "it will be minimal."

There are supporters for the idea -- one scientist argues that we should abandon the touch and just drive, and others agree. But there are opponents as well. Steve Ruff points out, "If we do no science and then have another sol without much odometry, then -- through no fault of the rover planners -- we'll have little odometry and no science."

The guy who first argued for driving speaks up again in reply. "I do in principle agree with you, but not in this instance. Doing a touch-and-go on this rock is not science. If you can't stop at a rock and measure the surface, brush, measure again, and so on," he insists, "then we are not doing science, we're playing games."

"You're in a vocal minority there," Steve retorts.

"Priority is on the drive," Ron reminds everyone. "Priority is on the drive."

"Hey, if we do 35m tomorrow, we'll pass the 600m line. Will there be a wild celebration in the hallways?"

"If someone puts a keg in the ice cream cooler, I'm not gonna complain," says Chris.

"We should at least get a checkered flag for you guys!"

"OK," Ron says, "let's get to work."

Thirty-five meters, is that all that's left? "Do me a favor," I tell Chris as I leave, "just go 34.9m tomorrow."

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