Spirit Sol 119

Naturally, the morning drive ran to completion. It didn't even come close to being cut off during the wheel wiggle. So all that work was for nought. Of course, if we hadn't done it, and the drive had been cut off .... At least I was able to sleep last night.

Anyway, the bad stuff didn't happen. Indeed, the drive went very well. We didn't make 100m, but we did set yet another new record, 92.7m.

"We set a new record, but we didn't smash the old one," John says.

"So we made Art happy," I say.

"Yeah," Craig Leff chimes in, "that's the bad news, but ...."

Another good thing that came out of yesterday's worries was a realization that this could have happened to nearly any drive -- in principle, any of our drives could have gotten chopped off this way. We just never thought about it before. Most of the time, we drive only once per sol, so if a drive got deactivated during the wheel wiggle, we'd know there was a problem -- we wouldn't have gotten the final drive imagery, which happens after that. But if that did happen, we might not notice that the goal error was masked, so we might unwittingly send a drive sequence that would execute with the mask on. To avert this possibility, I go talk to the mobility/IDD folks and ask them nicely to start putting the mask's state in their downlink reports.

We got pretty close to the crater rim. Thisol we'll drive in a zigzag path up to the rim, take some pictures of the crater, and drive on. At one point, I look at the drive from overhead, and realize our path forms a capital "M." So I attach a picture of this to my uplink report, with the note, "Today's drive sequences have been brought to you by the letter 'M.'"

Yes, sequences -- plural. We're splitting the sequence again. Art has some questions about this at the walkthrough, and I go through why there won't be a problem. He believes me, but says something to John along the lines of, "What will we do if we see a problem?"

John shrugs. "That's why we have an RP-2 here, for precisely that kind of thing."

"Yeah," Art replies, "then you [gesturing at me] can call us at home and tell us there's a problem."

"Well, if you'd rather I not tell you ..." I shrug.

Art's eyes widen. "No, no!" he exclaims. "You did the right thing!"

Damn straight, I did.

When I'm on my way out, I run into Richard Kornfeld. He was one of our SIEs, but I haven't seen him for a while, so I've assumed he's been working on Opportunity. Nope. He's moved on; he's now doing some kind of system engineering or something for MSL. He asks if I'm thinking of transferring to another project.

"No way," I tell him. "I'm staying until the rovers die or I do."

[Next post: sol 123, May 8.]

Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech. Looking ahead. Those hills are getting bigger all the time.

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