Spirit Sol 198

Today is all about food. It begins with Larry Soderblom's game of Hide-the-Pizza. John goes to the cafeteria to get a pizza, brings it back, then leaves again to fill his water bottle. While he's gone, Larry takes John's pizza and hides it on top of the cabinets.

John notices the missing pizza, but doesn't say anything. I guess he suspects Larry, because a few minutes later, I hear Larry chuckling, "I should know better than to mess with the rover planners." When I look around, John's munching away.

John's doesn't say anything at all about it until the Activity Plan Approval meeting. "Before showing the animation, I'd just like to point out what a fine judge of human character I am," he drawls. "I knew that if I put down my pizza and then filled up my water bottle, the pizza would be gone when I got back ...." We all laugh.

Later, Cindy Oda announces it's Julie Townsend's birthday, and apparently they got her a cake. A yummy, yummy chocolate cake. They got a candle, but none of us smokes, so nobody had a lighter. So I use my laser pointer to fake a flame, which Julie pretends to blow out after we all sing "Happy Birthday."

When Albert Yen asks me a question about something else, I answer it and then ask him what they've learned about the outcrop so far. They've found bromine, which is exciting because bromine gets deposited in rocks by water. Curiously, there's more bromine inside the rock than outside, which doesn't seem to fit the model of water depositing bromine on an igneous rock. One possible explanation is that the rock consolidated from ash-fall over a long period, with the ash condensing around bromine-laden water. He looks at the image on my screen and shakes his head wonderingly. "If you showed me this and didn't tell me what vehicle it was from, I would not have said Spirit," he says. "This is good stuff."

Well, it's nice to have the scientists interested in Spirit, at last.

In honor of Spirit's track record at uncovering new fatal modes -- such as the weird fatal that cropped up last time I was on shift, a few sols ago -- Mark Adler has decided we should rename Spirit the MSTB (Mars Surface Testbed).

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