The switchback drive worked -- we've reached the outcrop, and the scientists are awfully excited about it. John and I get to be the first to IDD it.
This still amazes me. This rock has been there, right in this spot, for four billion years, almost since Mars was born. We're the first people ever to even see it, much less explore it.
We're starting out simply enough. Indeed, thisol is so simple that when I walk in, John tells me, "The sequence is done -- you can go home."
Of course, life on Mars is never quite that simple. Now that we've made it up onto the outcrop, we're oriented a little more toward the sun than we have been in recent sols, so we have a lot more energy to play with. So much energy, indeed, that the batteries will be fully charged and shunting -- "spilling over," thus wasting energy, unless we find a way to use up more. So the science team asks if I can add in another stack of MI images near the existing stack, and I'm only too happy to oblige. (It's always nice to have something moderately creative to do.)
The location they chose for the first MI stack is called "Cochiti," an allusion to the Cochiti pueblo in New Mexico. I Google for a map of the area, find a nearby pueblo named "Jemez," and name the second stack's position that. I know it's not official, but it's damn cool to name things on another planet.
The visiting scientists are leaving us. It's their last weekend here, and some of the younger ones are throwing a wild party at their apartments to say goodbye.
I'm not planning to go, but then one of the scientists, Nicole Spanovich, asks me if I'm going.
"Nah, I'm way too busy moving into my new house."
She looks almost hurt. "You should go," she admonishes me.
I'm so easy.
Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech. Persistence pays off. At last, we're ready to start unlocking the secrets of this ancient stone.