Spirit Sol 231

This morning is one of those mornings that makes me appreciate all the mornings that aren't like this morning.

But there's good news when I get to work. Yestersol's sequence worked out fine, despite the wacky joint moves we used. Yestersol's focus was on brushing Ebenezer with the RAT; thisol we're following that up by grinding. Leaving an eternal mark on another world -- it's a strange kind of immortality, but I have an inexhaustible appetite for it.

After the grind, we APXS the RAT hole. As a measure of how cold it's getting on Mars, we can APXS at mid-day -- since the APXS works best in the cold, we used to have to wait until late at night to start it. So the warmest part of our day is now about as cold as the coldest part of our day used to be. Poor Spirit. Hang in there, baby, summer's coming. Just a few more months ....

Of course, the colder temperatures, and reduced sun exposure, mean we have less energy to play with. So the RAT's tail gets amputated -- what starts as a three-hour grind (insert Gilligan's Island reference here) is cut to two and a half hours, then to two. Like any of the scientists, the RAT guys' faces fall a little more each time they're cut. I slide over to one of them, Phil Chu, and commiserate. "That's the same thing that used to happen to us all the time on drive sols -- it starts out as a four-hour drive and you end up with fifteen minutes." Phil laughs. "Ah, it's not a problem," he says. And he's probably right, at that -- Ebenezer's a soft rock; even with only two hours to run, the RAT will take a good chunk out of it.

I'll never have kids, but I'll make an indelible hole in a rock on Mars. Take that, posterity.


Anonymous said...

How deeply does the RAT abrade rock to create a more-or-less eternal mark? I was under the impression that Mars still has wind-driven fines weathering everything.

Scott Maxwell said...

The deepest RAT holes are just several millimeters. As unimpressive as that might sound, those holes will be there for hundreds of thousands to billions of years, depending on the rock and the hole and the geologist offering the opinion.

I look at it like this. Even the shortest-lived RAT hole will be there longer than, say, the Pyramid of Cheops has so far been with us. It's eternal enough for me. :-)

Anonymous said...

Definitely a fair point. Human timescales don't even compare to geological timescales which are probably still shorter than areological timescales.