When the rover receives the uplink, it sends us back a simple tone to acknowledge receipt. That's called the nominal beep. There's also an off-nominal beep, in case the rover thinks something went wrong with the uplink.
Today we didn't get either the nominal or the off-nominal beep from Opportunity. This is unusual, but it can, and probably does, mean nothing -- the DSN made a mistake in configuring the antenna, or something like that. But it can also mean the rover's dead, so it's cause for some worry.
As usual, this prompts me to think about ways I might have killed the rover. "Maybe we drove it off a cliff," I suggest to Andy.
"No, we beep before driving, so that can't be the reason."
He pauses. "Of course, maybe you drove over a cliff afterward," he adds helpfully.
Naturally, Opportunity is just fine. We never find out what happened with the beep, but we get the downlink right on schedule, so nobody cares too much. And what a downlink -- 122 Mbits, a huge amount of data, some as old as sol 207. This downlink even gets us over the "Herkenwall," a huge amount of MI imagery due to Ken Herkenhoff.
More important to me, yestersol's tricky drive seems to have gone well. Very well. Suspiciously well, come to think of it: according to the data, we're less than 20cm from our predicted position. Frank and I hold off on reporting the happy news until we can confirm it against the images, but it turns out we needn't have been so conservative; we really did do that well.
Even better, we got the full 8m out of the drive. After all that worry about the exact size of the post-first-segment target zone, Opportunity was only 10cm from its center -- basically, right on predict.
So it's easy to see we're driving again today. As we work on the sequence, election results are trickling in, and the telepresent scientists report them -- with diminishing enthusiasm -- as the night progresses. They sounded just like this during the American League Championship Series games the Red Sox lost. Looks like a tough year for Yankees fans and Democrats.
[Next post: sol 303, November 9.]