Opportunity Sol 311 (Spirit Sol 332)

Spirit is approaching the 4km mark; they might make it as early as today. It's a shame I won't get to do that drive, but I've contributed my share toward this achievement. It's OK if somebody else has a little glory.

A little.

It turns out that there's a logic behind the fact that some Opportunists want out of Endurance Crater and some don't care. Field geologists, Brenda Franklin explains to me, want out. They want to see new rocks. The spectroscopy folks don't care -- they're hunched over their instrument data, and any rock is as exciting as any other because what they really care about is not the rocks but the instruments themselves.

I say that I think I'm the only Opportunist who's happy either way. "So you don't care whether you get to do a three-hundred-meter drive?" one of the scientists asks teasingly. (This is obviously possible only on the plains outside the crater, not inside the crater itself.) Well, maybe I do care, at that.

Thisol we're redoing the RAT on Wharenhui, making it another easy sol. The exciting stuff -- the egress drive -- will happen later in the week. We should know by 15:15 Sunday whether we've egressed, and I volunteer to come in and help assess the drive result. (Like they could keep me away.) It's a bit of a shame that I won't get to do the drive, but as I've said, I'd rather that honor went to someone who badly wants out. There's no shortage of those folks anyway.

Since most of the cost of the mission was up-front costs -- development, hardware, launch, and so on -- the sols are getting cheaper. We originally figured about $4 million per sol -- that's assuming about 200 sols of combined operations and an overall mission cost of about $800 million. But now we've had about 600 sols of operations, with only a modest cost increase. As Art points out, that means sols now cost about $1.3 million each. (And since that's amortized over the life of the mission, they're actually cheaper than that.) "Pretty soon they'll be so cheap we can all afford 'em," he says. "Maybe we should start auctioning them on eBay." [1]

[Next post: sol 337, December 14.]


[1] Since I know you're wondering ... I don't have exact numbers, but they're now well under a quarter-million apiece. And still falling.


Anonymous said...

Is the spirit 4km mark reference at the start of this entry supposed to refer to opportunity.

I understood that spirit was currently bogged down and unlikely to be making a lot of progress in the short term.

AySz88 said...

Anonymous - these posts are documenting the things that happened five years ago (to the day, I think). Both rovers have gone well past 4 km now.

Anonymous said...

Actually the posts are current not 5 years ago. The post on Opportunity/spirit 4km mark is 2009-12-08.

Anonymous said...

Apologies - the posts are dated I was misled by the dates on the posts. Don't see the point in continually updating a blog so out of date.

David Noble said...

They're on a 5 year tape delay:

"I'll post each sol's (Martian day's) notes just about when I was starting my work day, five years earlier"


Anonymous said...

Please, Scott Maxwell, more clearly label this blog as a retrospective. It is entirely confusing. It should be cleary indicated in every article that the present tense being used is for events in the distant past.

The sol dating helps a little -- if the reader is up on it and paying attention -- but how about also adding the earth-time date, from many years ago, to each title. Or just have some very large labeling indicating this material is historical.

People who come into the middle, say from a Web search, are very likely to not understand they aren't reading about current events.

It is welcome material. It just needs to clearly indicate what it is. Thanks.

Joe said...

Most of us stop by here daily,us,meaning people from Mars forums.Believe me there are some really,intelligent,enthusiastic,sometimes passionate posts on these forums.Give Unmanned Spaceflight.com a look-see.

Welcome aboard Anonymous,
Joe in Texas