Opportunity Sol 332 (Spirit Sol 353)

The drive went perfectly. We're now on the other side of the flankshield, with the section of interest directly behind us. There's no nasty debris between us and our goal, so thisol's drive will be a simple one: we'll turn in place and bump a little over a meter to the flankshield.

Or maybe there won't be any point. The flankshield started off as kind of a big cardboard O; the impact trauma cut the O and twisted it into an S, with a vertical piece in the middle. This vertical piece is part of what the thermal protection folks want to MI, but the gap surrounding it might not be wide enough for us to fit the IDD's turret into. Frank checks it out, and while it looks like a tight squeeze, we can probably get to some of the bits in the center of the upright piece if we hold our breath.

The dust storm continues to be on everyone's mind. Frank thinks the images we're getting are cool, at least. The light's more diffuse; the shadows not as black.

As for the power effects, are we down the expected 20%? "No, just five percent," says Beth Dewell. "Hey, great!" I exclaim. Then I think about what I just said. "Yeah, our power is down five percent. Great ...."

Incidentally, we're not the only ones seeing increased tau -- Spirit saw a rise as well, though not as dramatic as ours and it's already falling off.

The drive's easy, so it should be a short sol. Should. But it doesn't work out that way: thanks to sloppy (or pessimistic) coders who assumed our rovers wouldn't last the year, one of the scripts our uplink process depends on breaks (it looks ahead a couple of days, sees a new year, and freaks out); it takes a couple of hours to find and fix this bug. So Frank and I have lots of time to read and chat.

One of the things we talk about is that the Opportunity Way is better -- specifically, the practice of having the RP-2 come in about the same time as the RP-1. "Back when Spirit was just charging across the plains, and every sol was pretty much the same as every other sol, we could get away with that," I say. "But when things are more interesting than that, that approach just doesn't work."

Frank agrees. "And it's great to have you here to bounce ideas off of or take the pressure off or whatever."

"Not to mention that if you come in later in the process and you think the RP-1's approach is flawed, it's too late to do anything about it." Oh, if only I could count the number of times I've regretted that ....

Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech. The heat shield, from our new perspective.

Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech. The "flankshield," pretty much straight behind us.

Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech. And last but not least, the impact crater.


Eric said...

Pair programming meets rover driving! You're seeing the same benefits that I observe when pair programming with another senior developer. Do you practice pair programming, too?

Scott Maxwell said...

Not rigorously, but we have done that from time to time.

Frank and I were going to write a paper comparing rover-driving practices with "Extreme Programming" (sorry, it's a silly name) practices; there are some quite interesting overlaps, as you noticed yourself. We still haven't gotten around to it, though.