Opportunity Sol 344 (Spirit Sol 365)

The plan for thisol is a touch-and-go: we'll MI the shoulder piece of the heat shield, then drive to SpongeBob. Reaching the exact spot the TPS team wants to see is going to be tricky -- indeed, it initially looks impossible -- but I keep hacking away at it, and together Frank and I figure out a way. Then we show it to the main guy, Ben.

Ben isn't satisfied. He wants the pictures from a different angle.

Okay, then. The angle he wants can't be reached from our current position; the arm interferes with itself when trying to get into the right spot. So after all that work, we blow off the IDD stuff for the day, and change the drive as well. Instead, we'll have to do a two-sol "reapproach" -- stow the IDD, then back off from the heat shield and, nextersol, come back in to a spot where we can scratch the TPS team's itch. ("Well, today went from really hard to really easy," Frank mutters.)

While I was immersed in the IDD stuff we ended up scrapping, Frank suggested we let Khaled[1] handle the drive, which sounded fine to me. I start to regret acquiescing when we decide that the IDD "work" thisol will amount to little more than a stow. But as it turns out, the IDD work is more interesting than expected. We just need to retract the MB from the magnets and stow, but with the heat shield in the way, our maneuvering room is tightly constrained; the usual procedure would whack the arm into the heat shield. So my strategy is, roughly, to reverse the moves that they used to get the IDD up there in the first place, so that we're going through known-working positions on the way out. In doing this, I discover that we had less than a millimeter of clearance at one point! Yikes.

With that stuff done, we turn to discussing nextersol's drive, the reapproach part. One of our decisions is to take images of the underside of the broken-off piece during the reapproach. When we were right next to the heat shield, we were at the right distance but the wrong angle to see the area we were interested in. So as we drive in, we'll take images from one or two standoff positions, trading resolution for viewing angle. If it turns out the underside's shape will keep us from being able to place the IDD at all, we'll know we needn't bother to deploy. Then it occurs to us that we could have taken those pictures on this drive, as we backed away; that would have potentially saved us a sol. By the time we think of this, it's too late to fix it, so we just shrug collectively. We'll get the pictures tomorrow, and that's that.

The exciting discovery of the day is that Khaled is on a terrorist watch list. Well, not our Khaled Ali, but there is a Khaled Ali on the list, so our guy gets special treatment every time he flies. He found out about this when airline security personnel started asking him if he has a tattoo. He does -- on his back; the terrorist suspect has one on his left arm.

"Next time they ask you if you have a tattoo, you should say, 'Not on my left arm,'" I suggest. "Blow their minds."

"I don't mess with those guys," he says.

[1] Khaled Ali, whom we'd recently started training as a rover driver.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Less than a millimeter of clearance from the heat shield? I'm amazed that you had accurate and precise enough knowledge to know that. Very cool!