Opportunity Sol 567 (Spirit Sol 586)

Opportunity's recent reset -- her little fainting spell -- is still a mystery. As with the previous, similar anomalies, we suspect that it's MTES-related, so there's no MTES this weekend. (However, we don't know that; it's just an educated guess. As John Callas later puts it, "The MTES just happened to be in Ford's Theater when Lincoln was shot. Twice.") But we're driving.

Or not. My plan is to resurrect the sol-563 drive, which never took place because Opportunity fainted before she could drive and therefore wisely decided to stay put instead. But John Callas swings by and sees it on my screen. He's nervous. "You think this is too ambitious?" he asks.

I don't. But he's getting flak from NASA HQ, which (the phase of the moon being what it is) is accusing us of proceeding too aggressively in the wake of a fault we can't explain. He goes away to worry about this, in a big meeting on the topic, while I smooth out some of the drive's rough edges.

We won't have quite as much drive time allocated for thisol as we did for 563, but Paolo works out a clever way to shave enough time off of the drive without compromising anything. We have it all ready to go when the anomaly meeting concludes.

The word: this reboot is, for some reason, worse than the last time something like this happened. (For some reason, we have no data products showing what happened immediately before the reboot -- a very unusual circumstance.) So we're doing nothing of interest this weekend. In particular -- you guessed it -- no driving.

This seems overcautious to me, but Justin Maki, who was in the meeting, provides the inside scoop. "Somebody brought up the point, 'What if you drove on without any further investigation and you never heard from Opportunity again? Could you tell the review board you did the right thing?' From there, it degenerated into a worry-fest." He grimaces. "I'm going to go get some lunch."

Worry-fest aside, the basic question is the right one to ask. Nobody thinks the investigation will turn up anything, since Opportunity was only executing a standard MTES sequence it had executed many times before. But the questions we'd face if we didn't do it ....

Okay, fine. This drive will go up someday, just not today. Meanwhile, I think Justin was onto something with that whole lunch idea.

[Next post: sol 589 (Opportunity sol 569), August 30.]


Anonymous said...

I don't remember hearing about this fault five years ago. Was it ever resolved?

Scott Maxwell said...

To the best of my recollection, no, we never did find out what was going on here.

To make things worse, we've seen a lot of flaky Mini-TES-related behavior since then -- which we also don't understand. sigh