I'm back on Spirit. But what with the MRO launch usurping some of our comm passes, and the fact that we're in restricted sols anyway, we're planning so far ahead that we've already planned thisol. But it hasn't executed yet, so there's no data to plan a drive for the weekend. So they don't need me.
What they need is a way to fill up the downlink. This is not a problem I've been used to, over in the Land of Opportunity, but here in the Spirit World they're downlink-rich right now. They're getting something like 270 Mbits downlinked in the next plan alone.
One of the things they come up with to fill up the bits: more dust devil movies. What the heck, they're cool -- that's even how they get sold. "I just like that the scientific rationale is 'it's really cool,'" chimes in one of the scientists on the line. He's not quite objecting, but of course we do always want to use these rovers to best advantage. But quick-witted Diana Blaney retorts, "OK, I'll give you a scientific rationale. We're clearly entering a period of increased dust devil activity, and this will give us better data for statistical analyses." There's applause: Diana just solidly saved an observation we all wanted to do anyway.
And as another scientist points out: we're one and a half years into this mission, and we have a sol that's neither power- nor data-limited. These rovers are supposed to be dead. But obviously, nobody told them.
[Next post: sol 576, August 16.]