Spirit Sol 576

Ray Arvidson says, "We'll be at the summit, if we're lucky, next week. Summit Two (this hill has two peaks, and that's the nearer and taller one) was about 120m from our last target, and we did about 30 over the weekend."

But someone else reports that Larry Crumpler's localization puts us only 45m away, half that distance. I ask Ashitey for the scoop, and he grins and rolls his eyes. "Nobody knows," he says.

"Did I just hear them say there's about 50m of uncertainty?"

"That," Ashitey agrees, "plus or minus 100."

It's rather like what happened as we approached the base of this hill. We were obsessed with reaching the base, and when we got there it was just a gradual slope -- a transition, but not an abrupt one, from plains to hillside. There was never a dividing line that said "You Have Now Reached Husband Hill." And now that we're reaching the top, it's the same thing: we're looking for a flag, forgetting that we came to plant it.

LTP finally comes on the line (they were knocked out by lightning, which destroyed the badge readers at their University of Arizona building) and speaks to the point, though they don't offer much clarity: according to them, the summit is either 50m or 70m away, at an azimuth of either 104 or 140, depending on whose localization you believe (Larry Crumpler's or Ron Li's). Ashitey says he wants the summit to be about 300m away, since he's going out of the country for a week and doesn't want to miss the goal he worked so hard for. But while there's uncertainty in the numbers, there's not that much uncertainty. Sorry, Ashitey.

Well, we'll drive at 120 today; that'll be close enough for now. And we're only going 20m, because that'll take us to a ridge we need to see over in order to continue.

Ashitey does most of the work as Ashley Stroupe -- another Mob/IDD team member training for the RP job -- looks on. Then Ashley watches and works with me as I do my RP-2 thang.

She's pretty sharp and seems to be coming up to speed well. Which is what I tell Frank when he asks me. "She seems kinda nervous, but I think she's gonna be fine," I tell him.

"Nervous is good," he says. "I worry more about the ones who aren't nervous. Like, I think, 'I remember how nervous I was when I was first doing this. How can you not be nervous?'"

Which is funny and true. If you're not nervous about taking this job on, you're not taking it seriously enough.

Later, I have Ashley walk through the sequence for me, as a way of ensuring she understands everything in it. Then -- what the hell -- she understands everything anyway. "So you do the CAM walkthrough," I tell her.

She's reluctant, but she does it. And she does great.[1]

[Next post: sol 578, August 18.]

[1] One of the pleasures for me in reviewing these notes, five years after the fact, is to see the first appearance of people who would later become rover drivers -- good ones. It happened with Jeng, and with Ashitey, and with Paolo, and now it's happened again with Ashley. Ashley, as you might know, is the lead RP for Spirit -- and I hope Spirit gives her some work again soon, when Spirit wakes from her winter hibernation.

Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech. The way ahead. So close to the top that we can taste it -- and yet we're going to have to restrain ourselves to slogging ahead, one little bite of that distance at a time.

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