Spirit Sol 619

Coincidentally, my last drive was performed without the assistance of the ultimate FHAZ, and so must this one be. Spirit's just a few meters away from the true summit of Husband Hill -- a slightly higher point than the spot we last thought was the summit -- and we're going to drive up onto it.

That's a given. The big discussion at the SOWG meeting is what we're going to do next -- I mean, over the weekend. Should we pick a juicy rock and IDD it, and so use that rock as thisol's drive target? Or should we just get into a good position to do imaging, and do self-IDDing (such as by putting the MB on the CCT) over the weekend if we IDD at all?

Hap's take: "We're too experienced to be wasting our time exploring dusty rocks. We should wait and do clean rocks somewhere else."

Squyres agrees: "We may have to trade this strike-and-dip imaging against the IDD position." But they can't get the pictures of rocks they want anywhere else, while the rocks they have pictures of are not particularly interesting IDD targets, so that's a bad trade. "So let's do structural imaging on some face of Hillary" -- named for Sir Edmund Hillary, of course; another rock up here is named for his Sherpa guide, Tenzing Norgay -- "and a panorama."

Alian suggests that we could get into position for imaging and IDD whatever's there, but Squyres says no. "I'm reluctant to use the IDD for low-value targets. Maybe we could get into a good position for imaging and recapture the MB-on-the-CCT measurement we recently lost." And that's pretty much it.

John handles most of the drive, with me looking over his shoulder and offering feedback as he goes. This is a practice we sometimes call "backseat rover driving," and it's a really effective one. I never feel like I'm contributing as much when we plan drives that way, but I'm actually being more useful than if I make the RP-1 do everything himself and then get involved only later.

As we review the drive at the walkthrough, Steve chimes in to remind us of what a big deal this is. "This is the final drive to the summit of a mountain we've been climbing for more than a year," he observes. "And it's our last real uphill drive for a while."

This should feel like a more momentous occasion than it does. I think we're all just kind of fatigued. Morale isn't what it once was. And that's a shame, because we put a lot of hard work into getting here, and we ought to feel damn proud of that. I'm sure we do, really. It's in there somewhere, behind all the exhaustion.

[Next post: sol 625, October 6.]

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