Spirit Sol 642

Spirit saw no safe path, so she gave up after only about 14m. Happily, this is mainly due to the conservative autonav settings; the new images reveal a perfectly safe path straight to the lip, now about 20m away.

But between us and the lip is an enormous patch of outcrop, and it might just be too shiny for the science team to ignore. They're going into restricted sols next week, so if we stop to IDD this outcrop, we're going to end up spending the whole week at it. That's a big time investment, considering that the sun's gradual southward motion means we now have a deadline to get to south-facing slopes.

"RPs, whaddaya think?" Steve asks.

"It's a science mission," I answer. "You know the constraints as well as anyone. If this is important for science, then let's delay going to the lip."

And that's what we do. So the drive itself turns out to be pretty easy, just a gentle 6.7m descent to a big outcrop patch. I have a bad feeling about it, just the same. Something about it reminds me of the hell that was Mazatzal: a big time investment in a highly important science target, a low rock just 7m away, and I think it's easy ... and I came in after that drive to find out we didn't really hit our target, and I felt miserable for a week. (And I still feel that way about it, in case you can't tell.) So I check and recheck, and if I made a mistake thisol, it won't be because I didn't try to learn the lesson.

The rock itself is named "Kansas." This is continuing the practice of naming stuff in this area in honor of Larry Haskin, who apparently was a well-liked friend and well-respected colleague to many on the science team (and who is, sadly, now deceased). Apparently, he had a farm in Kansas, and targets on the rock will be named after towns near his farm.

Me, I'm just excited because when we drive away, we'll get to say that we don't think we're in Kansas any more.

[Next post: sol 645, October 26.]

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