Today we're planning two sols, 660 and 661. Spirit finds herself poised before an enticing chunk of outcrop called "Larry's Bench," and the question on the science team's mind is whether we want to IDD the part we can reach, or reposition the rover to IDD another part, just to the right.
At first, this seems like a silly question to me. How can this bit of outcrop be so much different from a chunk of the same stuff, a few centimeters away, that it's worth spending even one sol to reach the other bit? (Indeed, it would end up being two sols; VEX needs at least one of our uplinks.)
The answer, it turns out, is dust. The stuff in front of us is pretty dusty, and there's no very good surface to RAT-brush it. But the competing section is already less dusty and has a broader and flatter surface that may be more amenable to brushing.
But maybe we can brush the part in front of us ... and so the discussion goes on, and on, and on. The SOWG meeting, which we normally try to finish in under an hour, goes to an hour and a half. And a good chunk of it is spent going in circles, at that. Alicia Falacarro -- now Alicia Vaughan -- can't stand it when the meetings go this way. She looks at me, rolls her eyes, and groans, "Definitely the J.V. team today."
But the answer in the end is that we're going to IDD, not drive, and the IDD work is reasonably straightforward. (Ed Guinness names the IDD target "Thrasher" -- "since that's what we did in this meeting.") Indeed, Ashitey does most of it. It's your standard unstow, MB touch, MI-2x2x5+stereo, MB re-touch, RAT-brush, post-brush MI-2x2x5+stereo, MB re-touch, APXS kind of sol. Oh, and then another change-tool back to MB on the following sol.
Matt Heverly is shadowing me today, so I take the time to walk him carefully through the whole sequence and talk over his questions in detail. The price of this attention, of course, is that I put him on the hook to do the walkthrough at the CAM. And a good job he does of it, too.
Sol 661. Sol six hundred and sixty-one. Unfathomable. It's almost a Martian year -- a Martian year being 669.7 sols. They're going to celebrate it in von Karman next week.
Six hundred. And sixty-one.
[Next post: sol 662, November 13.]
Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech. Larry's Bench, right between our wheels.