Spirit Sol 666

Sol 666: the sol of the Beast. It's a real shame this didn't happen to be Halloween. Maybe thisol should be Martian Halloween.

If there's a Beast involved, he's being awfully good to us. Yestersol's drive went just as expected, a 42m drive -- not much farther than the previous sol, but in a shorter time, thanks to (ahem) remembering to turn on step-skipping during the autonav segment.

Other things are looking up, as well. Our flash volume and data-product count are both still high, but dropping, like the late stages of a Flash Flu. We still need to exercise some restraint; SOWG chair Wendy Calvin proposes alternating atmospheric science sols and geological science sols as a way to reduce flash pressure. Driving is the thing we won't cut -- at least, not entirely, though we do end up shortening the duration once again thisol -- since we have a definite goal and need to make continual progress. The sun is tracking northward in the sky once more, and it isn't going to wait for our little rover, no matter how much she needs and deserves it to.

Yestersol's drive left us about 40m from a small ridge, over which we can just barely see the current science goal (a pile of jumbly black stuff creatively named "Waypoint"). It's 150m away -- we had been thinking it was somewhat closer -- and with a clear, blind-drive-safe 35m to the ridge, we could have made 80m of progress if given three hours to drive (autonav willing). As it is, they cut the drive back to include only the blind part, and maybe a few meters of autonav. We'll make only 40 to 45m.

There's a lot of difference between those two numbers. But if that's all we can afford, that's what we'll do.

[Next post: sol 668 (Opportunity sol 649), November 19.]

Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech. The creatively named "Waypoint."

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