Spirit Sol 692

The drive went well. Spirit hit a limit cycle check -- she wasn't making progress fast enough, so she stopped driving after the first autonav waypoint -- but she still made a respectable 30m of progress. We're far enough around Miami (which looks even more impressive from here, as we've descended about 3m) to see Comanche from the other side.

And the news from here is not so bad. Rather than a shallow ramp all the way to the valley floor, it looks like we've still got a ridge to cross, but we've got a decent path to it, at least. And no time pressure -- today's Spirit's skip day, so Frank and Jeng and Ashley and I are planning the drive a day ahead. Frank and Jeng are as experienced at rover driving as they come, but they spend all their time on Opportunity, so we're avoiding making them plan a drive on an unfamiliar rover on a tight schedule, which is what would happen if they waited until tomorrow.

It's a good opportunity for me to revisit what's different between the vehicles. Frank actually has to ask what's the height of obstacles we're worried about -- after all, they never see anything that big on the other side of the world. "When we see a rock over there, they want us to drive onto it," he points out. And he's quite right: for months, the only rocks Opportunity's seen have been either tiny cobbles or, more commonly, flat outcrop patches that make for good driving.

Well, they showed up for an interesting drive. We've got several actual obstacles to avoid, so we'll have a visodom segment at the beginning to help navigate around them, then a short blind drive through a friendly patch, then autonav from there. I don't think we'll quite make it, but if we get really lucky, we'll make it to the ridge and have a spectacular view of the valley beyond. (And an equally good view of whatever we're going to have to cross to get down there.) If that doesn't happen this drive, it'll happen on the next one. And since I'm working on Spirit for the rest of the year, while they continue to investigate Opportunity's IDD problem, I'll be sure to see it.

I can't wait!

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