Spirit Sol 769

Next week, Spirit goes back into restricted sols. This time it's not because of the Earth-Mars time difference, it's because MRO has its MOI (Mars Orbit Insertion), and their radio's on the same frequency as ours. But whatever the reason, we've got to do a couple of multi-sol plans in a row in order to get ahead of the game. Today we're doing a two-sol plan, tomorrow a three-sol.

Yestersol's drive put us right where we were supposed to be, though as usual there's a twist. The slabs we were told were the most important science targets are out, and the rock we were told to get in the work volume if we could is in. We don't have a whole lot of IDD coverage on it, but we have enough. So the idea is to do IDD work in today's plan and do IDD + driving in tomorrow's. But some of the science team wants to push off the driving even later, not getting back on the road until next week. I think this is a terrible idea, and I show up at the pre-plan to state my opinion.

Saina goes first, running through a presentation in which she demonstrates that we're not actually ahead of our drive metric, but slightly behind. ("Are we ahead of our drive metric?" the first slide asks proleptically. Under it, in huge red capital letters, she answers her own question: "NO!") As bluntly as she can, she points out that our power situation is bad, it's getting worse, and we either move, now, or die. Then it's my turn.

"Saina's an optimist," I begin. "We don't know what's ahead of us, but from what we can see, the terrain gets worse. What's more, past performance is no guarantee of future results; we've made good progress on the stuff we've been over, but there's no reason to think that's going to continue. When we've got clear terrain between us and McCool Hill and we're ahead of schedule -- that's the time to stop and do science. This is not that time."

I turn to the other rover drivers sitting behind me. "Anything you guys want to add to that?" John (who had yelled out "Amen" at one point), Ashley, Antonio, and Terry just grin and shake their heads. "I think that about covers it," John says.

[Next post: sol 771, March 5.]

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