View Full Version : MER press conference, March 11, 2004

2004-Mar-11, 06:05 PM
What's up with Opportunity? Will Spirit go into the depths or head for the hills? What will the Martians want for Elvis's brain this week? And what small furry critters will the scientists be wearing on their heads today? Stay tuned for all the answers, coming up soon.

Manchurian Taikonaut
2004-Mar-11, 06:15 PM
I think I see some illegal aliens over there!


Martian Mc lovin' it

2004-Mar-11, 06:19 PM
Mission manager Jennifer Trosper says the rover drivers are doing a good job of precision navigation with Opportunity. RAT problems on Opportunity fixed - Flat Rock has been RATted. A blueberry stopped the RATting (EDIT: temporarily, but that has been corrected).

Opportunity has gone 73 meters. Several more in-situ measurements, then off to Endurance crater.

Spirit: finished with Humphrey, took high-quality pancam images from there, still downloading. Spirit is 16 meters from edge of crater, 11 degrees pitched up, 82 degree heading. Move to edge today, take pancam images, decide where to go - to go in or not. Spirit has gone 335 meters. East Hills (eventual destination) are 2.5 km away.

Does anyone know if she's single? ;)

2004-Mar-11, 06:24 PM
Rover driver - didn't catch name. Not wearing a furry animal, just looks as if he stuck his finger in a light socket.

Talking about getting from before Laguna Hollow and Humphrey to Bonneville. Blind driving (just go), auto-nav, stutter-stepping (go blind about a meter but stop if there are any concerns).

Wanted to get within a 2-inch position of Humphrey: would normally have taken two days, but squeezed in an observe-drive session into the end of one day.

Should have a "really good view" tomorrow.

Think I saw a ring on Jennifer's left finger. :(

2004-Mar-11, 06:27 PM
Matt Golombek - science team member. Use crater to see what's underneath us. Showing panorama - can see parachute backshell off to left, heat shield on far side of crater. Objective: continue along to edge toward east, eventually head to hills. Will definitely spend several sols imaging crater from edge. Will obtain series of large panoramas.

2004-Mar-11, 06:31 PM
She's married

2004-Mar-11, 06:34 PM
Another science team member, talking about doing astronomy from Mars.

Cool! Spirit took a photo of the constellation Orion!

Will mostly be using these observations to see density, dustiness of atmosphere.

Also took some star trail images.

Spirit took dawn image that shows the Earth - first image of Earth from surface of another planet. (Didn't they do this before, though?)

Saw streak in night sky - could have been meteor or even a spacecraft (possibly Viking Orbiter 2).

Showing little movie of Deimos transit. And now one of Phobos transit. Uncertainty in Phobos position of 10 km - fixing position will allow Mars Express to take very high-resolution images.

2004-Mar-11, 06:40 PM
Mini-TES scientist: map of Opportunity crater showing amount of hematite around. Floor of crater has almost no hematite, outcrop has a little, outside the crater has lots. Some real hematite "mother loads" next to crater. Crater "punched through" hematite, now being slowly refilled.

Haven't really sampled much hematite yet.

Infrared spectra: seeing sulfates, silicates, and iron oxides (hematite).

MGS TES and Opportunity mini-TES looked at same slice of atmosphere at same time, one looking down, other looking up. Good agreement on results

2004-Mar-11, 06:44 PM
Another mini-TES scientist. Mini-TES's greater sensitivity is providing significant additional information.

Being able to watch clouds and atmosphere on a daily basis is a very good thing.

She's married

As well she should be! ;)

Question time....

2004-Mar-11, 06:55 PM

My precious......

2004-Mar-11, 07:00 PM
Mission manager Jennifer Trosper says the rover drivers are doing a good job of precision navigation with Opportunity. RAT problems on Opportunity fixed - Flat Rock has been RATted. A blueberry stopped the RATting.
Man, that's must be one stale blueberry! Seriously, can they guess-to-mate the hardness of the blueberry based on that fact?

2004-Mar-11, 07:04 PM
Another science team member, talking about doing astronomy from Mars.

Cool! Spirit took a photo of the constellation Orion!

Why do I fear the WooWoo's will use this in the Apollo Hoax / no stars in lunar pictures debate as proof that we would see stars and therefor we didn't land on the moon. :-?

By the way, Thanks ToSeek for the play-by-play.

2004-Mar-11, 07:09 PM
No more news regarding water at Meridiani, though they're "working very hard" to learn more.

No, the rover driver does not use a joystick. Build 10-12 hours of commands, send them up, see what happens.

Not a lot of excitement about crater? Worrying about short-term - next day's activities. Don't see any obvious layers - same stuff at upper levels that they've been driving over. "Mixed-up regolith of 20-30 meters" with basalt and some other materials. No discussion yet on whether to go down.

Not designed to do astronomy but knew we could. Will decide what capabilities are (what stars can be seen), then try imaging to see what can learn about dust and clouds.

Lucky to be so close to outcrop at Meridiani? Maybe all Meridiani craters have outcrops. Pancam may show more detail of Bonneville - too soon to come to final conclusions.

Opportunity still has 10-12 days of experiments to do inside crater before driving out.

Activities at nighttime? Rovers usually wake up 2x/night when MGS or Odyssey fly overhead. Can warm up cameras at same time. Pre-pointed cameras ahead of time, but heating up actuators is still significant cost - can't do it much or often.

Looking at loading new flight software some time after March 26, will help with malfunctioning Opportunity heater.

What looking for in crater? Darker surfaces below rubble at top. Aeolian bed forms at bottom. Take full panorama in color of both crater and East Hills. Do a mini-TES "panorama" as well. We just got here, and it's going to take several sols to "get our arms around it."

When to make decision to go into crater, what basis? Looking for water - will go in if we think we'll learn something, if stuff inside crater is different from stuff outside. Will spend 1-2 weeks in vicinity of Bonneville, even if only on rim.

Priority right now is collecting data rather than answering questions - plenty of time to do latter later.

That's all, folks! Press briefing will be replayed immediately after this.

Next press conference same time next week.

2004-Mar-11, 07:13 PM
They're replaying the images now - there's a sequence with Phobos going right across the middle of the Sun that I hadn't seen before.

2004-Mar-12, 12:13 AM
Press release images for Spirit (http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/gallery/press/spirit/20040311a.html) and Opportunity (http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/gallery/press/opportunity/20040311a.html)