View Full Version : MER press conference 2004-04-08

2004-Apr-08, 05:18 PM
I'm having a heck of a time with my Internet connection, but I'll try to put in what I can. Before the last hangup Jennifer Prosper was talking about all the improvements they've made to their processes to streamline things. (Spirit is now on its extended mission, so they've had to cut back.)

Scientists are taking a break while the new FSW is uploaded.

Now showing the little hollows that Opportunity is looking at.

Spirit's accomplishments: completed primary mission.

Mission success:
- launch 2 s/c
- 360 panoramas
- 1 RAT (actually 11 just for Spirit)
- simultaneous operations for 30 sols
- 600 meter travel by 1 rover

Spirit's "warranty is up."

Video: if Spirit's life passed in front if its eyes. "90 sols in 90 seconds." Pretty cool: forward hazcam movie with stills from the micro-imager. Humphrey has a big part!

"Expect to be at the Hills shortly." Sounds like they should be able to do about 75 meters/day with the new FSW. "Shortly" is like 1-2 months, depending on how many interesting rocks they look at along the way.

Wish some of my project managers looked like her....

2004-Apr-08, 05:26 PM
Ray (Arvidson?) to talk about science. Showing map of Spirit's travels so far. Extended discussion of whether or not to go into Bonneville, decided not worth it. White rock found later was more interesting - looking at it right now with the Mossbauer. Will continuing looking with that and APXS as opportunity permits while FSW loads.

White rocks are interesting because they tend to indicate the presence of water, and the presence of water after being coated by the wind. So we're not talking water billions of years ago - comparatively recent water.

All soils Spirit has seen are crusty/clumpy, thinks may have to do with salts.

Team is eager to get to hills, should have tens of meters of outcrop.

Switching to Opportunity, showing image with current position. Looking at trench "Anatolia" (may have that wrong but it's some funky name like that). As of Sol 74, seem to be not quite a third of the way to Endurance crater but are not in a straight line there, a little to the north to look at trough. Want to look at outcrops to see how similar to what was seen in Eagle (original) crater.

Trough is probably a fracture - fracturing faster than wind can fill it in.

Q&A time.

2004-Apr-08, 05:39 PM
Question about September 13 date. I must have missed what prompted it. Apparently that's the scheduled end of the extended mission. Will apparently be in solar conjunction, can't communicate. But if can still communicate with rovers afterwards will propose another extended mission.

How risky is loading new flight software (FSW)? Pretty routine - done many times with rovers. Same people doing verification throughout (this is a very good thing - I know from personal experience).

Any conclusions on new outcrops? Looks a lot like what was in Eagle, but nothing definitive yet.

How will solar conjunction affect rovers? Conjunction will last 7-10 days, starts September 13. No communication from Earth with rovers in interval.

Why no rocks at Meridiani? 300 meters of fine-grained material has been deposited to bury them. Craters haven't punctured through much.

How did being on Mars time affect you? Jennifer: "The only thing I don't like about Earth time is the traffic." Ray: Easier to go back and forth between rovers on Earth time. Took 3-4 days to get adjusted. Real issue when it comes to MSL mission, which will be on Mars for month or years - human toll to great to stay on Mars time that long. Need experience managing operations on Earth time.

Loading new FSW: done from Earth (not through orbiters). Load all files -> Build all files -> Shut down and reboot. Spirit will transfer to new FSW on Monday, Opportunity on Wednesday.

2004-Apr-08, 05:52 PM
AAARRRRGHHHHHHHH I missed the briefing :o got my times zones mixed up. Thanks for posting this update. Do they re-play the breifings on NASA TV? http://www.c-span.org/ sometimes archive them.

2004-Apr-08, 06:42 PM
AAARRRRGHHHHHHHH I missed the briefing :o got my times zones mixed up. Thanks for posting this update. Do they re-play the breifings on NASA TV? http://www.c-span.org/ sometimes archive them.

Note that for next week the briefing is Wednesday afternoon at 2 EDT.

2004-Apr-08, 06:51 PM
For anyone who missed the briefing its up on C-SPAN now:


2004-Apr-08, 07:18 PM
Associated NASA press release (http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2004/apr/HQ_04122_rovers_extended.html)

2004-Apr-08, 10:15 PM
There are some archives of the press conferences to download here...


They don't seem to have the current briefing up yet, but maybe they will soon.

2004-Apr-09, 02:35 AM
Trough is probably a fracture - fracturing faster than wind can fill it in.

This caught my attention in the conference.

In other threads there was some speculation about why the depressions appeared to be in a line.

Too bad the rover can't dig down a dozen feet or so...

It would be interesting to see if there was some displacement on the fracture. Or if perhaps the water traveled through the fracture and dissolved material widening the fracture?

John Kierein
2004-Apr-09, 11:41 AM
I like the idea that the reason the depressions are in a line is that they are due to sun devil tracks. The sun devils "bounce" as they travel and pick up stuff from one place for a while leaving a depression in the sand. Then they move along in the direction of the wind.

Easily seen tracks from Mars orbit.

I can't believe the ASU site calls 'em "dust devils".


The ASU logo is Sun Devils.

But in England they call 'em "land devils".

I suppose they are called devils because the motion is rumored to call up the devil.