OT: Spirit update

The following is a summary of my notes from a Spirit rover update teleconference today. I hope it is of interest to some of you. For
those with snide comments, please take them to the next thread down the hall, as I'm not in the mood.
David Erbas-White
notes from teleconference.:
Here are some items of information from Spirit rover update teleconference with JPL this afternoon. The information was provided directly by Dr. Mark Adler, Spirit mission manager, who fully answered all questions posed by those present.
Please be aware that the following is from my notes, and may not be complete. If you have further questions on Spirit, pose them, as they may jog my memory further (<G>).
Sol 20 (Martian day 20) has been completed with Spirit, and many positive steps were made. JPL tried to establish communication with the rover and query it for its 'health' status, and this succeeded. The 'status frame' is a few thousand bits of information, that were transmitted via the low-gain antenna to earth, and were repeated over a twenty-minute period. The bit rate for this transfer is 120 bits per second.
This is not full health status, but a partial status, as they don't want to do too much until more diagnostic work is done. It is expected that about 73 megabits of information (containing much more in-depth health status) has been transmitted to Mars Odyssey, which will retransmit the information to earth. Some of this information has already been received, and it is being evaluated.
JPL does not currently have complete control of the vehicle. It is apparent (this is an assumption) that the rover has been continuously on for the last few days, which has led to a very rapid depletion of the batteries. They have been so far unsuccessful in getting the rover to 'sleep' so that it can conserve battery power. It is estimated that IF the present drain rate continues, there is 3-4 days of power left, HOWEVER there are positive indications that show that they are getting slightly more control over this problem, and all efforts are being made to proceed.
The rover goes completely to sleep 3-4 times each 'sol', and does a cold-boot each time it wakes up (not a warm boot). What is currently happening appears to be that during the power-down sequence, something is going wrong, and the system resets itself during that power-down sequence, so it is in somewhat of an endless loop. There is some amount of 'watchdog timer' circuitry in place, so it is not a completely continuous reboot/reset sequence, but it does this at intervals. At last report, they were able to get somewhat farther in the shutdown sequence than had previously been done, so they ARE making progress at solving the problems.
The major concern at this point is that they must maintain some battery power in order to keep the heaters running during the Martian night. The heaters prevent certain critical elements from getting too cold, which will cause failure of the vehicle. There is little to no redundancy in many of these areas, and it is unknown as to whether or not the rover would experience critical failure after (for example) the first night without the heaters, or whether this would occur over subsequent days. Thus, the major thrust is to find and fix the problem before battery drain becomes critical.
The upcoming landing of Opportunity presents a problem for the team in that there are both human and equipment logistical problems, such as communications, etc. The team will be switching priorities to Opportunity to assure a safe landing, then will get it as quickly as possible into a 'safe' mode and shut it down, and then switch priority back to Spirit. This is because of the (remote) possibility that the problem in Spirit is systemic, so that if it might affect Opportunity, they want to fix it on Spirit before any problems arise on Opportunity.
At this time Opportunity is fully on target, no further trajectory corrections are anticipated, but it has been programmed to open its chute at a slightly lower altitude than Spirit due to data returned during Spirit's entry into the Mars atmosphere.
The Mars Odyssey spacecraft has been re-programmed to NOT contact Spirit at this time (as it normally would) because this action would 'wake up' Spirit if they manage to get it to sleep, and they need to fully charge the batteries before resuming normal operations.
The high-gain antenna appears to be working properly, and it is not seen as any source of the current problems with Spirit. The initial current anomalies that were measured appear to be due to contaminants (most likely Martian dust) in certain areas of the mechanism, that cleared up after first run-through of full operational travel. At this point in time there is no anticipation of problems with the high-gain antenna itself, but until the power issues are resolved, it will not be used (due to power required for the antenna to track Earth).
There does not appear to be ANY correlation with the problems to the past coronal mass ejection event, and Opportunity did not appear to be affected either. The computers on board the rover are not expected to be affected by any static discharge in the Martian soil, as they are very well isolated in their own Faraday cage in the rover.
It is not currently known if the problem with powering-down the rover is hardware or software related, the anomaly team is seeking to resolve this issue.
It is not anticipated that winds at the site are any problem for the rover. The landing site can reach peak winds of 50 MPH, but has been generally in the 20-30 MPH range since landing. Even winds of 100-200MPH would not be an issue for the rover because of the much lower pressure of the Martian atmosphere.
Although there has been a great deal of information gathered by the rover, and the science team has reams of data to go through, at this point they have not reached mission success objectives, so all efforts are being put forth to revive/repair the rover.
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On Fri, 23 Jan 2004 15:12:35 -0800, David Erbas-White

Thanks much for your information David! It's nice to have an "insider" giving us tech-folk a bit more information than the mass media has been giving to the general public.
Please continue...
I know *I'm* interested, and I'm sure NASA will come around with a good solution..
tah
--
Tod A. Hilty
Hilty Information Systems
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wrote:

Ditto me too, David. I appreciate your effort greatly.
Sincerly, Steve Bloom
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default wrote:

Ditto me too also.
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Absolutly!
Please.
I think most of us here are VERY interested. Thanks for the posts!
Randy
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Thanks for the updates on the mission; I appreciate it!
--
Mike KD7PVT
NAR #70953 - Sr/HPR Level-1 ~ SeaNAR - The Seattle NAR Section #568
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David Erbas-White wrote:
<about Spirit's status>
Thanks, David. Your updates and info are appreciated.
--
Gary Bolles
NAR 82636
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David Erbas-White wrote:

I agree with the others; your summarizations are very interesting. It's nice to have the actual info, as opposed to having what the media mangles it into.
-Kevin
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Higher, not lower.
(Due to a slower-than-anticipated reel-out from the backshell on Spirit.)
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BB wrote:

Sorry, screw-up in transcribing my notes (I can't even read my own writing...).
David Erbas-White
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Hey, not complaining - great status updates and I (among others) really appreciate it.
I am planning on another late night tonight, tuned to NASA TV, for Opportunity's landing.
Go MER Team!
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David Erbas-White wrote:

I promise to hold the snide remarks in the future if you do the same.. (;-) BTW, thanks for the update on Spirit..
Fred
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Maybe they forgot to run Windows Update before blastoff. ;-)
-- Joe Michel NAR 82797 L1 http://home.alltel.net/jm44316 /

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David, thanks for posting this info! It's much more detailed and informative than anything I've seen in the media so far.
Question: If the Rover's batteries do run down before they can get it to "sleep", will it then be "dead", or is there still any hope for getting it back online and working again? I know they mentioned the need to keep certain components warm -- do you know if this refers to the Rover itself, or is it things like the soil-testing instruments?
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RayDunakin wrote:

That was actually covered in some detail, but the bottom line is that if it has to go through a Martian night without the heaters all bets are off (in the sense that it will be a fairly cataclysmic event). The rover is programmed to 'try' to go to sleep, and the batteries will be recharged by the solar panels during daylight, but if it stays on during daylight, there won't be enough energy to keep the unit warm during the night. There are so many areas of the rover that will be 'probably' damaged by the night (without heating), that it is not expected that the rover would be recoverable after that point. That's why they're doing the utmost to get it to a powered-down state where it can 'safely' recharge, and keep the heaters on, as their number one priority.
If the unit 'dies' during the day, however, it is conceivable that the batteries might recharge sufficiently to 'restart' before it has gotten too cold at night -- but if it still has a problem with powering down to save energy, it is probable that this would merely prolong the rovers 'death' by a day or two.
Again, if I haven't been clear, the rover is programmed so that if at all possible it will attempt to restart itself, and it automatically charges the batteries whenever the solar cells allow it, but the likelihood of the electronics (and the mechanical portions, too) surviving through the Martian night for any extended length of time is very small.
David Erbas-White
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<< Again, if I haven't been clear, the rover is programmed so that if at all possible it will attempt to restart itself, and it automatically charges the batteries whenever the solar cells allow it, but the likelihood of the electronics (and the mechanical portions, too) surviving through the Martian night for any extended length of time is very small. >>
Thanks for the clarification!
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On Fri, 23 Jan 2004 15:12:35 -0800, David Erbas-White

David,
Thank you so much for posting that information. Compared to what you wrote, the information available from the media is drivel.
I hope you know that the vast majority of us here on r.m.r. appreciate what you've done.
Zooty
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I apologize to all for my snippiness earlier. I've been suffering through a minor migraine today (if it was major I wouldn't be typing), which has put me off my feed a bit.
David Erbas-White
zoot wrote:

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David Erbas-White wrote:

Cannabis in Migraine Treatment Study http://www.maps.org/mmj/mjrusso.html http://www.maps.org/mmj/0200cluster.html
I'm being perfectly serious
- iz
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Ismaeel Abdur-Rasheed wrote:

Ah, it helps relieve that too? Wow! (I already knew it had been reported to do some good in at least some cases of asthma and glaucoma....)
-dave w
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