Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Late, Late Night

Here I am, finally finished with work tonight. It's been a nightmare. One of the giant 70-meter dishes that we use to talk to our spacecraft at Mars had a problem last night. Apparently some kind of seal broke and water flowed into one of the bearings, displacing the special oil that protects it. With such a giant antenna, a glitch like that can be extremely costly and slow to repair.

For the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, we actually were scheduled to transmit data back to Earth on that antenna every single day for at least the next two weeks. No longer. Today I built one command sequence that would prevent the spacecraft from transmitting data back to Earth during that time period this afternoon (it's pre-programmed). That sequence has already been sent to the spacecraft; and just now, I finished building another sequence that will allow us to transmit data down to some alternative antennas in the next two days.

It took me six hours to build these sequences. I'm pretty fast at my work, and the leader of my team that does this work, so the fact that it took me six hours of intensive labor is an indicator that this was really complex and difficult work. I don't even know if I got it right.

I'm just tired. I think I'll go to bed ... I have to get up in five hours ... and I have to do it again tomorrow ...

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