Sunday, May 25, 2008

A Few More Hours Later

We've got some of the data back from our imager. There's a white smudge in it, but we're not sure that's the lander. We're still looking, and still waiting for the rest of the image to show up (it's a 0.6 gigabyte image!). The lander spit out it's parachute 7 seconds late, which would've put the parachute deployment about 5 seconds into the image (by my calculations), if it's in the image at all. This means if the lander passed through the imager's CCDs before the parachute was deployed, we'd see a single white smudge. If it passed through after the parachute deployed, we should see two white smudges.

Again, we're not quite sure what we've got. By the time the experts figure it out, I'll probably be asleep, and it will be splashed all over the news in the morning (if we got something good).

As it is, Phoenix appears to be healthy and happy on the ground. It is sitting above the Martian arctic circle, so the race begins to complete it's mission before it goes into "permanent" shadow in five-ish months, and is buried in carbon dioxide ice that snows out of the atmosphere.

The poor people working on the project will be living on "Mars time" (roughly half an hour longer than a normal Earth day), shifting their work schedule daily to try to take advantage of every day on Mars (which we call a "Sol").

The press conference is ongoing right now. They've given a happy shout-out to MRO, as we are intending to image the landing site as soon as we possibly can. It should be interesting to see where they really are on Mars. Pretty exciting!

For me, I've got a meeting to go to in a half hour where we expect to hear if we will be allowed to overwrite the EDL data onboard in favor of additional overflights, the first of which is in a few hours. I had hoped we would have the HiRISE image to show in that meeting, but it's not to be, I don't think. All Phoenix data is flowing through our system just fine, and things are looking good. We've got some people running around right now trying to update the coordinates for the landing site (since they're way off from where they estimated) for our first image in about 6 hours ... should be good!


Denis said...

Saw the HiRISE image of the deployed parachute at the press conference - UNBELIEVABLE and INCREDIBLE! What a shot! Sounds like some more enhancement to do on it?

Roy said...

It might be as good as it gets. We're just very, very lucky to have gotten the image at all. Hopefully we can get some really good press out of that, since me and the team pushed really hard to try for it. It's well-worth it, I think -- a real first!

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