Sunday, July 29, 2012

Getting Ready...

I'm starting to shift my schedule to prepare for Curiosity's landing.  I am Long Term Planner for the first 4 sols (martian days), which requires that I work from about midnight to 10 am four days in a row, starting Monday morning, August 6.  I have a plan to shift my sleep schedule an hour or two later every day.  Tonight, my goal is to stay up until 3 am and sleep until 11 am.  Last night, 2 am was fine.  Tonight, it's 12:30 am, and I'm having trouble staying awake...  It's one thing to do it one day; it's another to shift to a night schedule for several days - but people do it all the time when assigned to the "graveyard shift".  Now it's my turn...

One advantage of being up late is that other mission people are, too.  I just got an e-mail update on Curiosity's cruise, which led me to this press release:  Curiosity's Daily Update  Curiosity's last course correction maneuver was successful, and we are on track for an excellent landing!

By the way, I did an interview with BBC radio, which will be part of their radio show Discovery to air August 6th if the landing is successful.  It was fun and interesting to talk about the science we can do with Curiosity.  Each little thing like this makes the mission seem more real, and it will be in 8 days minus 2 hours!

The "Thermal Inertia" of the landing ellipse in Gale Crater.  Thermal inertia is related to how much heat a substance absorbs.  Denser rocks have a higher thermal inertia than loose sand.  The red areas probably have hard rock.  The light blue band running through the east of the ellipse shows the location of sand dunes.  Image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech.

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