Saturday, September 22, 2012

Curiosity Scarecrow Rover

Yesterday, the shuttle Endeavor was delivered to LA.  It flew over a number of key areas in the state, including the Golden Gate Bridge, NASA Ames, Disneyland, and JPL.  Needless to say, many people at JPL wanted to see it.  We piled out of our meetings and chose a place with a good view of the sky.  Since JPL is built on the Sierra Madre Fault scarp, everywhere that isn't behind a tall building has a good view.  I chose to go to the Mars Yard - the place the rover drivers test the mobility of the "scarecrow" rover.  When the rover Opportunity got stuck in the sand on Mars, this is where the rover drivers spent a month studying how many wheel turns would be needed to get her unstuck - and it worked!

The Curiosity Scarecrow consists of the same suspension system as the real rover, but lacks all of the instruments.  One of the rover drivers decided that Curiosity Scarecrow also wanted to watch the shuttle fly over.  Thus, he drove her out, over some rocks, and into the center of the yard.  I took some good video of the rover and posted a cut version here:  

It was great to see the Curiosity Scarecrow creeping around - and going over some very interesting obstacles!

(My video and photos of the shuttle flyover aren't worth posting.)

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