Reading the papers and talking about the results (MP3 interview on Insight) brings back interesting memories. Most of them are good. But it was also very hard to identify all of the things that had to be done before we could scoop and analyze the samples. I was intimately involved in that process, and fellow Long Term Planner (LTP), Sanjeev Gupta, captured me working with sol paths and contingencies in one of our daily meetings with the Strategic Uplink Lead (SUL Alicia) and Strategic Science Planner (SSP Greg).
|Long discussions often lead to better plans.
|White boards are essential!
I went through a similar process for Waypoint 1 / Darwin, but in that case, I was the Point of Contact for science planning. Thus, I did a lot of the planning even when I wasn't the LTP. It was great to have a LTP take care of the daily planning while I focused on other details. We'll likely use this approach going forward when we get to a place where we want to do intensive work. It gets easier each time.
When I started this mission, I had no idea what it takes to ask a rover on another planet to do science for you. I now have some idea, but every time I sit down with someone with different expertise than mine, I realize how much they know and contribute that I'd never dreamed of. For example, it took strategic planning plus three expert rover planners and me and instrument Payload Uplink Leads plus many others all day to plan the contact science for one day at Darwin. And that is using tools developed that week in response to need identified from our last contact science adventure. And... and... and... Each time we do this, we know more, we improve our approaches, we build better tools. I don't think it will ever be easy, though. We will always push for more; it seems to be in our natures.
What an amazing adventure to be exploring Mars with Curiosity!