Monday, March 11, 2013

Virtual Curiosity

We have a CAD model of Curiosity in KeckCAVES!

The University of California Office of the President, otherwise known as UCOP, has a PR campaign called Onward California.  They have "stories" about faculty members that are professionally filmed by The Department of the Fourth Dimension.  I am the focus on one of their 2013 stories, and two videos were recently released with me in the KeckCAVES with Curiosity, Earth, and Mars.

This is the "official" Onward California release:

And here is the one with lots of Curiosity:

Oliver Kreylos blogged about the filming of these videos - he was a great help as always!  His blog and YouTube channel are great places to go for the latest in useful virtual reality.  

JPL is the place to go for information on Curiosity.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Our First Problem...

We've been on the surface of Mars with Curiosity for over 6 months, and nothing serious had gone wrong - until Tuesday night.  We got part of our data down for planning on Wednesday - when I started my shift as Long Term Planner.  Then we got errors.  The science team continued with planning in case the problem was with the communications, e.g. the links getting data from Curiosity to us.  The engineering team scrambled to figure out what was wrong.  By the end of Wednesday, they realized that Curiosity had not gone to sleep for its nap.  That is equivalent to the "spinning wheel of death" we all hate to see on our computer screens. 

There is, of course, a JPL Press Release and National Geographic has a nice summary with more engineering explanations from Richard Cook (Project Manager) and Madgy Bareh (JPL Engineer).  Madgy is leading the "tactical" recovery efforts, which includes getting all the necessary settings into RCE-B.  There is also a team working to reconstruct what went wrong and whether or not RCE-A can be used in the future. 

It's been a very stressful few days, but we still have a working rover on the red planet!  (Actually 2 - Opportunity is still going strong, too).

I'm still on duty at Long Term Planner through Saturday.  My main job right now is to help the science team regroup on our plans for the next few weeks.  As one team member said, "It's time to brush off our patience."