Sorry this is late - it's really annoying when work interferes with UMSF!
To make it up to you guys, I went from 4:00 up to Slinted's start time, so now we've got the transcription of the first interview done.
Pancam update 1, Jan 26
DE: Spirit's currently doing a lot of driving, whereas Opportunity's kind of doing a lot of the opposite. The two situations, how do they differ in terms of imaging planning? When Spirit's driving can you pluck out sequences from a library for end-of-driving sequences or is it more complicated than that?
JB: Yeah, actually it's a very interesting comparison right now. They're almost exact opposite situations. With Spirit, we need to get through the Inner Basin to Home Plate and up to a north-facing slope pretty quickly, because we just passed the fall equinox, of course, in the south, and we’re heading towards winter, and the power is dropping-dropping-dropping. So we can’t linger in south-facing slopes or even flat places. So we’re kind of racing the clock to try to get over to Home Plate, which everybody’s very excited about, we don’t really know what that is, but we’re gonna be there soon. And we’re passing lots of juicy rocks and ridges and outcrops and we’re trying to do the best job we can of doing some basic characterization of them with the cameras, with the Mini-TES Spectrometer, taking color pictures, infrared spectra, making whatever measurements we can in our traverse that minimize the time taken out of the drive. We’ve just been flying across the terrain as quickly as possible, trying to get to our next juicy target zone.
Whereas on the other side of the planet, Meridiani, it’s the flip side. We’ve been forced to sit in one spot because of the problems with the shoulder joint on Opportunity’s arm. We’ve been understandably trying to be very patient, the science team very patient with the engineering team, because they need to do their job well, of diagnosing what’s happening with the shoulder joint, how to use it in its new configuration, and how to address these issues of driving with the shoulder joint either deployed or stowed, those decisions are still being discussed, exactly how to do that. And all the time, while these discussions and simulations with the test rover and modeling go on, those all take time, we’ve been at this one spot. And so we’ve been taking enormous panoramas, we took the 360 degree panorama in all the filters, the first time we’ve been able to do that. We’ve been doing high spatial resolution, what we call super-rez, monitoring of a bunch of what turn out to be very interesting rocks all around us. It’s been a spectacular place to get stuck if you have to get stuck.
DE: A whole range of things you might never have noticed had you not got stuck
JB: Absolutely, absolutely right. And because we had this extra time, it’s been sort of a bonus to use some of the capabilities of the cameras that we don’t often get to use, like the super-rez capability. And so we’ve been shooting targets all around us, we took a large stereo panorama all the way around the rover in lossless, without any loss of information in compression, using the blue filters. And that’s a wonderful product for the sedimentologists and the morphologists who are looking at these rocks in great detail.
But what’s happened is that we’ve been at this spot for so long, and believe me it’s frustrating for the science team, but we have to let the engineering folks do their job and make sure that the health of the rover comes first. But we’ve been sitting at this spot for so long that we’re literally running out of things to do with the cameras, it’s almost like we’ve been a lander mission, and nobody ever really wanted to be a lander mission, and luckily we were able to do this little bump a few days ago and move to a spot where we can get the microscope down onto some of these juicy targets. We’ll be doing some more of that over the coming days, perhaps even longer, it just depends on what we see. But a lot of people are antsy to get back on the road to Victoria.
DE: It seems the longer Opportunity sits still, the further away Victoria seems.
JB: [laughs] It only seems that way, but yes.
DE: We’ve got quite a few questions submitted. A guy called edstrick has asked about the different combinations of filters you use. Most sequences for color pancam imaging tend to be L257 or L256.
DE: And some with a photometry label get done in 247. What are the differences between them and how do you pick which set of three is most appropriate for a particular situation?
JB: I would say 257 is our most common combination, mostly because 2 and 7 give us the widest range of wavelength coverage, and 5 gives us a point in the middle, that also happens to be green, that we can use along with 2 and 7 to make these approximate true color renderings, or these garish false-color renderings that we often release onto the website. Primarily, that’s sort of our tactical, “you’ve got the least amount of bits to spend, but you want to cover the most amount of wavelength”, left-eye filter set. You know pancam can see into the infrared farther than human eyes and into the ultraviolet deeper than human eyes can. And we try to exploit that capability because it gives us sensitivity to different kinds of iron bearing rocks, iron bearing minerals, so spanning the most wavelength gets us the greatest sensitivity to color variations...
EDIT: Corrected spelling of edstrick's user ID. Must remember: edSTRICK, tedSTRYK