Sunday, September 30, 2007

It's All Geek to Me

As a hometown Pasadena native, I have to express the thrill I get from hearing about the progress of one of the Mars rovers into the Victoria Crater, which I actually saw during a JPL family tour. I've also spoken before about the rhetorical prowess of JPL managers when working with electronic media, which makes other government spokespeople look pretty incompetent in comparison. I love the fact that even with prose like this, their websites have loyal readerships.

The first of two alpha particle X-ray spectrometer integrations was received on the ground today and the initial analysis shows little to no dust contamination. Argon peaks are just as large as before, but additional integrations are necessary to complete the analysis. In the meantime, the team modified the robotic arm ready position to face the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer in towards the vehicle's warm electronics box. The hope is that this will prevent any dust from collecting inside.

Some of the Rovers' popularity can be explained by NASA's smart use of digital video early in the mission, which should have become a model to be emulated by other federal agencies. Currently I'm fond of the Flight Director Updates on the site, although the guys from mission control look to be the age of many of my students.

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