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46 days to go!

by Patrick Woida

April 09, 2008 -
The landing now is in the scale of weeks to go. Here there is a constant buzz of activity. Some of the team members not from Tucson have now joined us regularily.

Testing continues, throngs come through Science Operations on tours. Many waiting empty chairs are now filling. This week our 120° panoramic screen went up 4 meters tall. Soon we'll have our last Operational Readiness Test at the end of the month. This is our "dress rehearsal" of the first few days on Mars. The last milestone until our operations on Mars starts.

The mood here is more excitement and optimism than apprehension and concern. There is a focus to effort and calm execution. It would not be hard to imagine scrambling here as we near the destination on the surface of Mars. No, our people are prepared. It's hard to find words to convey how proud I am to be part of this extraordinary team of innovative and dedicated people.

The anticipation is building. There is no question this is a challange. Mars is the place where our reach is at the edge of our grasp. Sometimes we get our fingers on it, sometimes not.

I feel this is one time the planet will not defeat us and I find myself laying out my schedule for the 120 Sols (noon to noon on Mars) to follow the 24.6 hour days we will live on for 3 months or more. The prime mission is only 90 Sols, but I have my eye on the horizon.

My position puts me in the role to be the first one to see the images from another world. What a privilege!  Of course I'll be getting those pictures out to everyone else as soon as I can :-)  So we all wait for 46 more days until we're in the Martian Artic on Memorial Day Weekend.