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PSIP ... Sol 42 on Mars!

by PSIP

July 08, 2008 -
Today we arrived at the operations center in time for the 7:00 p.m. kickoff meeting, ready to start our day. We watched as the different groups of scientists struggled to ensure that all of the high priority tests can be fit into the schedule, a task that is often quite difficult. Sometimes when there is a limited amount of time or power available in a single day or at any given point, tasks have to be lowered in priority and pushed to a later date. In a world where the sun will soon be hidden from view for months on end, time is of the essence.

Throughout the day we sat in on many of their meetings, listening as they uttered acronym after acronym that we are only slightly better at deciphering than we were yesterday. It's amazing that they get so much work done considering all of the meetings that there are throughout the day. But, unfailingly, new knowledge is presented at each meeting, even though it is often only a few minutes from one to the next.

The Dallas team had meetings with their mentor, Dr. John Hoffman, about how information that is collected from Phoenix is presented to the scientists, and also about what it is like to have to revise schedules based on fluctuating levels of task priority. While they did that, the Tucson team started work on a project examining recent data collected by MECA concerning the composition of the Martian soil, as well as creating a video showing the structure of Martian soil, scaling down from planet-sized images to a microscopic level. As we wind down our day at the operations center, it is almost 2:00 a.m., and, amazingly, we are just barely starting to feel it. Guess we've started to adapt to "Mars time." Hope you are all enjoying your sleep!

Love & Rockets,
Your friendly neighborhood PSIP teams from Lake Highlands High School (Dallas, TX) and Empire High School (Tucson, AZ)


The Dallas, TX team stands with their scientist mentor, Dr. John Hoffman, and the lander model.