< Back to Blogs

Captain's (B)log, Sol 55


July 21, 2008 - Today the San Diego Team opened our suitcase to find the robotic arm we built back at our school.  We worked to put the arm together in the MECA lab at the Science Operations Center.  All was going well until we found that the transit system had decided to leave us with a parting gift: some of the rods got a little bent out of shape.  Luckily, this fix was not that hard. Once together and in good working condition, we tried to get some soil with it. The only problem was that the soil would slip from the claws right when we lifted it. It turned out ok, though, because we don't need to use the claw to pick up soil. The arm just needs to push the TECP (thermal and electrical conductivity probe) into the dirt... which led to our next task of figuring out a way to mount the TECP to our arm. We found an assembly area on the end of our arm, right next to our claw.

Today the Anthem, Ariz., team had a great improvement and advancement working on our presentations and starting two new projects. Our current project includes a powerpoint with the images and information of all the Mars days or "sols."  Our other project includes using a HiRISE image and mapping out the surface features all around the Phoenix landing site.  Today, we also worked with graduate student Selby Cull to plan images for the SSI of the "Dodo" trench and possibly for the Robotic Arm Camera to capture an image of dust devils.  A couple hours after our shift, we went back to the Science Operations Center where we watched a presentation by mission Principal Investigator Peter Smith for Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano.  We even got to meet her and took a couple of photos!  This afternoon after our shift ended we relaxed, went to the pool, watched a movie, and played tennis. It was a busy yet fun day!

The San Diego team has mastered waking up early, with the help of many, many cans of Mountain Dew!  They have been fixing and progressing with their robotic arm.  The Anthem team has needed a few extra naps, but is progressing with their projects as well.  We are all anxious for tomorrow to make more progress on our projects and to learn more science.

As a sign-off, we'll share the following Phoenix haiku, written by friend-of-PSIP, Warren Dunham:

another sunrise
brings rusty dawning daylight
the rocks call my name

Your friendly neighborhood PSIP teams from Boulder Creek High School (Anthem, AZ) and SciTech High School (San Diego, CA)

The Anthem, AZ team continues comparative analyses of Phoenix SSI and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter HiRise images.