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New PSIPers on Mars


July 27, 2008 -
Wow! Today was our first day and it was completely overwhelming but awesome! This morning all the PSIP teams for this week met up at the parking lot at 7:30 a.m. (grateful that our shift didn't start at four in the morning!). We had all gotten to know each other last night as we got set up in our PSIP apartments and got ready for our week. We arrived at the Science Operations Center (SOC) and soon realized it was important to pay attention to where we were going because the SOC looked like a labyrinth. Probably the best way to get to know your way around is by getting lost and then trying to figure out were you need to go. All the PSIP interns got awesome lanyards and badges that allow us to access the different meeting rooms and work areas. By this time, we were all really exited. We felt like VIPs!

We attended a brief overview of the mission and updates through sol 60 given by Dr. Doug Ming, who happens to be the mentor of the Cleveland, Texas, team. After that, we watched the kickoff meeting, then split up into our groups to get to work. Later we attended the midpoint meeting and then finally the last meeting planning the uplink and the next sol's operations.

Each team worked along with their scientist. The Pomona, Calif., team worked on a sol-by-sol summary presentation, documenting each sol's most important event by analyzing different images. Once we finish that up, we'll move on to a few other projects to help our mentors, Dr. Leslie Tamppari and Dr. Deborah Bass.  The Mountain View, Calif., team met with our mentor, Dr. Carol Stoker, and got our assignment for the week. We will be giving context to every RAC image taken from sol 50 to the present sol, and then comparing the relevant images to our experiment we did during the year. Things began quickly for the Cleveland, Texas, team as well. We attended all planning meetings for upcoming sol 62, the focus of which was to modify the process for delivery of the soil sample to the TEGA. Then Doug Ming, our scientist mentor, gave us six more raw data sets to convert to graphs that include selected gases. The graphs will be used to support TEGA soil analysis. We expect to get more data sets to work during sol 62.

After the last Sol meeting was over, we were given a small tour around the PIT by Christine Gregory, one of our PSIP Facilitators, where we saw the two full scale models of the Phoenix Lander and decided that it would be really cool to make a virtual tour done by one of the teams around the PIT of the SOC that we could take back and share with our communities. Hopefully we'll be able to find the time!

After our shift was over, we all relaxed for a while. Some went to the pool, others played tennis, and even a few visited the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Afterwards, we all met up for dinner, where we had a chance to talk with Dr. Tamppari (the Pomona, Calif., team mentor) and Dr. Ashitey Trebi-Ollennu, senior member of the engineering staff from the Jet Propulsion Lab, discussing the prospects of the mission. After having dinner we went to the mall to walk around, then headed back to get ready for our next day on Mars!

One sol down...

Your friendly neighborhood PSIP teams from Cleveland High School (Cleveland, TX), Mountain View High School (Mountain View, CA) and Village Academy High School (Pomona, CA)

The Cleveland, Texas, team examines data.