Happy New Year! I’m here at a Santa Fe Starbuck’s with my laptop and a Tmobile hotspot, checking out what the rovers accomplished over the long weekend. Did I mention that I’m completely addicted? :)
Most of the MER scientists and engineers got a well-deserved break over the holidays. But the rovers wouldn’t know what to do with a day off. They get so much new energy every morning, like my cat! So a few people were busy right before both holiday weekends putting together multiple 3-day plans to keep the rovers busy while we went home to families and celebrations. The University where I work is closed all week between the holidays, and it’s a pleasant break to not have to drive the hour+ to get there, so I was happy to bring my speakerphone and laptop home for the week and keep up remotely.
I get to the Starbucks closest to our house (it’s about a 15-minute drive into town) for an hour in the morning while Rob’s still asleep and just download what’s available – images, documents, everything. Then I bring it home and sort through it, make mosaics and false-color views, read what actually got accomplished in the last plan, see if I can spot interesting targets where we are, make sure I understand where we’re going and what people think we should do. Then, I call the telecon line from home and participate in the science planning process for the day. It’s total about 3.5 hours for the day if I want to really get into it. There are summaries and other ways to stay abreast of developments on a weekly basis, like this great web site at JPL that I use to check on Opportunity while I am focused on Spirit.
But for the rest of the week, I did take vacation. Rob also had the entire week off and my brother came into town for Christmas and the first part of the week. He’s super fun and we had a fabulous 5 days. Rob and I had big plans to be tourists in our own state for the rest of the week, but those all got canceled when we both got sick and spent the next 5 days cooped up at home sleeping, reading (me), and playing computer games (Rob). Objectively, that’s probably the vacation we needed.