Of a rover and radio science…

We have good news and bad news today.

Ok, the good news first – as promised, Matt Lenda has written a BIG post on his blog, explaining how, and why, Oppy is doing “radio science” whilst parked up at Greeley Haven. Now, speaking personally, although I obviously appreciate the need for Oppy to park up for such a long time, and I have no time for “backseat drivers” who moan on blogs and in forums about it, I am impatient now for our gal to get moving again. Opportunity is a rover, and it just feels… wrong… for her to stay still for this long. I know, I know, no choice, survival, etc… but have to be honest, I’m a bit bored with this view now, and there are some fascinating-looking things down there, and over there, that I want Oppy to go take a look at! This is like being parked at the Yosemite Valley car park, with the park’s great granite cliffs, forests and waterfalls shouting at us! Let’s go see!!!

But it’s not time for that yet, and Oppy is working very hard whilst standing still. The “radio science campaign” is going to be looked at as one of the major successes of the whole MER mission, and you can get all the background on it in the new post on Matt’s blog. It’s a fascinating read, and I know you’ll enjoy it. Here it is…


Now the bad news.

The website most rover enthusiasts like myself use to view and download rover images from is the Exploratorium website. Since the start of the MER mission it has allowed access to every raw image sent back by the rovers, and we’ve come to rely on it very heavily for providing the images we use in our colourisations, 3D views and panoramas. We’ve been a bit concerned that the Exploratorium site hasn’t updated for more than a week, but not too concerned; the “pipeline” between the Exploratorium site and JPL has been blocked a few times in the past, but it’s always got sorted out eventually. However, it seems this problem may be more serious, and is the result of an issue with one of the servers at JPL, which has failed. There appear to be no immadiate plans to repair or replace it, so we may, worst case scenario, have ‘lost’ Exploratorium as our GoTo source of rover images.

If that’s true, it will be a great shame, because people like me have come to think of our daily visits to the Exploratorium site as part *of* the MER mission. It’s part of our daily routine. There are other places to obtain rover images from, including of course this official NASA MER site, which also shows the images ad thumbnails, but that site can go for periods without updating too. All very frustrating.

Now, before anyone says anything, I KNOW, we’ve been spoiled with all these “almost live” raw images. We’re very, very lucky that the science teams are willing to share their images so freely and so quickly, and just as lucky that there are people and sites out there willing to display and archive them for us. I’m NOT complaining. I remember how, in the old days, there WERE no raw images, or thumbnails, or sites allowing access to images at *all*! But this is what we’ve been using, grown up with, and it’s what we’ve come to rely on, so losing it would be very frustrating.

I hope they can sort out the problems soon. If not, it will be a blow to the Outreach aims of the MER mission and the people involved in it.

Meanwhile, I’m now using images from the official MER site to create pictures to post here on RtE, and here is my latest, which I’ve tried to make “in” the same colours as the ‘official’ NASA ones displayed on the MER Pancam website.

More soon!

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1 Response to Of a rover and radio science…

  1. starbuck5250 says:

    Oh, I hope the server gets replaced!

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