Saturday, January 24, 2004  [!]
If you came here from Scripting News, scroll down for Opportunity Landing post. More coverage from later press briefings can be found on the January 25 day of this weblog.

Press conference is due to start in minutes. I'll keep updating things here.

In the meantime, AP story on successful landing... Check out adot's notblog*; he's got timestamps on his posts for landing.

Just switched to Van Karaman auditorium where there is an enthusiastic reception for mars team. They all filed in, handshakes with those on dias for press conference. hand shakes, high fives, high tens. laughter... there's a voice being broadcast, don't know whose, who said, "I'd like a pie in the face for Elachi" (I guess context is everything)

Sean O'Keefe, NAS Administrator, Ed Weiler Assoc Administrator for Space Science , Charles Elachi, Director, JPL, Pete Theisinger, Project Manager, Richard Cook Deputy Project Manager, Rob Manning, Entry, Descent and Landing development Manager.. big sustained applause as each is introduced...

O'Keefe: What a night! As the old saying goes, it's far better to be lucky than good. The harder we work, the luckier we get. This team is absolutely phenomenal. Tremendous testimonial to how NASA.. focus.. task.. this team is the best in the world, no doubt about it [which world? -ed]

Fascinating to see how these rovers are developing personalities. Spirit getting resentful, losing the attention. like rebellious teenagers... not responding to commands, staying up late.

Opportunity.. from back at launch. scrubbed at last minute. then launched an hour later. flawless performance. They're both developing impressive and important personalities.

recognizing others present: Sergio Vitrela from Italian space agency. Congressman Adam Schiff, Culbertson, former Gov Pete Wilson. Gov Schwarzenneger stopped by and former Vice President Al Gore.

Having started a tradition 3 weeks ago, awfully good to keep it going: pops champagne and pours for those on dais... cameras flash. To the Mars Exploration Rovber Team: The best in teh world. (camera pans to them all, standing in the back, they're the source of all teh hoots and woots)

Dr. Weiler: Mars closest in 60,000, so we had a unique opportunity, but we had the spirit to try for it. JPL team swept the double-header.... I got on the plane Thurs morning. came here prepared for a funeral (Spirit), what a roller coaster ride... resurrected one rover and saw the birth of another today. But I guess I"ll have to stop using the excuse of Mars as the Death planet because we've gone from a US record of 1 out of 2 to 5 out of 6. I wouldnj't be in character if I didn't remind everybody, this is just one critical milestone. There are a lot of critical deployments to go... This was one heck of a critical milestone... and thank you (he says, to JPL director Charles Elachi)

Dr. Charles Elachi: President of CalTech, Mayors of Pasadena and La Canada, and other board members of CalTech, and wife and her sister.. whose birthday it is today. Have a quote in his office by Teddy Roosevelt about daring to do great things. You have been observing exploration as it happens. its joy it's problems, ups and downs. Look at Lewis, Clarke, Cooke, Shackleton. What do you do when you face adversity? This team has done it well

For me the 2nd success is sweeter than the first one. People can say with one, well, they got lucky. But with two, got lucky twice through hard work. [names other qualities of the work]

Theisinger: We are two for two (biiiig cheers). 24 hours ago, closer to 36, I sat up on this stage and told you we had serious problems with Spirit and Opportunity about to go through its riskiest part of its journey. and now we've got Spirit on the way again, and Opportunity safely on the ground. he gives Kudos and props to the team. We have done-- in three years we have done two of the successful landings on mars. the people on my left have done 3 of the 5 and everything since Viking. Clearly this is a big day, and this shows the excellence of the design...

Richard Cook: I've been here for last 24 hours dealihng with Spirit problems and achievements.. and Opportunity. Amazing people on the team. The EDL team is here tonight and they're not going to hide what they think they've accomplished (bigggggg applause, woots). Lots of people standing behind them... Cruise operations team (applause), launch team, quality assurance, the designers and software developers adn people who built the pieces.. we've gone back to these people with Spirit and asked, 'now how does this work? and what does this thing do?' and they've got the answers right away. And finally, about 1500 of them down at PCC (local community college), friends and family, thanks for putting up wiht us.. and then.. (a shout from teh back- DSN!) Certainly the Deep Space Network, the people at Lockheed Martin.. anyone I left off, my apologies. One group in particular-- the navigation team... (applause, woots) These guys--when you think about what we're trying to do-- it boggles my mind that it's even possible. One thing they can't control is the atmosphere in Mars... Nav team thinks we've landed 24km downrange from the center of the ellipse. Scientist are very excited about where we came down. All the credit to the Nav guys.

Rob Manning: To thank everybody would be too hard.. the talent in this room is phenomenal--it's scary. it represents a cross section of our country. there are people like this next door. It's the kid who starts reading early. It's the young scientist. It's the oen who has incredible curiosity. Two great things happened in our solar system of ours-- one on Mars, and the other here in Pasadena... Let me tell you a little that I know.. we weren't paying too much attention to the data (too much champagne). Wayne was going through his timeline of what we expected.. we were a little ahead of that becuase the atmosphere was a little uncooperative. I'm curious to know how much time between when the parachute opened and when we came down [it seemed short]. Both Canberra and Goldstone both saw the signal -- all the way down. Deep Spae Network - phenomenal work. We want to pretend that this is a standard capability to look at things and listen to our solar system. It's phenomenal to listen to these signals so far away and so weak.

We saw that the radar worked. we saw the signal bounce. We listenend to the left and right polarization. As the craft is swinging on the bridle, rockets fired, bridle cut, (engineering: our trust are often temporary) lots of lautghter and applause. ) we were riding on teh plus Y petal. the signal's bouncing off the surface of mars and going directly out.. signals interfere with one another.. so signal got strong and weak, we realized after a while that's what we were seeing. We're still up on teh airbags while this is going on. EDL is not over yet. One fo teh things that's never happened before. The vehicle is going to right itself. It's prolly already happened. The petals open. our prediction is that the rover's wheels will be pointing east.

Wwe got data back from Mars Global Surveyor (MGS), spacecraft communicating with each other in real time. Remember that in Spirit, we got a wind acceleration.. Tonight, very different circumstance, we didn't have as much wind. Had some velocity. DIMES camera, and software figured out how fast we were moving horizontally. we were swinging a little bit. rockets countered prevailing motion .. at time of cutting the bridle, we weren't going very fast... we had a very casual bounce.. not hard bounce.. we didn't need to fire those rockets (horizontal correction rockets). so we still need to do deployment retract airbags, solar arrays going.

interruption for a special announcement from Charles Elachi.. broadcast... animation of birthday cake on mars, happy birthday sean; breaks out into happy birthday. Elachi: didn't want to allow Sean to get near the hardware... so for his birthday, we're giving him the lego set for the rover. It's for ages 10 and up,so when he gets bored in his meetings with senior staff, he can start constructing the lego...

Q & A

Q: Comment on the significance of having two rovers on Mars at the same time.

A: Pete: I can't wrap my head around this; it'll be months down teh road before I see teh significance of what this team has done.,

R. Cook: Getting the two work.. we can separate ourselves between the line between success and failure.

Rob Manning: It is amazing to me how far and how close Mars is. We now have two mobile stations on Mars. We don't attempt this very frequently-- as a species, much less as a country. This is something JPL has been doing .. This is representative of who we can be as human beings.

Q: speed of mission and its demands, pete said never again.. how do you feel about that

A: Unchanged. We knew going into it what we were doing and the opportunity [the close encoutner of mars and earth]. We did what was needed, but this shouldn't be the norm. (applause) The people applauding are the people who haven't seen their spouses for the last 6 months.

Q: You're obviously doing something right. How do you take this success and all and put that into getting funding, and getting results from other agencies?

A: O'Keefe.. something something President on Feb 3 budget

Q. Given what you know about Spirit, how will that affect pace of Opportunity?

A: We'll let the next day play itself out.. we've got a go-forward plan. The pace may be a little more measured; we'll see things play out.

Q: Chinese media person: not a question but a comment: She notes that Chinese New Year just happened on the 22nd; you prolly don't know it because you're on Mars time. But this is the year of the Monkey, and we hope the rovers on the surface are as energetic and active as monkeys.

Back 12:45am Pacific Time, coverage. . 2 Am next briefing

1/24/04; 10:48:30 PM | Space | Discuss | # | |

8:45pm They just had cruise stage separation. (On behalf of the avionics team, we'd like to thank you for flying with us. Have a pleasant journey)

(sorry, late on blogging bits due to private dinner party in front of TV. True to blog-event, though, it's a Julie/Julia inspired dinner, Boeuf Bourguignon, while listening to Holst's The Planets. Dinner guests: JPL colleagues from radar dept and micro devices laboratory. Oh, and your host here, a blogging un-geek non-engineer. So, back to the landing.....)

1264 miles, 3,029 miles per hour...

the signal that was supposed to go away with cruise stage jettison was immediately acquired by DSN. Flight director is about to poll to see if we're go for landing (comments locally: as if, what if you can't do it? All signal that we're getting is 11 minutes later than actual events).. they're all giving good status reports, some details, some just state "nominal" All space systems are go for EDL... green board 5:30 some seconds to landing

Wayne Lee, providing commentary... "Had you been on the space craft, you would have had a great view... Flew by Olympus Mons, and by so-called Grand Canyon of Mars... we invite you to sit back and enjoy the landing, it's going to be an E ticket ride..."

8:56; 3 minutes to go, when we hit top of martian atmosphere we'll be at an altitude of approximately 80 miles (local in the room here comment -- where I am, I mean, with some JPL colleagues--, by another JPL-er when I said, "How many miles?" "I wasn't listening. I don't pay attention to kilometers; why can't they give it in kilometers." Friends, the difference between real scientist/engineers and Jane Q. Public)

90 seconds, 150 miles

vehicle's curently travelling at 12,071 mph ...

30 seconds, altitude 102 miles....

atmospheric entry. mark... increase velocity for next minutee. 12,187 mph..

doppler indicates taht atmospheric deceleration is beginning...

28.,4 times the speed of sound. we should begin receiving tones indicating health and progress...

2 tones

we are now reaching point of maximum deceleration... 6 tones. 7 tone, back at 6 current speed maach 8.5

parachute deploy logic should be active soon... 12 miles in altitude... 50 seconds parachute. mach 4.1 (once at 1.8x speed of sound the parachute will deploy)

1,219 mph, parachute should have deployed, awaiting confirmation.... parachute deployed!! appllause!!!!

radar should be active.. confirmation flight software attempted to jettison the heat shield. lander separation event has been attempted.

currently decelerating at 0.4 gs. velocity 175 mph. passing 8000 feeet in altitude.

awiating word of radar lockup.

radar solution YES> applaus in the room (this is the radar group)

sounds of bouncing... difficult to maintain lock. need to reacquire signal to get posititive confirmation of landing,.

seeing it on LCPs. applause. hugs. VERY strong signal indicating ....

we're on mars, everybody!!!

control room, someone said, "We're two for two"

richard cook and rob manning are doing a mega bear hug. look for that in papers tomorrow...

"Mission, I'd like to thank you for the ride. I'd like the status shortly"

(two women on screen, hugging. comment here in the room, watching TV: She's in my yoga class!")

signal dropping on RCP but rising on the LCP (two poles of signal).. Al Gore is in the room.

"Flight, we're rolling on Mars" applause, woots Arnold is in the room.

so Gore and Schiff, and Schwarzenegger are shaking hands of the EDL/flight crew. Pointing at Rob Manning's monitor... congressman Colbertson.

Rob Manning: "Flight, we're still rolling very slowly from one angle to another angle"

"we're seeing evidence of a data downlink at this time. we should have data on the ground in 5 minutes"

someone, on mike in mission control, "Do we care about the data anymore?" raucous laugher here in this room

Lots of milling about, hubbub, happy looking faces.

Rob Manning: I don't think we can really say what's going on, the signal is goign up and down, low-frequency motion

First tone: latency of 20 seconds. we're seeing base-petal down tones.

shusshing. Theisinger is telling people to migrate away...

dont know if rolling or teetering, could be rolling long time due to flatness of Meridiani plane.

we are receiing simple tones from surface of mars, landing impact between 2 or 3 gs. (appreciative comments here in the room watching tv)

Flight, we have no fault tones. Applause. (no errors occured during this sequence, software performed as expected)

plus Y-petal down is reported. One of the high petals is down.

Just to remind you, there are no hills where we landed. Rob Manning: "No event to report tone"--it gets bored. (I think I won the bet about base petal down stuff)

Now approx 20 minutes after touchdown, continue to receive strong signal from spacecraft.

MGS Mach- we have received data and processed it, ready to put on the dom. Give you the inlock time so ready to copy.

data that opprotunity lander transmitted to MGS in orbit while it was en route to Mars. [it might include DIMES data, which would mean getting images].

Flight, it's pretty clear that we've been on the low gain antenna which the signal is pretty weak on... Flight, I think that's it for teh direct to earth link. I think we're going to start looking at MGS data now...

MGS: We've taken a closer look at the data; it looks clean. Welcome to Mars again.. (they're heading over the horizon)

Rob Manning explains that the signal was interfering with itself as we went toward earthset, causing the raising and lowering of signal, which made it *seem* as tho the craft was rolling, but he believes that it stopped rolling before this time...

general hubbub right now. conducting post-landing poll, but NASA TV is interviewing someone. (We'd all like to listen to status...)

Press conference at 10:30.

1/24/04; 8:58:25 PM | Space | Discuss (1 response) | # | |

Ultra-brief recap from press briefing: Communications with Spirit have been successful, they've got some hypotheses, and they've got a go-forward plan. They gotta wake up the rover daily in "cripple mode." It's still gonna be a coupla weeks to restore functionality, and projections of functionality are unknown, but much better than worst-case scenario. Check out Asa's report (more to come later when press briefing is over)

1/24/04; 12:37:19 PM | Space | Discuss | # | |

Via Jeff Jarvis, a radio show Sunday night at 9 eastern (6 Pacific). Chris Lydon will be hosting it. KPCC is going to be carrying it. (list of stations carrying the show)

1/24/04; 11:25:13 AM | Democracy | Discuss | # | |

Hooray for the press folks at JPL. They're staying on top of little bits of news, and they post it on the Mars Rovers mission homepage. This from 6:35 last night:

Spirit sent 73 megabits at a rate of 128 kilobits per second. The transmission included power subsystem engineering data, no science data, and several frames of "fill data." Fill data are sets of intentionally random numbers that do not provide information.

Spirit had not communicated successfully through Odyssey since the rover's communications difficulties began on Wednesday.

Opportunity is on track for landing tonight. No big centralized event a la Wild About Mars, but I'll be blogging it. You can also watch it on NASA TV, which requires RealPlayer. I think, too, that C-SPAN will be carrying NASA-TV. (Yep, I see that their science library has past briefings)

1/24/04; 11:05:02 AM | Space | Discuss | # | |