Today was a good day for Nomad as the repaired bearings seem to be holding up well. Nomad was driven for about 8 kilometers total, and in spite of the occasional ping and gurgle is sounding good.
Nomad's patterned search behavior seems to be holding up well. Today the field team gave visual confirmation that during the patterned search (driving up and down rows like a farmer) it is able to hold its position well. The team in Pittsburgh sent it on a patterned search with very small spacing, just enough so that if all went well, one set of wheels would drive over its own tracks on the next pass. And indeed, that is what was seen on at least four rows. Nice to know our position sensors and commanded driving controls are working well.
And in the never-too-late-for-good-news department, some of the sensors we brought down for meteorite search testing have been proven to work quite well; they located some hitherto undiscovered meteorites! During his time here, Liam Pedersen set out with Michael Parris to an area that had been described as a good source for meteorites over 100 years ago. Even though that area had been thoroughly searched over the past century, they managed to find two new meteorites that have been confirmed as such by William Cassidy, veteran geologist and Antarctic meteorite discoverer from the University of Pittsburgh. Professor Cassidy himself had searched this area some thirty years ago, so it was particularly appropriate that he confirm the finding. Note that while these were not discovered by Nomad, they were found using sensors that are intended to be deployed in Antarctica on robotic meteorite searches.
This evening we relocated our hilltop relay station. It had been on a small peak near the operations truck, in a location that was perfect while Nomad was north of us, but now that Nomad has moved south some new terrain features would have occluded its line of sight to the hilltop. We have not moved the operations truck at all, just the hilltop station to a point a couple kilometers south with a much better view of the terrain that we expect Nomad to cover in the next few days.
You may recall that a few days ago one of our sleeping bags got blown a kilometer away by the wind when we were not paying attention. Well today we have done even better; one of our tents blew away in plain view. Jim Teza noticed a huge dark object flying by him in the 50+ mile per hour winds, but was unable to catch it in time. So we set out in our trucks, searching the desert in the dark. After about 40 minutes we managed to track it down, unfortunately not in the same place as the sleeping bag had been. But once again it had travelled over a kilometer away from camp. It got a little beaten up on the journey, and one of its poles got lost, but we are glad to have recovered it and its contents.