The highlight of today was the successful operation of Rover TV in Pittsburgh. Live imagery from the panospheric camera was shown on Pittsburgh cable channel PCTV, and audience members were invited to phone into the station to control both Nomad's motion and the direction in which the panospheric camera was aimed. I know that's how it worked because I got to drive it from Chile! It was a bit odd, controlling a robot less than two miles away by phoning thousands of miles away over a satellite, and watching the imagery over yet another satellite from a source 1000 kilometers away, but it was fun. The show ran successfully for an hour this afternoon, and news of its production made the local network primetime news on WPXI. If you missed it today, a followup show will be broadcast next Friday, 25 July from 4-5pm Eastern Daylight Savings Time, once again on PCTV. Talks are underway to see about wider distribution too, so stay tuned.
Before the telephone driving, we had another test of the remote driving from Santiago, Chile. A new driver, Miguel Torreto, sent Nomad through 493 meters during just under an hour of remote driving. And after the phone driving, Nomad drove itself into the sunset for 478 meters (well, "around" the sunset is more like it; the low Sun confuses the safeguarding system). Its progress was a bit slow because there were many "obstacles" in its way (just small hills, really), and the navigation system still needs to have its obstacle avoidance behavior tuned.
In the better-late-than-never department, this morning we managed to track down the tent pole that was lost in the 50+ mile per hour winds yesterday. It seems that in addition to the remote geology studies done by NASA Ames, the field team here is acquiring detailed intuitive knowledge of the airflow characteristics of the region.
Tonight had been quite windy, from about 1630 hours until 2200 hours, but the weather improved markedly before our post-midnight farming run. When the wind is blowing it is quite difficult to fill small gas cans from large 60 liter (14 gallon) containers, and to fill generators from the small cans, since the gas you are trying to pour gets blown all over the place. Fortunately, the situation was much better at High Moon; the winds had died down, and the nearly-full Moon provided ample light. That left us in good shape for the nighttime patterned search, which added several additional kilometers to our total distance, which is now (counting from 15 June):