"Uh, Steven, about your tent, did you just fold it up or...."
This quote of the day comes to you from Jim Teza, who had just entered the Operations Truck after walking around the camp in the early evening wind. Fortunately, Steven *had* just finished folding up his tent, which did not seem to be surviving the high winds very well. He is managing well enough though, since we have some extra space in our other tents.
The primary focus of our work today was on locomotion and communications testing. Instead of novice drivers in Pittsburgh, graduate students Ben Shamah and Deepak Bapna got to dictate Nomad's actions today. We sent Nomad through a variety of calisthenics; circles, straight lines, moving backward and forward, up and down hills, with wheels alternately stowed and deployed. While all this was going on we were recording large amounts of telemetry that Ben and Deepak will use to characterize Nomad's performance, e.g., motor currents and network bandwidth usage. These experiments require the work of many people to collect the data and make sure it is all right. We learned just how important this was when we learned that we had lost differential GPS during some of the test runs, and will have to redo them.
Some of the younger team members are learning to appreciate both the importance and tedium of taking experimental data. Steven, an undergraduate on our team from the University of Iowa, learned how to record the number of bits per second passing through our network by pressing "up-arrow, enter" every second for 10 minutes at a time, many times throughout the day. We are glad we can help inspire the next generation of scientists with such fascinating activities.
Today we also welcomed some British videojournalists who are visiting the Atacama as part of their documentary on weather conditions throughout the world. The Atacama being the "driest desert in the world", they were especially interested to hear of our encounter with the rain on 14 July. Unfortunately it seems our image logging facilities were not functioning at the time of the rainfall, so we may not be able to provide them with actual views of the water droplets on the panospheric camera. But I am sure we can get them some useful information, and maybe even a picture of the rainbow that formed shortly after the 20 droplets had hit.
Unfortunately none of the more than two kilometers travelled by Nomad today will count toward our total. Nomad was completely controlled by folks here in the desert, and we are only allowed to count distances toward our overall total during times of remote or autonomous driving.