TUESDAY 17 JUNE 1997, THE ATACAMA DESERT (Pampa Elvira Region)

Sorry for the missing updates, things have gotten rather hectic here. We have our satellite link! And we've already had some remote driving of Nomad from the Ames Research Center in California. So we appear to be in fair shape for the public debut at the Pittsburgh Science Center tomorrow.

One of our principal sensors is the so-called "panospheric camera". It takes an image of the complete area surrounding Nomad, all 360 degrees; and it takes several images each second, creating in effect a full-surround movie. As you might imagine, such a capability requires a lot of communication bandwidth. So we will be sending 1 million bits of information each second, just for the imagery alone.

That much infomation requires a good satellite link. Our connection came up on Sunday, but seemed to be a bit sluggish. Our own Hans Thomas worked out some of the difficulties together with the good folks in the US, and we now have a very good connection. It's been great getting back in touch with folks in the US by email and voice.

In preparation for tomorrow's public debut, we limited the driving today to 1 kilometer (0.6 miles), much of it remotely controlled from Ames. We tried out the various imaging sensors (panospheric camera, Ames science cameras, Nomad's internal stereo cameras), had some remote driving, and tested what happens when Nomad drops out of sight of the relay station. At this near distance (500m) we were in good shape; we didn't lose the connection. It will be interesting to see how the primary link does at longer distances.

Our command truck is due in tonight! Much as we've enjoyed working in the army ambulance for the past week, it will be a relief to have our prepared-at-home command center on site. It's nice and cosy with five people and some of our equipment in the ambulance, but the 14'x8'x8' command truck (or "ops box") with generators, heater, desktops, and shelving with help things (and people) run more smoothly.

Looking forward to the public debut...

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Last Modified on: Wed Jun 25, 1997