the ship is waiting
I was lucky enough to land interviews with Dr. Joy Crisp, who is one of the project scientists, one of the guys who drives the rovers (who I can't find any web data on, so I'm pretty sure I've gotten his name wrong, like an idiot) and Julie Townsend, who is the Tactical Uplink Lead (how cool does that sound?)
I thought I may be a little silly ("So, tell me, if you had to reverse the polarity on the rover's main deflector shield . . . ") but mostly serious ("What's the data transfer rate from the Rover to the DSN, and what protocol do you use to talk to it?").
When I was there, though, I found it very difficult to joke around, because I am so in awe of these people. I mean, I pretended to do shit in space. These people really do, and their work will have a far greater impact on history than mine. Oh, and they're all super nice and patiently answered each question I asked like they hadn't heard it a thousand times already. When faced with an intelligent scientist who is passionate about her work, who is taking time out of her day to talk to me, it just seems wrong to ask some flip question about how many Martians they've had to photoshop out of the images.
We talked a lot about what they expected to learn from this mission, and how relieved they were that it's working so well, especially considering all the losses they've had from recent Mars missions. Their optimism and excitement was infectious, and electric, and I was very grateful to be there to share some of it with them.
So I was *incredibly* sad this afternoon when I read that Spirit hasn't talked to JPL for 24 hours, and they're afraid that they may have lost contact with the rover.
There's still some hope that they can recover from what is being called a "very serious anomaly," but that hope is fading fast.
So if anyone reading this could, you know, maybe look up toward Mars tonight, and send a little Mojo to Spirit, that'd be cool.
UPDATED @ 1800 PST: Spirit Beeps It's Alive And "Commandable": NASA Official
NASA officials at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory have confirmed that the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit has responded to an emergency command this morning by sending back a radio beep -- an event which had been stated as a possibility, but not a certainty, at the end of this morning's JPL press conference. "This means it's commandable," a JPL spokeswoman told SpaceDaily.
(Link found via trackback. Thanks, Grant!)