December 23, 2003
As I write this, it's twelve days until Spirt lands at Gusev Crater. Everything is done now except the final trajectory correction maneuvers, and even those are close to being upon us.
After all these years, it's hard to believe that we're finally almost there. Our science payload first came together as a rough idea about a decade ago, built up from instrument concepts that had already been in work for years before that. We began figuring out how to put it on a rover back in '95, and we've been designing and building flight hardware in earnest since '97. Starting in 2000, an army of hundreds of incredibly talented and dedicated engineers from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and elsewhere raced to make the concept a reality in time for launch. We made it to the launch pad against some pretty long odds, and now we're about to make it to Mars. Twice. And there, starting on the night of January 3rd, all those years of work are going to come down to a six-minute make-or-break plunge through the martian atmosphere. Heck of a way to make a living, eh? But I wouldn't trade it for anything.
For the past couple of weeks, I've been advising my team to rest up, take it easy, spend some time with their families, and get ready for the stress and fatigue of flight operations. I'm going to take my own advice now, and make this the last web page update for the next twelve days or so. The next time you hear from us, Spirit will be in Gusev Crater.
December 13, 2003 It's less than three weeks until Spirit lands. Our last operations readiness test is over. The final flight software has been loaded onto both Spirit and Opportunity, and we've finished and tested all of the instrument commands for the first week after we land. Final pre-landing health checks are done on all the instruments. The spacecraft are ready to go... more...
November 29, 2003 Wow, what an ORT! And it's a good thing, too, since this was our last one... more...
November 15, 2003 It's mid-November, and time for another ORT... more...
November 8, 2003 Good news about the Mössbauer Spectrometer on Spirit: We've figured out how to make it work... more...
October 25, 2003 In the operations readiness tests we're running, we spend a lot of time talking about elves and gremlins... more...
October 18, 2003 If it's 3:00 AM in Los Angeles, what time is it at Gusev Crater?... more...
October 4, 2003 Out of the frying pan and into the fire... more...