Status Report

MER 2003/Athena Update Week Ending July 26, 2003

By SpaceRef Editor
July 28, 2003
Filed under , ,

We’re getting ready to practice in a "sandbox." The "sandbox" (link
to same image as thumbnail see instructions below) is a
facility at the Jet Propulsion Lab that contains martian-like dirt,
rocks, simulated sunlight, and a replica of the rover. Much of our
effort this week has been focused on preparations for a test that
uses this facility to help us learn to command the rovers on Mars.
The test is called PORT-3 Post-Launch Operations Readiness Test
(formerly known as Surface Operations Readiness Test). We will
operate a bank of computers in one building at JPL to drive the
model of the rover in another building.

To prepare for PORT-3, the science team has been ironing out details
in teleconferences, downloading software to practice, and building
sequences. These sequences will command the rover in the sandbox to
approach a rock target, position its arm near the target, and tell
science instruments on the end of the arm to make contact with the

It takes weeks to prepare for a test like this. But we’re doing our
homework and we’ll be ready.

SpaceRef staff editor.