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The new LCC

Once again useing cars as wind-breaks on each side

Once again useing cars as wind-breaks on each side

The new LCC

Using our local support's Rauls tent which should be able to withstand higher winds

Using our local support’s Rauls tent which should be able to withstand higher winds

After yesterday’s dust devil we have rebuilt the LCC this morning. Special thanks to Raul for providing the new hopefully more wind resistant tent.

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Calibrating instruments

Calibrating instruments

from left to right: Rafik, Olivier, Tor, Steve, Andy and Wayne.

from left to right: Rafik, Olivier, Tor, Steve, Andy and Wayne.
credit: Elie Allouis ‎(Astrium)

To calibrate WISDOM a highly reflective surface is put under it (the golden foil) to get the maximum reflection. After the calibration WISDOM can see up to 10 meters underground depending on the soil type.

Pancam on top, WISDOM are the two gold antennas pointing down and clupi is the black camera on the right

Pancam on top, WISDOM are the two gold antennas pointing down and clupi is the black camera on the right
credit: Elie Allouis ‎(Astrium)

Loading up Bridget for day 2

Loading up Bridget for day 2

credit: Elie Allouis ‎(Astrium)

Pancam calibration

Pancam calibration Pancam was deployed on the field yesterday to take panoramas at the starting position prior to Bridgets arrival and to calibrate the cameras. The calibration targets would be mounted on the rover for Mars missions.

Bridget goes to Mars

Bridget goes to Mars

Loading Bridget on a pickup to carry it down to the trial site

Loading Bridget on a pickup to carry it down to the trial site

In the morning Bridget left her comfy shed behind. The pick-up track is not quite as good as the Russian Proton rocket that will carry ExoMars to Mars but it does to job of cutting across the Atacama to the trial site. good luck Bridget!

Andy talks autonomy

Andy talks autonomy

The terrain near the LCC is very Mars-like. The dense boulder fields test the navigation capability of the rover. Andy from Scisys explains what Bridget is doing during these pre-trial tests:

Bridget’s fist run near the LCC

Bridget’s first run near the LCC

Yesterday Bridget spent a day at the LCC, running some navigation and locomotion tests. This was the first time Bridget encountered the dense rocky terrain of the deep Atacama desert.

How fast can a Mars rover go?
The question should really be how fast a Mars rover needs to go. When you are exploring another planet the saying “slow and steady wins the race” is especially true. On Mars rovers need to manage the limited resources they have in terms of power and processing power. During a scenario like SAFER the science team still needs time to make the correct decisions on which way to proceed, scans need to be completed with the cameras, radar and other instruments and the rover needs to navigate safely in unexplored terrain.

Imagine it like you are exploring a newly discovered cave, it is dark, slippery and no-one has been there before. If you want your exploration to be a success you will need to proceed with care at a steady slow place and look around with your light often. Similarly our rover explores slowly and steadily, and uses it’s instrument suit to scan the terrain often.

Have a look at the following video to see how fast a Mars rover moves:

This was a short test near the LCC with navigation but without any of the instruments.