Thursday 2nd August 2012
I arrived in Pasadena yesterday evening, the first thing today is go to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and get my security pass. This has been a detailed process which started at the beginning of the year. Modern space missions are very conscious of security issues – in the case of MSL both of access to the jpl laboratory and the potential loss of sensitive technologies.
In the afternoon we will start the mapping meetings to discuss the work our subteam has been doing on the final landing ellipse. We will have to agree on what geological units we are going to colour in using our GIS software. This is a great way of discussing the origins of Gale Crater. For instance, we know that there must have been great heating related to Gale Crater formation (because of all the energy released during the impact 3800 million years ago) and quite likely a crater lake. Is that reflected in the clay and sulphate at the base of the sedimentary mountain (Mt. Sharp) or did they form in a completely different way? This sort of context will form the basis of understanding the nature of the water activity at Gale.
More immediately we are having a competition to see who can guess the final landing spot most accurately with a pin on a wall map.