September 29-30, 2004
Guanaco Camp, Atacama Desert, Chile
• Repair environmental monitoring station and bring online
• Work on position estimator, power monitoring, and spectrometer
• Set up satellite communication
• Scout field site (Site C)
Status and Progress
Repaired environmental station. Replacement processor board and hard
disk for our environmental monitoring station have been installed and
rebuilt. We conducted tests of the station’s functionality including
measurement of the full solar spectrum with the sun-tracking
photospectrometer. All systems are working and we expect to bring
everything online tomorrow.
Established power monitoring. We finished modifications to the power
monitoring software including calibrating voltage and current sensors
and establishing communication the autonomy software. The PMAD is now
monitoring voltages and currents throughout the system. These values
are being published to the autonomy software for monitoring and fault
detection and logged continuously for power and mobility analysis.
Optimized VNIR spectrometer automatically. Zoe’s onboard spectrometer
must optimize its detector gains to accommodate changing temperature
and signal strength. This routine was the last remaining element in
automating control of the device (we had previously been optimizing
manually before instrument data collection). Zoe can now power-up,
point the foreoptic, optimize the signal levels, and collect
spectra. Zoe will now be able to, collect spectra with the same
autonomy that it collects images from its SPI cameras.
Refining position estimation. We continue to analyze the performance of
our inertial-odometric position orientation system. This system does
not use GPS and relies only on measured wheel rotation, rover kinematic
models, and inertial sensing. We now believe we have resolved issues
with several of the sensors and have high-quality raw data. We have
been focusing on timing issues that arise non-deterministically among
the many high-rate sampling and estimation threads. The quality of the
position and orientation estimates continues to improve as we work to
get the best performance out of each cycle. We are now moving to
testing with autonomous navigation and having Zoe run around a series
of waypoints while it estimates their location and its motions. Zoe has
logged many kilometers in the last few days.
Field site scouted. We located a route to transport Zoe from the
Guanaco camp to the investigation site (Site C). This region is much
different than our two prior investigations in the Coastal Range near
Salar Grande. The terrain is a rocky desert of soft soil covered with a
desert pavement of rocks. We expect new insights into the performance
of the rover and its instruments, and in the significant challenge of
detecting life and characterizing habitat in the central desert.
• Conduct autonomous navigation experiments
• Test sun tracking system
• Test Li-Polymer batteries.
Morning: Clear, cool 14C, no wind, dry
Afternoon: Clear, moderate 22C, no wind except occasional dust devil,
Evening: Clear, cool 16C, no wind, humidity 26%
Quote of the Day
"Well, we should continue."
For more information on Life in the Atacama including images, movies,
and field reports see: http://www.frc.ri.cmu.edu/atacama