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Field Report

April 11, 2003
Salar Grande, Atacama Desert, Chile

- Initial checkout and calibration
- Set up operations tent and communication
- Autonomous navigation and power measurement experiments begin

Status and Progress
- Logged complete day of weather. The weather station has been online since yesterday logging temperature, relative humidity, wind speed and direction (maximum and average), and insolation. We will log weather data continuously until we leave. We've already observed a few interesting phenomena: the wind is from the east in the morning, south in afternoon and north in the evening, the temperature decreases (down 15C) and humidity increases (up 30%) within an hour of sunset, and fog/dew follow warm nights.
- Solar experiment operational. Logging of voltage, current and temperature from the test panels (Si and GaAs) is working as is control of the variable load and pan/tilt mechanism so that we can automatically log panel performance with varying pointing direction and load over the course of the day. Problems with the pan/tilt were compensated in software although blown fuse remains a puzzle. The spectrophotometer, which measures power across the entire spectrum (200 - 1200nm) must still be operated manually. This graph shows the short wavelengths of spectra taken of the Sun on April 10, 2003 at times noted in the legend. This spectrophotometer also covers the visible blue and ultraviolet portions of the spectrum up to about 1200 nm, but is not all shown here. For these measurements the spectrophotometer was manually aligned to the Sun, so the pointing accuracy should be considered to be +/-10.
- Set up remote software development environment. With the project just underway all software is in preliminary development so we set up our software repository (CVS) on a single laptop which acts as a server. Hyperion and development computers (all laptops) remain synchronized and completely portable. It took a bit of network reconfiguration to get it all working smoothly but it now should serve well.
- Set up short range communication. We put together a wireless ethernet for initial rover checkout. This provided good coverage for a few hundred meters around base camp (and probably much farther). For the next stage of testing we will bring the long-range radio ethernet and VHF communication systems online.
- Drove Hyperion. Electronic and sensor checkout of Hyperion were completed. We installed the solar panels and began charging batteries. (The maximum power point trackers are making an interesting noise but seem to be functioning well and quickly brought batteries from transport voltage up to full charge. We added an additional strap to further secure the panels and experienced wind peak of 40kph with no difficulty. The panel failure mode will likely be the epoxy that bonds the panels to mounting brackets but so far there are not signs of damage. After a few short moves, Hyperion went on its first excursion traveling from base camp to first operational test region and back again. The total distance was about 360m. Hyperion was driven mostly by supervised teleoperation where it is given steering commands to execute but about 100m was by autonomous navigation. These first tests revealed problems in camera calibration which were then resolved.
- Calibrated navigation cameras. Initial calibration of the cameras did not provide sufficient accuracy for terrain modeling so a second round of calibration images were collected and processed to provide new calibration that looks promising for tomorrow.

- Full-day solar experiment
- Autonomous navigation and power measurement experiments


Vulture Count: 3

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