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Field Report

April 12, 2003
Salar Grande, Atacama Desert, Chile

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

Status and Progress
- Logged weather through "fog event". The weather station operated overnight including through a major fog event with humidity rising from mid-day low of 20% to 97% and winds of 40kph (and visibility down to 10 meters). We woke after sunrise to find Hyperion covered with condensation. [See photos of water on the solar panels.] No harm done. Also interestingly there was noticeable rust that developed on case handles and several exposed bolts.
- Solar experiment operational. We have been fine tuning the solar panel experiment to measure the performance of Si and GaAs panels at various orientations and loads throughout the day. The pointing algorithm and sampling rates were changed to obtain more data in the areas of greatest change. [Illustrative graphs of cell performance tomorrow.]
- Captured SPI panoramic. We tested the SPI (stereo panoramic imager) instrument by capturing a complete stereo image set (+10 to -45 by 360 in 10 steps). The complete zipped image set is 60M so it will take an hour or so to upload on our current link to the internet. Calibration images and numbers for the SPI cameras are forthcoming.
- Set up operations tent. We moved into the operations tent today to enable long range navigation and communication along the valley were we will conduct the next set of tests. Aside from moving equipment, this relocation involved assembling and anchoring long-range (higher gain) antennas for communicating with Hyperion.
- Set up VHF communication. We are experiencing some difficulty with radio voice communication, likely due to marginal battery charge in handheld units, so we set up the VHF base station and are now blasting away at 10W, enough to carry to hand-held units in the field. "KB3IZO is on the air."
- Drove Hyperion. Hyperion drove from base camp to the new operations area and then, once the operations tent was set up, on into the fault valley. The total distance traveled today is 1085m of which about 1km was autonomous. Hyperion avoided all obstacles along the way and picked its way up some slopes. We collected several stereo image data sets of interesting terrain.
- Camera problems. We are continuing to have difficulty with cameras. This year Hyperion's camera suite has grown from a single stereo pair on a dedicated card for navigation, to include to the SPI, sun sensor, and fluorescence imager for a total of 8 cameras and 3 firewire hubs. A camera server manages this firewire bus but a number of problems have been detected and worked out one at a time. At the moment we are occasionally losing contact with the navigation cameras. Tomorrow we will strip down the bus and continue navigation experiments and then incrementally add cameras and hub to try to reproduce the fault.

- Autonomous navigation and power measurement experiments
- SPI calibration

Night: cold and foggy
Day: hot and sandy


Vulture Count: 14

Quote of the Day
"If a sandstorm comes along, you must zip it. If the wind gets too strong, you must zip it. Zip it. Zip it good."


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