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Field Report

April 15, 2003
Salar Grande, Atacama Desert, Chile
 

Agenda
- Autonomous navigation and power measurement experiments
- Operations with mission planner/health monitor
- Visual odometry data collection

Status and Progress
- Tested software. Focus today was on confirming the correct functioning of mission planning and execution software including verification of the DEM and computation of a lighting model for the operations area. The health monitor was also checked out for proper behavior on faults. Both are now running onboard Hyperion and appear ready to go for long-distance navigation tests. We are working towards 1 km of navigation in a single command and hope to make good progress toward this goal during this first field season.
- Drove Hyperion. Everything came together by late afternoon for autonomous navigation with health monitoring enabled. Hyperion drove off but after several hundred meters began to experience problem with its navigationcameras. Despite some frustration this is the nature of field experimentation. The things that work in the lab do not always work in the field. One purpose behind conducting tests this year is to determine the weak points in the system to devote attention to in the coming year so that the rover is eventually able to sustain itself for weeks and 10s of kilometers of navigation.
- Wired fluorescence imager. The fluorescence imager lighting system is now operational. Once navigation camera issues are resolved we can turn attention to grabbing images from the peripheral devices like the sun sensor and fluorescence imager.The image shows the fluorescence imaging prototype instrument with all three banks (red, green, blue) of LEDs illuminated. One bank at a time the illuminate and then cameras detect for fluorescence in specific wavelengths. With all LED banks activated the focus point of the cameras experiences apparent white light for context imaging.
- Debugging cameras. We are continuing to have problems with cameras, something that has not been a problem in the past. We knew the system would require more development effort when we went from 2 to 8 cameras onboard Hyperion. We arrived in the Atacama with a software/hardware system that had proven to work but we now continue to experience intermittent problems with no obvious cause. The current suspicion is that one of our cameras is experiencing a hardware fault and is garbaging up the firewire bus. In late afternoon we replaced the navigation cameras with spares and began the process of calibrating the stereo pair.
- Analyzing solar cells. Our solar cell characterization experiment has been running for several days now. Every 15 minutes it points a pair of panels, one Silicon and one GaAS, towards the sun and measures the output voltage, current and temperature under 200 different load conditions. It then repeats the measurement with the panel horizontal. Some initial results appear in the following two charts which show voltage and current at four different times. We will now modify the experiment to include several additional pointing directions.

Upcoming
- Operations with mission planner/health monitor

Weather
Morning: Cool and dry, late afternoon high clouds (first clouds in two
weeks)
Afternoon: Cold and breezy
[Insert temperature, humidity, insolation and wind charts]

Vulture Count: 5

Quote of the Day
" Yes, we like erratic motion."

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