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Field Report

April 16, 2003
Salar Grande, Atacama Desert, Chile

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

Status and Progress
- Cameras working. We continued to work through difficulties with the
cameras today and by late afternoon had made progress to the point
where we were able to resume experimentation with Hyperion. Along the
way we identified a firewire hub that appears to be corrupting the
firewire bus as well as some problems with sync generation for
externally-triggering the navigation cameras. As is the nature of
intermittent problems, we do not have conclusive evidence that
everything is correct, only that it is stable at the moment. We have
already begun discussion of the design for the hardware and software to
support multiple cameras and imaging instruments next year.
- Hyperion rusting. The nightly fog, called "camanchacas" in Chile,
carries salt from marine spray and appears to be corrosive. We have
observed rusting of exposed steel in a single night. Most of the steel
on Hyperion (in bolts) is coated and/or lubricated but now every bolt
is showing signs of rust. It is mostly cosmetic at the moment but this
has revealed an important issue for us to consider in our future
- Drove Hyperion. Once again it was late afternoon when things came
together, today the cameras being the critical path to operation.
Hyperion drove out into the operations area autonomously while
monitored for faults with its health manager. After a few hundred
meters the mission planner came online and began generating waypoints
to a goal about a kilometer distant. Everything went smoothly in the
remaining hour and a half before sunset, until the point where the
light level dropped below the safe operating level. In this sprint
Hyperion travelled 1.4 kilometers collecting sun sensor and visual
odometry data along the way. The cumulative odometric distance
traveled is 6809m, over 90% of which is navigating autonomously.
- Tested mission planner/executive and health monitor. The mission
planner is now generating waypoints for Hyperion to reach. Given a
goal kilometers distant, the mission planner works from a digital
elevation model (DEM) and solar models to find the minimum cost (in
energy and time) to reach the goal. It then generates intermediate
waypoints and a schedule that is used by the health monitor to assure
tracking of the plan and to trigger replanning as needed. In this
manner Hyperion was today able to travel several hundred meters in a
single command cycle.
- Hyperion afield. Tonight Hyperion is alone, parked about 2km from
our base camp. Our plan is to pick up early tomorrow morning continue
the current navigation run. It is powered down tonight but we are
computing the battery power level required for it to remain online
- Collecting fluorescence imager data. Also tonight we plan to collect
the first image set from the fluorescence imager, now that the lights
and cameras seem to be operational. More on this tomorrow.

- Operations with mission planner/health monitor
- SPI panorama capture

Morning: Cool, foggy
Afternoon: Clear with light winds
Evening: Cold, high clouds, amazing moonrise

Humidity Insolation Temperature Wind

Weather data is from April 15, as this is the last complete day of
data. Note in the insolation chart that late afternoon cloud beginning
16:00 appear as increased deviation from the nominal insolation curve.

Vulture Count: 6

Quote of the Day
" Dave, would you like this back?"


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