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August 28-30, 2004
Salar Grande, Atacama Desert, Chile

Arrive Iquique
Select science site
Collect ground control points
Make arrangements at Mina Punta de Lobos
Receive cargo
Establish base camp

Status and Progress
Explored southern Salar Grande. This field season, with a more capable rover, we are planning to investigate regions to the south of Salar Grande higher up into the coastal range. We have visited a number of locations seeking a vast expanse with terrain, geology, and biology that are suitable and interesting for rover-based investigation. Some areas that appear promising are difficult to access and would represent very constrained operating areas. We have located two candidate regions and are now considering how to transport the rover to its "landing site".

Collected ground control points. Our rover uses a satellite-based digital elevation model to navigate through terrain features at the scale of mountains and valleys. To create a map of quality similar to what might be expected for planetary exploration we collect position and altitude information on a few points on the ground that help the USGS to accurately reconstruct the topography. The trick is to find locations that can be clearly identified both on the ground and in satellite images from NASA's ASTER instrument. Immediately after arriving in Iquique we drove past Site A from the 2003 field season and into regions where the satellite-based digital elevation models are not yet well calibrated. We located several suitable ground control points and have transmitted them to the USGS to build an accurate model of the region.

Received cargo safely. On Monday our cargo arrived in Iquique and was safely tranported to our field site. It arrived right on schedule and with everything in good condition. Thanks go to our excellent packing crew and express shippers for a job well done.

Assemble rover
Set up satellite communication

Mornings: Overcast, patchy fog, calm, about 12C, humidity 60%
Afternoons: Clearing, light breeze, 10-20kph, 18C, humidity 50%
Evenings: Clearing, light breeze 15kph, cool 13C, humidity 75%,
Quote of the Day:
"So, how do you say 5 avacados? Palta, palta, palta, palta, paltas."

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