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Mars and Me

Opportunity Sol 1066 (Spirit Sol 1087)

24 Jan 2012, 01:14 UTC
Opportunity Sol 1066 (Spirit Sol 1087)
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

We're in what is probably the flattest, most featureless terrain this vehicle has been in, ever. You'd think that would be good news: no obstacles, nothing to hit. The problem is that we have this big honking hole in the ground called Victoria Crater, and we need to stay the heck away from it.Our basic tools for making sure we stay away from something are visodom and autonav. Visodom helps you by telling you where you are, by comparing "before" and "after" pictures to figure out how far the rover actually went -- as compared to how far it thinks it went because of how many times it spun its wheels. The problem with that is that in featureless terrain, the "before" and "after" pictures look the same. We try to fix that by looking at our own tracks, but those have a nice repeating pattern -- a "picket fence effect" -- that can confuse the software. Looking into the crater at the nifty featureful stuff in there doesn't work either, mostly because it's too far away.Autonav has its own problems in this terrain. With no features, it can't get good 3-D data about the world, so it treats that ...

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