Mojave Volatiles Prospector Field Test (2014-10-15)

October 20 2014

Short story: today went very well.  We got in, set up, and should be on track for rover checkout and connectivity testing back to Ames tomorrow.

We plan to use the morning for rover/systems checkout and driving around the area a bit without instruments installed (to protect instruments and reduce operational concerns to focus on driving tests), then install instruments and possibly the source after lunch.  We can test comms between the field and Ames in parallel with the rover checkout.

More details:

The team got in to the staging area with not too much trouble.  We met at the Zzyzx Road turnoff, unhitched the trailer, and most of the team drove down the access road to survey the route and set up some infrastructure to cross the gullies, leaving the volunteer (yours truly) to watch the trailer and box truck.  When they returned, we re-hitched and headed in with the trailer and box truck.  The boards they used to fill in the worst ditches worked out very well.

Setup proceeded well.  By the end of the day, we think we have the generators Tropos, GPS, and MROC ops trailer set up to a workable configuration, with tables, chairs, most consoles, power and data wired throughout.  We managed to do a quick connectivity check between the field trailer and the robot (KRex), as well as a  connectivity check between one voice terminal and the server at Ames.  No voice check, only confirmed that the client connected to the server.  We shut down and packed up on time to depart from the field site right at 6:00p.  The sun was going down but the light was sufficient for driving out, so sticking with that end of day time should work out.

We will also need to rework the Tropos antenna and GPS base station setup tomorrow as well.  We didn’t get them to a good enough state for overnight winds (which we were informed can get up to 50 mph / 80kph, though it didn’t seem like it was that bad last night).

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