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Touch Screen for the Long-Term Planning Team

View a larger image (250 kB) or learn about other sol 18 images.

The touch screen is an interactive, bulletin-board-sized screen that the Long-Term Planning Team (LTP) uses to keep track of daily and future rover activities. Scientists and engineers walk up to the board, and with their fingers, touch the plasma screen for effortless navigation on this computer. They can also draw on this screen. If they want to draw or circle an object, they pick up a stylus and scribble away!

Brad Joliff

The Long-Term Planning team does what the title implies. While other science teams are busy figuring out what the data from the rover instruments mean and are planning on what the very next observations and measurements should be, the LTP team thinks about what the rover should be doing two, three, five, or even ten sols down the road. "We constantly interact with other science team members," says scientist Brad Joliff from Washington University in St. Louis, "and we get just as caught up in the moment-to-moment excitement as everyone else on the team."

The LTP team brainstorms about what the rover needs to do to stay on track towards new discoveries. The team decides what they would do in case they encountered unanticipated problems or results. This is where the interactive board helps the team. Just like announcers during a football game, they use it to sketch out alternative pathways for rover moves and activities.

As a team," Joliff explains, "we recommend long-term strategies and consequences of different alternative rover activities to members of the science team. Typically, one of our members helps design days of driving to ensure that the rover always moves in a direction heading to measurements and activities that contribute to solving key science issues and achieving mission-performance objectives. The 'documentarian' keeps track of daily scientific results and how they pertain to the overall picture and the main hypotheses being tested. The LTP lead keeps track of what all the other science groups are doing, how their results relate to each other and fit in the big picture and what the rover is doing in the upcoming sols." The benefit of having this system rather than a normal whiteboard is because this is a computer and it can store and organize all the notes and truly streamline the process.

Now that the field exercise is halfway complete, the planning team has a much clearer set of ideas about what they need to do to test their main hypotheses and outstanding questions. At this point, they are now looking six to eight sols ahead to ensure that the resources and capabilities of the rover will be used to the maximum extent, thereby achieving mission success.



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Last Updated: 18 August 2002

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