Monday, October 20, 2008

Day 4: Safety briefing and Trajectory Simulation


There won't be a long update today, since I had to attend briefings and work on our trajectory simulation for most of the day instead of shadowing people and taking pictures. We were joined by four more visitors of the German Mars Society and had a project-internal morning meeting to discuss our go-ahead plan and status. Everything seems to be going well. In the afternoon, the site operators held a joint briefing regarding launch prospects and safety. It looks like, while the winds won't be perfect, we are still scheduled to launch on Wednesday morning. One potential issue surfaced involving a missed opportunity to do an RF-interference test between us and another experiment on board, which will have to happen tomorrow morning. Other scenarios such as contingency planning for launch aborts etc., and their effect on our battery life, were discussed. The safety briefing was necessarily serious, as expected from any undertaking involving high explosives and accidents have happened. Our use of cellphones and controlling potential sources of static discharges are highly monitored, as well as access to the restricted areas during countdown.

As far as the trajectory simulation goes, Luciana and I are preparing a general trajectory briefing for our team tomorrow. Our actual trajectory is determined by the Rexus 4 operators, but since we have the service module and re-entry vehicle which detach from the rocket, a rough idea of the flight paths is desired. We are using the same program developed by the University of the Federal Armed Forces, which I adapted for use with MIRIAM during my summer internship. Since MIRIAM is a technology demonstrator for a Mars mission, we do not expect the re-entry ballute to survive re-entry on Earth, and much depends on when exactly the balloon will burst.

Lastly, I will share some pictures, courtesy of Jürgen.

MIRIAM arrived with the nose cone of the rocket. It took some convincing of customs officials to determine the legality of the shipment.

The Nike and Improved Orion solid propellant stages of our carrier rocket.

Members of the MIRIAM Team and German Mars Society briefing in the morning.

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