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- Astrology has long argued that the alignment of the planets governs human affairs. Science usually scoffs at this. There is, however, an important exception: sending spacecraft for planetary exploration. In late May and early June, 2003, Mars will be in position for Earth launch. Two Mars Exploration Rovers (MER) will rocket towards the red planet. The rovers will perform a series of geological and meteorological experiments, seeking to examine geological evidence for water and conditions once favorable for life. Back on earth, a small army of surface operations staff will work to keep the rovers running, sending directions for each day's operations and receiving the files encoding the outputs of the Rover's six instruments. (Mars is twenty light minutes from Earth. The rovers must be robots.) The fundamental purpose of the project is, after all, Science. Scientists have experiments they want to run. Ideally, scientists want to be immediately notified when the data products of their experiments have been received, so that they can examine their data and (collaboratively) deduce results. Mars is an unpredictable environment. We may issue commands to the rovers but there is considerable uncertainty in how the commands will be executed and whether what the rovers sense will be worthy of further pursuit. The steps of what is, to a scientist, conceptually an individual experiment may be scattered over a large number of activities. While the scientific staff has an overall strategic idea of what it would like to accomplish, activities are planned daily. The data and surprises of the previous day need to be integrated into the negotiations for the next day's activities, all synchronized to a schedule of transmission windows . Negotiations is the operative term, as different scientists want the resources to run possibly incompatible experiments. Many meetings plan each day's activities.
- NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS) Collection.
- Document ID: 20030014741.
10th International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction; 22-27 Jun. 2003; Crete; Greece.
- Copyright, Distribution as joint owner in the copyright.
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