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To MARS with MER - RESEARCH/ers
Deputy Science Team Chief
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California
P2K: What have you discovered from the ORTs (Operations Readiness Tests) so far? Has everything gone exactly according to plan, or what?
Deborah Bass: Actually everything has not gone according to plan, which is great. We would prefer to find out all of our problems now so that we have time to fix them rather than finding them out on the surface. So, no, things haven't gone exactly right. We discovered that part of our uplink process-i.e. so once we've decided what we want to do with the spacecraft and we've turned it from sort of this high level notion "take a look at that rock" into what we call "activities"-that part of the process needed a fair amount of work. So we've identified that, and we are running a bunch of tests to make sure that we do corrections that will work.
P2K: Putting your science hat on, your geologist's hat on-what to you is the key aspect of this mission that will add to Sojourner, that will add to Viking, that will add to what Odyssey and MGS have seen from orbit? What's the science goal, the holy grail, of this mission.
Deborah Bass: Looking for water. Looking for liquid water. Looking for evidence of past liquid water. If we can discover that one of these environments was conducive to having liquid water on the surface in the past, then we will go a long way to increasing the amount of knowledge that we have on Mars.