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To MARS with MER - RESEARCH/ers

John W. Wirth
ATLO electrical lead
NASA / Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Pasadena, California

P2K: What do you do on daily basis?

John Wirth: I am responsible for all the electrical activities out here on the PHSF floor, such as all the cable configurations that we go through. All the test engineers are directed through me, and any procedure we’re running out here, we’re actually responsible for, so we’re the interface to the systems team, which is up in the control room.

P2K: There are a huge number of things that have to go right: how do you guarantee that you’ve got everything working perfectly?

John Wirth: The tough part for us is that this vehicle has got a lot of different configurations. There’s the rover, the lander, the backshell, the cruise phase, and since in system configurations they’re all put together when it’s doing its thing - flying through space - we have to cable up to it everyday in a different configuration and that’s actually made it tough for us on this project.

We started out with a small number (of cables) in the beginning, we had a couple of different configurations, but after two years of working on it now, we’ve got over 150 cables. Originally we only expected 10, so on a daily basis it’s challenging for us to try to figure out what the configuration is, but we’ve just done it so many times now that we’re actually good at putting it together like we would when it’s flying.

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