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To MARS with MER - RESEARCH/ers
ATLO Logistics Manager Mars Exploration Rovers mission
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
This last (convoy) set a new record. We did the twenty-six hundred miles in approximately sixty hours, which is pretty good time, and realizing too that all of us stayed within the speed limit. Some people think we do these trips, because of what we're hauling, we only drive thirty-five or forty miles an hour. That's far from the truth. That would be one of the biggest hazards we could create for our convoy by driving those speeds. We drive what the speed (limit) allows us, we drive what the equipment allows.
We have equipment on board that's monitoring our ride so we know how good a ride the hardware's getting, and if we hear or see that we're having some problems we slow down accordingly. We have instrumentation on board that will alert us if we get into a situation where we see too many G's on our flight hardware taking place in our trailers. We'll usually stop, get out and check it, make sure everything's okay and then drive accordingly. There's times when we have to drive totally in the left lane (Ed. i.e. the higher-speed "passing" lane) because the right lane is so rough we're concerned about a hard ride.
You're continually on the radio. It's definitely not a pleasure trip. When we do these, people say, "Hey, I'd really like to do that." I say, yeah, it's fun until about the California-Arizona border. I said, from then on, we only talk when we need to, usually, because it's a very hectic trip.