OFJ Field Journal from Dave Atkinson - 10/11/95Wednesday, October 11 - I am now at the annual Division for Planetary Sciences conference. This year it is in Hawaii, which is a beautiful place to hold a conference, but makes it hard to sit indoors with the beaches 20 feet outside the door! But I overcame the temptation and I am returning to the mainland as pale as when I left.
Today we received a NASA press release outlining a possible problem with the Galileo tape recorder. While not yet panic stricken, I have to admit that I will have some trouble sleeping for awhile. Originally, the probe data was to be sent back to Earth in real time, with the tape recorder used as a backup. Since the High Gain Antenna failed to open, the probe mission was reconfigured so that the tape recorder was the location of primary probe data storage, and some spare memory in the central computer on the orbiter was the backup. And, I remember being told several years ago that, if the tape recorder failed, then I would probably lose the frequency data that is used for the Doppler Wind Measurements, my experiment. I still have these concerns, but since we are only 57 days away from Jupiter my guess is (and this seems to be confirmed talking to the probe project manager) there is not enough time to reprogram the spacecraft in such a way so that my data is lost. So, assuming everything works as planned, my data should still be available. However, if (and this is a very big if) the tape recorder is really damaged, we do not have a backup for the probe data anymore, and we will not receive as much data as we had originally planned. I have to keep falling back on the fact that, if sending a spacecraft to Jupiter was easy, then
1) someone would have done it before or