OFJ97 Field Journal from Laura Barnard - 2/7/97Finally Friday!!! Yeah! It has been a long week. I have fixed half of the damaged data files, and I have several things going on today that are urgent, so I will have to fix the rest Monday or Tuesday of next week. It is a huge task that takes a lot of time to do. I have to "merge" several different types of files together and model them with a special type of software that we have. The software actually counts all of the resources, and accounts for what capabilities the spacecraft has. It then can generate reports that show overuse of the tape recorder, conflicts with too much data in the downlink data stream, and conflicts between instruments. Actually loading the files into the software isn't just a simple matter of sticking the files together either; all of the various parts have to be in the right time order, and all of the general file types have to be loaded in a certain order as well. I then generate reports from the models. The final reports and files will be put on CD-ROM disks for archiving so that in case this happens again we have a CD to restore the files.
Another part of my job is responding to all the pleas for help. The color printer doesn't work, my computer didn't back up last night, my monitor won't turn on... the list is fairly endless! I sometimes know how to fix the problem, but there are times when it is just easier to call someone else. The team could do that too - but I think that they like asking me first because it is one easy step. They call me, and I keep bugging people until the problem is fixed. Sometimes it is something simple, and sometimes it requires a part that won't get here for two weeks. Today I had to find out why people were not getting their computers backed up at night. We have a system that during the night while we are gone, contacts the Mac computers and backs them up (a different set of people each night). One person didn't have the software loaded correctly, and the others were all on Wednesday night backup. Apparently the tape didn't load correctly, so it didn't work that night. Finding out all of this information and correcting it took an hour of my time with the help of the system administrator.
Seeing how it is Friday - and a payday - several of us rode the local shuttle and went off lab for lunch. There were nine of us that day. Sometimes that group is smaller, but as the days are nice and the work is exhausting more of us leave the lab for a break!
When I got back I did a job that is very complex and gives me nightmares. First, you have to know that earlier in the mission the tape recorder got stuck and didn't move when we commanded it to move. We really thought that the tape was broken. This was going to be a *serious* problem, since we needed the tape recorder to store our data--if the tape recorder didn't work, we'd receive far less data. Not a pretty picture! Luckily when the tape cooled after several days of not being used, we sent commands to move it backwards. The extra tension helped the tape came loose. Since then we are *very* careful with conditioning the tape, and what it does in every sequence.
So what is my nightmare job? Basically I keep track of what the tape (on that tape recorder) is doing. This means figuring out what the tape will be doing during the sequences that we are planning, as well as the history of what the tape did in the past. Everytime that we stop the tape, move it, etc. we make a note of that motion. A spreadsheet program then calculates the risk involved in getting stuck. My report goes directly to the Mission Director and the Science and Sequence Office Manager. That's what gives me nightmares! I always worry that I will do the calculations and make some mistake, and the tape will actually stick even though my report said that it wouldn't!
Well - the weekend is starting so I better head home.