OFJ Field Journal from Karen Deutsch - 11/9/95
EXTRA WORK TO BE READY IN CASE THE RECORDER FAILS AGAINAbout a month ago people in my work area were so overjoyed. We had started JAA, the first sequence of commands for Jupiter encounter. On paper, we had entered the mission phase called "Jovian Operations." "Earth-Jupiter Cruise," the mission phase we'd just finished, lasted almost three years. Both the asteroid Ida encounter and Shoemaker-Levy/9 comet collision observations occurred during "EJ cruise." But now we are in main mission. If we won the lottery would we continue to see it through?
Then there was the tape recorder anomaly. Without a tape recorder, the current mission design and current sequences for Galileo's computers could not be used. What would we do? The answer was...redesign, fast! Many people on Galileo have been working days, evenings, and weekends planning what to do if the tape recorder really stops working (not just scaring us into thinking that it was broken as it did three weeks ago). Also, project management is deciding how to modify the existing plans for the spacecraft's activities, so that we use the tape recorder less, and don't rely on it as heavily as we do now. For example, we removed all imaging of Io (Jupiter's volcanic moon) during our approach to Jupiter to simplify the real job of getting into orbit. Since we are not planning to return to Io, many of us are real disappointed with this decision.
Yesterday we held an all day review. People from each team got up and presented the results of the last three weeks of planning. How would we run the Galileo spacecraft without a working tape recorder? The meeting was both intense and a good place to take a nap. (I even wore a skirt, a real change for me.) The basic theme was that lots of software and documentation needs to be modified, and sequences of spacecraft commands need to be reviewed and changed, representing months of work for dozens of people who would otherwise be reasonably busy running the mission as it is. Much of this work will be done by people working extra, unpaid hours, at night or on weekends. But, if we did lose the tape recorder, we'd be ready to switch over to our alternate plans and continue the mission.
We haven't yet recaptured the feelings we had entering the Jupiter approach period, but the incredible team work under pressure to develop a realistic plan has been inspiring.
When I'm not worried about Galileo, I normally do mom things, such as worry about whether my daughter will get a good part in the Children's Theater Network's performance of Joseph and His Technicolor Dream Coat (Jan. 25 - 28, 1996 at the California State University at Northridge) and I work with my son planning his Bar Mitzvah.