"We switched computers to get to a standard state from which to begin restoring routine operations," said Richard Cook of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. ... The spacecraft remained in communications at all scheduled communication windows on Wednesday, but it did not send recorded data, only current status information. The status information revealed that the computer had not switched to the usual daily "sleep" mode when planned.In other words, a setback but not a particularly scary one, and one for which the systems were well prepared. However, it happened just as analysis of the first subsurface sample—of a type of mudstone or soapstone—was in process. Data had already been taken from the 'Sample Analysis at Mars' (SAM) organic chemistry instrument and the 'CheMin' X-ray system, but there is more to come once the A-side computer is fixed.
Richard Hoagland, of course, could not resist interpreting this as another example of a "convenient" malfunction allowing the masonic/nazi/magician elements within NASA to do their fell1 business in the dark. He turned up on Coast to Coast AM last night, misreporting the facts in important respects and mispronouncing the name of his "friend"2 Craig Covault (Covault is the doyen of aerospace journalism. The amazing depth of his reporting on this issue can be sampled here.)
Hoagland then said that several hints had been dropped in public recently indicating that a space age sleight-of-computer was imminent. Among these were:
- William Shatner's appearance in the Oscar telecast on 24th February, with a "time travel" theme.
- Use of the term sequestration (meaning hidden)3 for the mandatory US budget cuts that took effect on 1st March
- President Obama's use of the term Jedi mind-meld as he bemoaned the fact that the sequestration could not be averted.
Words almost fail me as I contemplate how utterly illogical these propositions are. The Oscar show would have been conceived and scripted over the period October 2012 - January 2013 (the announcement of Seth MacFarlane as host was made on 11th October). You'd have to imagine a phone call from Charles Bolden to Anne Sweeney, President of Disney-ABC, around about 15th October.
-- Please hold for the NASA Administrator."
-- Good morning Mr. Bolden, to what do I owe the pleasure?"
--Good morning Ms Sweeney, or may I call you Anne?"
--That'd be fine, Chuck."
--Congratulations on your choice of Seth MacFarlane to host the Oscars. Fine idea. We here at HQ have been following that young man's career with interest. Now that we have no manned spaceflight program, we're turning our attention increasingly to showbiz."
--Well, thank you. We expect to have some fun with Seth."
--Yes, well, actually, fun is what I'm calling about. See, we expect that one of our computers on the Mars rover will fail along about next March, and we'd like to use the opportunity to carry out some highly secret operations. We thought it'd be a great idea to use the Oscar telecast to drop a public hint about that."
--Er... maybe I'm not following you. If these operations are highly secret, why would you want to drop hints about them?"
--We here at NASA love to play games with the public, Anne. We particularly love playing mind-fuck games with pseudo-scientists like Richard Hoagland and Mike Bara. What we have in mind is for Bill Shatner to come on your show and fool around with the idea of time travel. That should be enough of a tease, and Bill doesn't have to know he's doing it for us."
--Do you think people would get it?"
--Sure. Nobody could fail to understand the connection between a not very funny comedy routine and a computer failure that hasn't happened yet. I mean, everyone got the idea when we inserted all that code into John Carter of Mars. Right?"
--Y'know, Chuck, you may be batshit crazy but that isn't such a bad idea. I'll have my people get back to your people about this later."
(and similar calls to the White House)
1. "fell" in the Shakespearean adjectival sense: "Sinister, malevolent". I love using surprising words.
2. My guess is that Craig Covault is Hoagland's "friend" only in the limited sense of "I've seen him at NASA press conferences." I could be wrong. In that sense, he's just as much my friend, come to think of it.
3. Read about sequestrations here. The term was first used in 1985.