The cover slide for my upcoming presentation on MSL, the 2012 kick-off to the Planetary Science and Exploration Research Forum (better known as PSERF) at the University of Western Ontario's Centre for Planetary Science and Exploration (CPSX). Check it out this Thursday, January 12 at 12:30 PM in Biological and Geological Sciences Building room 1084.
In writing this post, I had considered another title "What you won't read on this blog this year." The reason for this is that as a part of the mission, I'm bound by what we call the "Rules of the Road." A document like the RotR is not uncommon on large projects and there have been similar agreements in place on each of the past missions I've been involved in. The reason for the document is simple - it's easier to determine beforehand how data will be shared, how to interact as a team, what it is appropriate to discuss with the public and press and what rights different team members have to publication of results. In short it saves a lot of trouble down the road. If you're curious, an early version of this document was appended to the NSPIRES call for Participating Scientists (see the PSP Package pdf starting around page 123 or so).
The net effect of my participation as a PS means that I am bound by this document. Since this blog is a public forum, it comes under the scope of the terms described therein. So don't expect to read much about what is happening behind the scenes in this space. Don't expect news of new discoveries to be broken on this site. Instead, I will be restricting myself to what is publicly available, including the contents of the PDS.
But that doesn't mean this space will go dark! I can always talk about anything in the public domain, so long as you all understand, dear readers, that I do not purport to speak for the project. Furthermore, there is a procedure outlined in the RotR for clearing things like blog posts: in those cases where I want to present my own experiences on the team alongside the publicly available facts, I will seek dispensation from the project to do so. I will post those entries only if the project feels them to be appropriate. It's only fair to all the scientists and engineers who have worked on this project since 2003 and before that I take these steps. After all, they have been kind enough to let a "Johnny-come-lately" like me participate and I want to show my respect for their effort and hard-earned success.
So there you have it, the preliminaries are out of the way. I've got an exciting year ahead and I hope to be able to take you all along for the ride in some small way.
Note: This post has not been cleared by the MSL Team. It contains only information within the public domain and my experiences outside of my interaction with the MSL Team.