Operating a lander is quite different from operating an orbiter or flyby craft. Navigators steer orbiters’ paths long in advance, so scientists can plan observations months ahead. Rovers don’t have the luxury of predictability. Each day’s activities can’t be planned until controllers back on Earth have received data that tell them the condition and state of the spacecraft, and the lay of the landscape surrounding it. A team can do strategic planning – make a list of top-level science goals – in advance, but to accomplish the strategic plan, the team has to develop a new tactical plan each Martian sol. To make things more complicated, Martian sols are not quite the same length as Earth days.
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