I had intended to do a more complete update later, but here's the quick version.
1) AO-51 is still in eclipses for the next 4-5 days. Soon we'll be
back in 100% sun (until the end of December.) That means within the
next several days we should be able to keep AO-51 transmitting all the
time. In fact, we'll need to in order to keep temperatures down!
2) In recent days I've had to resort to shutting down the voice
repeater in order to grab some telemetry files from the bird. This is
very important as we are nearing the end of the eclipse period and we
want some good data for current use and for future reference. We
keep the voice repeater shutdowns to a minimum and try to do it during
the AM passes over the eastern US. But they are necessary at this
time. Sorry for any inconvenience.
3) Currently AO-51 has been automatically turning itself OFF and back
ON because of the power budget. You'll see this more often as it
first comes out of eclipse and as it begins to enter eclipse. We
continue to fine tune this, but our goal is to keep it transmitting
when there is enough power--without having the bird shutdown until
manually commanded back ON by one of the command team members.
4) Come January, we won't see much of a break from the eclipse periods
for a long, long time (there is one short window of full sun, but it's
about 2 weeks long in late Feb/early March 2011). The command team
has been using the recent eclipse period to learn how to become more
efficient in the use of the power management code on board. This
allows us to get the most "bang for the buck" out of the available
power. It's pretty complex and versatile. We've learned a
tremendous amount this eclipse period, but still have more to learn in
the future. And there will be a future for AO-51 :)
I hope that helps to reassure you...that is my goal!
AO-51 Command Team member