Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Mars Mission Day Eight

NOTE: We had a problem with our satellite connection yesterday (Monday, January 18th) and the internet was down almost the whole day and because of that I could not complete my blog post for the day. Since we are in a vey remote location our primary means of communication is through a satellite uplink. This is also to simulate communications on an actual mission to Mars. Now there is also a bandwidth limitation imposed on a daily basis and that is where we ran into a problem. Usually we transmit around 50Mb of data an hour but it appears that one of the crew’s computers had an automatic download of 250Mb between 8am and 9am and exceeded our download limit. So for the rest of the day we had an extremely slow internet and only Gmail was accessible.

I woke up around the same time and looked through the east port hole and was pleasantly surprised to see that it had snowed during the night.

View through the east port hole on the upper deck

Bianca took this picture from the Musk Telescope around 0800

After breakfast, Bianca and I went on a GPS tracking EVA (EVA#20) north east to the Hab looking for a trail called Cactus Road. We had a real hard time finding the trail as it appeared to have been washed away. After almost an of hour of searching we came across an uncharted trail and followed it all the way south until we could see the telephone poles on Highway 24. We tagged this new trail and came back to the Hab around Noon. During this EVA we came across a canyon with spectacular sedementary layers (below).

Morrison Formation with sedimentary layers

With the internet down we did not have access to email so we took the afternoon to catch-up on our reports (daily reports to Mission Support, the Food Trial Survey and the Johnson Space Center Survey on Crew Habitat Architecture).

In the afternoon Paul, David and I conducted a second EVA (EVA#21) for the day on another GPS tagging survey to the west of the Hab along a trail called Sagan Street high on a mesa above the Hab. We rode our Rover’s (Viking 1 for me) along dusty trails and on our return we came across an area that contained thousands upon thousands of fossil shells. Even though this mesa is right now at an elevation of 4250 feet, at some point in time millions of years ago it had been a sea bed. We watched an amazing sunset before we headed back to the Hab.

Paul and I trying to figure out where the trail goes

Watching the sunset from Radio Ridge Road

Bianca and David outdid themselves and cooked a spectacular dinner of pasta with pesto and a meatless pasta sauce and sweet corn muffins, and to top it off we had fresh sprouts that Diego had grown in the GreenHab. Our first and only fresh food since we got here. What a great ending to the day.

With the internet down I decided to go to sleep early for a change and turned in around 2100.

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