Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Mars Mission Day Three

Photo highlights:

EVA# 3 Working on the radio telescope (I am on the ladder)

EVA#3 Working with tools under in-sim conditions

EVA#4 Exploratory survey close to the Hab

EVA#4 Paul and I are almost there

EVA#4 On the summit ( I am on the right)

I woke up to a beautiful sunrise looking out of the East port hole by the engineering work bench on the upper floor. It was a great beginning for the day. Breakfast consisted of black tea and a packet of shelf ready bread with apricot jelly. Not bad at all. The crew briefing followed immediately thereafter as we had a packed day today. The primary reason is now that everyone has acclimated to living in the Hab in a very remote outpost everyone wanted to get going on their experiments. The secondary reason is that the weather report indicates some cold weather heading our way with possible snow tonight and tomorrow morning. You can imagine that if snow covers the ground, then the biological sampling studies and the geological sampling studies will be difficult to conduct until the snow melts away and will need to be postponed. So today was a bit of a rush and a mad dash to accomplish as much as we can. Last night, Paul, David and I repaired the last of the spacesuit backpacks so that we can be ready for an early start.

I had a variety of maintenance tasks to attend today but was easy to accomplish because I had two great helpers – Paul and David. Paul is extremely helpful and is covering a variety of engineering duties for us. This morning we checked out the GreenHab, pumped gray-water into the GreenHab filtering tank, opened valves in the water recycling system to replenish the water supply to the toilet, transferred water to the internal potable tank and checked the oil and topped off the fuel in the Rovers.

We also had a couple of engineering bugs to work out. The submersible pump for pumping water from the trailer potable water supply to the external potable water tank refused to work. So we took it inside and David took it apart and got it working, but when we took it outside it once again refused to work. So we left it outside to dry off and warm up and a couple of hours later we got it working and pumped enough potable water to fill our tanks. The point of concern is that we did not fix anything and a pump that works intermittently is an issue. In the meantime I will need to go through the Hab and find a hand pump if available. We also fixed some plumbing that was leaking, and David went to the Musk telescope and got both of the external HabCams operational. These were the two HabCams we worked on yesterday.

Bianca and Diego conducted the first EVA of the day and went off on a 3hr excursion and came back tired but were elated because they had a successful EVA.

Lunch was rehydrated Santa Fe black beans and rice and some delicious rehydrated split pea soup with rehydrated imitation beef bits. The soup was excellent. The rice was crunchy and could very well be that the water I rehydrated it with was not hot enough.

Our second EVA for the day was a geology survey conducted by Steve and Bianca. They went out to add to their collection of specimens from the Curtis Formation looking for micro fossils.

Our third EVA for the day was conducted by Paul, David and I to make an initial assessment of the assembly of the radio Telescope. It was a 48 minute engineering EVA and we were able to not only come up with an assembly plan, but we were also able to disassemble part of the existing structure and bring it back into the Hab for repair and reassembly. One of the biggest learning’s from this EVA was that we can use tools and conduct significant repair and assembly while in spacesuits under mission guidelines for simulation. The challenge here is the gravity, and that the tools we are using were not designed for use with spacesuit gloves. It was an exciting learning experience and we were particularly thrilled when we came to the conclusion that we CAN assemble this Radio Telescope under full simulation.

Our fourth EVA for the day was an exploratory EVA conducted by Paul, David and I. We drove the Rovers approximately 1 mile South West of the Hab and climbed a mesa that contained Morrison sandstone (upper Jurassic) as a potential EVA site for future geology research. Total EVA time was 45 minutes.

I am going to file this report early today (1900) so that I can have a more relaxing evening and perhaps go to sleep before midnight for a change.

Since tonight is a non-cooking day, dinner will consist of rehydrated Texas BBQ Chicken with beans and tortillas.

It was a very successful day for the Crew of MDRS-88. All Hab systems are functioning well and we are off to a great start with our science and engineering goals.

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