Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Every Little Thing's Gonna Be Alright

Oatmeal again this morning. No big deal, I keep getting better at making oatmeal with various dehydrated fruits. Today Mr. Apricot, Mrs. Blueberry, and everybody's favorite little Miss Sliced Apple got thrown on the menu this morning. I must say, they made a heck of a bowl of oatmeal. Amazingly, breakfast was done early and the morning briefing went rather smoothly. This is in part due to the extensive planning that we do at night for the subsequent day.

We proceeded to the rover garage, outside the front door of the hab, to test out the rovers and top them off with gas and oil for the day. Laksen and Diego took the rovers for about an hour to collect biological samples for the EVA suit ergonomic study. During this time, I fabricated a few tool belts that would be used by some of the crew members for the next Mars Walk. I had to find a way to carry a geological pick, camera, compass, and still have an accessible compartment for the geological samples. This might sound easy if Home Depot is close by, try being 32 million miles away from the closest Home Depot. All I had to work with was a D-clip, electrical wire, tape , a seatbelt, a multi-tool, and a holster. My dad starred in his own show when I was young, it was called "Macgyver". I never saw this show, but I've heard a lot about it, and he passed a lot of good traits on to his boy. I was able to make two belts that held both the camera and the geological pick safely, and had a place for the geological samples to be stowed. Let me see you do that John Locke! (You can see the tool belts in the pics; the seatbelt held the pick close to my knee so it wouldn’t keep hitting me when I walked)

The geological walk was a lot of fun. We traveled 1.70111428 × 10-13 light years, or nine miles to get to the site. The site is named Family Crest. There were no trails on the way out, and there is no GPS yet here on Mars, so it was a monumental task to get to the site. This is why Commander Steve was there. Commander Steve was the pilot for many of the early manned reconnaissance missions that flew over most of the land around the habitat. He knows this area like the back of his hand. When we arrived at the site the views were spectacular. As soon as we turned the rovers off we saw that we were standing next to a deep crevice known as an arroyo. This thing had to be over 200 meters wide and about 100 meters deep. Dave wanted to ignite the human propulsion system that has been recently added to the suit in order to get to the mesa that we wanted to take samples from. I told him I thought this wasn’t the best of ideas, as I turn back to the rover Commander Steve had already activated his Ironman style afterburners and was heading straight for the side of the mesa. Dave and I stood and watched, half comically, half awestruck. We followed Commander Steve. When we got to the site Steve wasted no time gathering samples.

After gathering all the needed samples there was nothing left to do. The right thing to do would have been to head back to the rover and the hab and call it a day. But were on Mars, and mission support is in the Netherlands. "All I want to do is have some fun!" We did in fact head back to the rovers but not to the hab. There is about a quarter the gravity here on Mars than there is back home on earth. This means joy-riding is not just much more fun, its even a little bit safer. Note in case mission support is reading this: we did stay on the trails at all times we were on the rover for the EVA. Upon our return the other half of the crew needed to collect some biological samples and go meteorite hunting. We came in through the airlock, re-acclimated ourselves, and entered the hab. We took off our Analog Simulation Suits and helped our fellow crew members to get dressed for their Mars walk. (Did you catch the acronym for the space suit?)

Laksen didn’t have the approved Marstonaut beanie that NASA had provided us with, I took this opportunity to give him my Florida International University beanie . He wore it with pride, and played the part well. I went out to the rover garage and assisted Bianca, Diego, and Laksen in starting the rovers and took some pictures of them departing.

They just got back to the hab. Looks like they had a heck of a walk. Did you notice that I haven't mentioned a problem with the plumbing, electrical systems, or life-support systems. I knew when I made that bowl of oatmeal this morning that, as my buddy Bob says, "Every little thing's gonna be alright!"

Thanks Murphy,
Astro Paul

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