Today marked the start of our multiple research projects, starting bright and early at 0700 with our exercise study. This morning we had the pleasure to do the high intensity workout. This was a harsh change for the crew which had not done much physical activities in the last three days of traveling. Nonetheless we all survived the ordeal and all of us felt calm and refreshed afterwards. There will be two levels of workout intensity throughout the two weeks: high and low intensity. Hopefully this will help us make recommendations on using exercise to improve crew moral for future crew living on Mars, especially for longer durations stays.
We then all proceeded to prepare for the rest of the day’s activity. Our Crew Commander Chelsea Iwig worked with our Health and Safety Officer, Ellie Reeves, on the space suit glove evaluations. Final frontier design, a space suit engineering company, has contracted us to perform multiple usability tests on their new EVA glove design. We are especially interested in how these gloves fair in operations that require fine motor skills, such as repairing wiring in electrical panels as well as activating small knobs and switches. Meanwhile our crew engineer, Chui-Miin Lee, and our Science Officer, Eric Watkins, inspected the EVA suits and oxygen tanks in order to report to mission control which ones were malfunctioning and in need of repair. Thankfully, only a couple of them were faulty and we were still able to proceed with our first research EVA in the afternoon. One of the things our EVAs are supposed to help us evaluate is the difference, usability-wise, between using regular GPS devices versus touchscreen devices integrated in the space suit sleeve. However, because of the current gloves at our disposal we would not have been able to use the touchscreen device in question. Hence, to solve that our First Officer, Antoine Juhel modified our current gloves to make them compatible with our armbands GPS devices.
After lunch, three of our crew members got a chance to go out on the Martian surface, and perform various research experiments in the hopes to answer the age-old question of whether there has ever been life on Mars. I was on that EVA team so I can report a firsthand account of what this experience was like. The oxygen from our pack was quite different from the oxygen back on Earth, and made for a rather rough first hour of hiking and bouldering the Martian landscape. This was accented by the fact that the space suit helmets currently at our disposal have a design flaw that results in condensation building up in the interior of the helmet which significantly impaired our vision. By the time we were heading back to the Hab, we were all quite exhausted and could barely see the person in front us. As a whole it was a great experience and we are looking forward to do more EVAs, but today’s experience definitely reinforce the fact, that Mars is indeed an extreme environment.