Commander's Log, Mars Date 1321227.7
Two experiences today made me acutely aware of how engineering maintenance is different on Mars. The first was a malfunction of one of our ATV rovers during the first moments of an EVA. The second was the difficulty performing vital repair work to an aging GreenHab structure.
I suited up with three other away team members excited for our crew's only planned rover excursion. We walked out of the airlock, down the steps, and mounted the nearby rovers. Only three started. As Commander, I instructed one member to move to my rover and attempted to start his. It did not. I transferred EVA command and returned to the airlock as the away team headed off on an geology adventure. It was a long 3 minutes waiting in the airlock, alone in my spacesuit.
Later in the day, the GreenHab Officer and I continued our multi-day repairs of the GreenHab structure. The building foundation has settled over time and one half of the structure has fractured away from the central wall. We have been repairing the resulting gap with supplies brought from Starbase Lowes in the Grand Junction System. This gap is debilitating to a greenhouse as it ruins all thermal insulation during freezing Martian nights. Daily minimums have been less than 15 degrees Fahrenheit, well below levels which would kill plant life. An external air breach of this sort on Mars compromises human survivability as well.
Both of these serve as examples of how a remote habitat must cope with maintenance on its own. Things will break down on Mars. Sometimes, this is an inconvenience like missing an ATV ride. Sometimes, this is life-threatening like a structural hole to space. I surmise that most scientists travel to MDRS expecting only a research station. What they find is what NASA astronauts find at the ISS: a habitat in constant need of repair using limited supplies.
This should motivate engineers to expedite development of manufacturing technologies for space and planetary surface applications. Things like 3D printing, ISRU, robotic repairs, and smarter designs are a must. I'd love to go more into these and other solutions, but I'm too tired from fighting fractional gravity up on a ladder shoving caulk into crevices.
Life, it seems, has gone Full Martian. There's no looking back, but there's plenty of room for improvement.
Commander Check-In Report
Crew Physical Status:
Eva Depart Time: 10:15
Eva Return Time: 14:40
EVA Highlights : Despite having three instead of four members the EVA team met all mission objectives and successfully completed out first ATV traverse. We successfully retrieved 6 gallons of soil for the GreenHab as well as numerous geological samples.
Officer Parish and I spent several hours working on the structural repairs to the GreenHab to patch the gap.
Report Transmission Schedule:
Science Report (Geology)
Plans for Tomorrow:
No EVA. Continue routine work. Film and upload weekly crew video.
1) We need DG to bring water on Sunday
2) The biologists have been using a blowtorch in the place of a bunsen burner to maintain aseptic technique in the lab. The blowtorch is nearly out of fuel.
Thank you Elon Musk for such a wonderful, advanced observatory.
Tonight we hold a mini symposium where each crew member will present their non-MDRS personal work to each other.