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Journalist Report
02/12/2014
Tereza Pultarova

Dust storm is coming

With only two days left, Crew 135 has started wrapping up the
experiments. Our on-orbit crew member
Vratislav received optical data acquired during the structural loading
test and ran a computer
simulation using the NASA-developed NASTRAN computer simulation program.

The non-disruptive optical measurement, involving a single panel of
the MDRS outer shell, was
performed during an earlier EVA by Martin, Elif, and Filip and was
part of a research scenario
considering the station being hit by a giant dust storm.

Using the data, Vratislav assessed the deformation of the station's
structure using a MERCURY
software system developed by his company Sobriety. Subsequently, he
created a computer model of the
MDRS in the NASTRAN code, showing the residual strength of the station.

The image shows shifts and deformations on the station's surface, with
different colours
distinguishing between the measured values.

Every crew travelling to Mars in the future has to be prepared for the
possibility of a Great
Martian Dust Storm. This phenomenon, caused by turbulence in the
Martian atmosphere, develops about
every ten years. Single storm cells blend together, forming a powerful
cyclone that encircles the
entire planet, with the raised dust hiding the Sun for weeks or months.

Though the atmosphere density on Mars is extremely low, with the
highest values about the same as 35
km above the Earth's surface, during a dust storm, the strong wind
raises large amounts of tiny dust
particles from the arid Martian surface, increasing the pressure on
the structure.

The winds buffeting the station during a passage of the edge of such a
cyclone could reach the speed
of up to 350 km/h.

As the station is already weakened by years of exposure to extreme
weather conditions and radiation,
the ground-based teams have to propose improvised solutions for the
crew to reinforce the base -
because of the dust in the air, the station's solar panels wouldn't
produce any energy and
communication channels with the grounds will likely be cut off.

Apart from Vratislav's experiment, Crew 135 has successfully concluded
head-up display testing,
demonstrating live video streaming from a Google Glass device worn by
an astronaut during and EVA
into an Android tablet located inside the habitat. The tablet
controlled by the HabCom.

"We experienced video lag as a natural part of the blue tooth system
that is designed rather for
shorter distances and visible range but we used it also for distances
of up to 20 metres, maybe even
30 metres, and through walls of a metal habitat," Ondrej described the
progress of the latest
experiment.

"We experienced three streaming drop-outs during the twenty minute EVA
but no restart was needed,
the system picked up the signal automatically again and everything was
fed forward from the glasses,
even the history that was not transmitted live, we received it with a delay."