Commanders ReportNovember 5, 2014
We are now on finally Mars! This morning Crew 142 woke up to the start
of its first full day in sim. And we have been getting used to the
fact that everything is harder on Mars.
We entered sim last night, and to celebrate, we commenced our once
every three days (per crew member) shower roster. Water is valuable on
Mars, and we go to great lengths to minimise our use, and use of
showers is rationed both in frequency and duration. We have decided to
schedule all crew members within the same 24 hour period to allow the
bathroom to be sterilized and allowed to dry completely between uses.
This is intended to help prevent the return of the mould which was
present on our arrival, and to reduce the resources required to
maintain cleanliness. As it happens, we have not succeeded in
achieving a water temperature much above freezing, so water
consumption for this has been modest.
The failure to obtain hot water was not the worst of our bathroom
difficulties. Last night the HSO reported experiencing difficulties
with the toilet backing up, and clearing the blockage required some
sustained effort with a plunger and consumption of a quantity of
precious water. The problem was even worse this morning, possibly
because of the freezing temperatures overnight. In response we have
relaxed out water discipline regarding liquid waste, and are now
flushing after each visit.The problem seems to have become less
severe, but the HSO is monitoring the situation.
Apart from the engineering difficulties, our day started as scheduled,
with the morning briefing taking place at 8:30, after which the crew
tended to their various projects and we re-convened at 9:30 for a
science meeting to review the objectives and resource requirements of
the various research projects that we have planned.
The objective of this meeting was to assemble all the information
required to construct a program of activities for the next 11 days,
including EVA scheduling.
The outcome of our meeting was as follows:
Solar Cooker Experiment - 2-3 man days to setup, plus approximately 30
minutes at the start and end of each EVA to take readings. The
experiment is a proof of concept which requires an as yet unavailable
data logger for more controlled measurements.
Permafrost Study - Requires 2 to 4 pedestrian EVAs of 2-3 hours duration.
Sea Ice Study - This experiment has not yet been approved, but would
probably involve extended EVAs to measure mechanical properties of
ice. It could be generalised to a study of any frozen liquid.
Martian Soil Planting - Four of Six pots of soil simulent have been
prepared. 3-4 man hours are required, to complete the preparation. No
EVA activity is required, but about 2 man hours per day will be
required to take measurements at 9:00 and 17:00 each day.
Approximately one man day will be required at the end of the mission.
Green Hab tasks - About one more hour will be required to complete an
inventory, followed by about 2 man hours for seed planding. After
this, about 1 man hour each day for maintenance. No EVA requirement.
Cyanobacteria Experiment - The cultures have been prepared and will
require temperature monitoring on an ongoiing basis.
Sampling/Gene Mining - Will require 3-4 EVAs, including some supported
by ATVs. The aim is for a total of 30 samples from different sites,
each taking approximately 20 minutes to collect.
Drone based mapping and Recon - Several days of preparation will be
required before undertaking any EVA based activity. The earliest that
this could be included in an EVA would be Friday.
At the conclusion of our science meeting, we attempted to define a
suitable mission statement summarising our goals and objectives, but
this proved unexpectedly difficult so after nearly an hour we
adjourned the discussion till the evening.
After a delayed lunch and allowing time for completion of experimental
preparations, we started a later than planned EVA which was performed
in two phases. The first two participants - myself and my XO, suited
up at 15:30 and exited the airlock to work on completing construction
of the dish for the solar cooker experiment. This construction had
commenced on Earth, but to enter sim on schedule, we had to accept the
challenge of construction work in a space suit, and in particular
provided an opportunity to become very familiar with the dexterity
limitations of our new gloves. Needless to say, this considerably
added to the challenge. After an hour, the remainign EVE team members
exited the airlock and travelled along cow dung road to a nearby
waypoint (North Fork at 0519082 4252166) to compare the accuracy of
our map calculations with what we see on the ground. The short EVA
also provided the delayed ATV practice for four members of the crew.
By the time we arrived back it was already starting to get dark, so I
think I am going to have to plan on all EVAs returning by 16:00 when
we start venturing off the road.
Tomorrow I plan to construct a basic schedule from the information
obtained this morning, and include in that a more extended EVA that
will allow time for some sampling. We are also having some problems
getting the radio handsets which from Grand Junction to operate, so
need to schedule some time to investigate that.