Flexibility is important on Mars. We started our second day with a definite schedule in mind. For
the morning, Cyprien and Dario were to complete their preparations in the lab, Carmel and Vince
were to complete the plantings in the Green hab, Christiane was to continue constructing the
apparatus for the solar cooker experiment, and I planned to take a closer look at the radio headset
issue and map out the crew tasks for the coming week.
At our morning brief I informed the crew that I would be advancing our daily timetable by half an
hour starting from todays lunch, and that we would be undertaking an EVA in the afternoon starting
at 13:30. This was to include myself, Cyprien who needs to collect samples for his Gene mining,
Vince and Dario who need to complete their ATV familiarization. Carmel was assigned to act as
HabCom, leaving Christiane to complete her Solar Cooker experiment preparation.
I soon realised that the problem with the radios was going to be harder to address than I thought.
We had already found that the multi-meter in the hab was not functioning, which limited my
diagnostic capabilities. We had six radios and four older headsets, only one of which had the
correct plug for our radios. There were two adapters which allowed the headsets with the incorrect
plugs to be physically mated with our radios. All headsets with the incompatible plugs had tags
indicating that neither the microphone nor the speaker were working, the remainder had a working
microphone but no speaker function.
We had obtained alternative headsets from Grand Junction which also required adapters, but these
did not function either.
I asked Christiane to help me test many permutations, and the closest we came to a working radio
headset was obtained by using a thin washer to push the adapterfrom the radio a small distance.
This allowed receive and transmit to work for a short time, but it was not reliably repeatable.
Most tests produced only a working mic or a working speaker if anything, but not both.
We had reached the stage of disassembling one radio for cleaning and trying to determine the way that
the different connectors were wired, when Vince called me aside and asked to be excused from
part of the EVA because the Green hab planting was taking longer than expected, and it was
important that it be completed as quickly as possible for the experimental results to be valid.
Rather than compromising the EVA by changing the timing or composition, I decided to swap the EVAs
that I had planned for today and tomorrow, so that this afternoon we would be having a two man
pedestrian EVA consisting of Cyprien (for more sampling) and Dario. The sampling EVA to continue on
from yesterdays EVA to North Fork (0519082 4252166) will now take place tomorrow. This will free
Vince for the urgent Green hab tasks, and give me more time to attempt to deal with the headset
After making the rest of the crew aware of the changed plans for the afternoon, I made mission
support aware of the headset status and returned to the investigation.
We observed that the only reliable external functionality for the radios was the microphone on
the old headset which has the correct connector. This suggested that perhaps the use of adapter is
the problem, and the one headset with a compatible plug works apart from a speaker which really is bad.
The only way to prove this seems be to re-open a radio and then physically connect the correct
contacts from a headset. But I decided not to pursue this option until getting feedback from
The revised EVA left the hab at 14:15, which was only 15 minutes later than planned - a big
improvement on yesterday, and returned to the hab at 17:30, and was inside at 17:51 after
completing some engineering duties. They successfully sampled 11 sites which will be detailed in
the EVA report.
After completing my diagnostic work on the radios, I assisted Christiane with the Solar cooker
construction, which was only fair as I had taken some of her time to help me with the radios.
I am now happy to report that mission support has already confirmed that replacement communications
equipment is on the way from Earth, so we are looking forward to more effective EVAs in the near
Self sufficiency is a worthy goal, but we are not quite there yet. It is always good to be able to
call for help from Earth.
Tomorrow I plan to resume spend the morning completing the schedule for the coming week
while the crew continues with their experiments,
and in the afternoon to proceed with the EVA originally planned for today.