The second EVA of our crew rotation took place today, which saw a three person crew of Danielle DeLatte, Andrew Henry, and Scott MacPhee take the ATVs out to a site some 5kms from the hab. The EVA started with the usual donning of space suits, and airlock cycling. Once outside on the surface of Mars, the crew undertook some routine engineering tasks to ensure the smooth operation of the station. The crew then proceeded to the science mission, which had two parts. In the first part, the EVA planning software being developed by Andrew Henry and Danielle DeLatte was tested in its first EVA. In this experiment, an EVA is first planned on a 3D terrain rendering, which is then synchronised with a smartphone based application. The smartphone acts as an arm-mounted computer, guiding the astronaut during their EVA, and giving visual feedback. The software performed admirably, guiding the crew members between their waypoints. The second part of today’s science mission was to acquire a GPS trace of the local roads around the station. This will contribute to the EVA planning software by providing vital contextual visual information to the user. The outcome of this activity was also successful, and a clear trace of the road was captured.
We were greeted with a beautiful sunny day today, which revealed finally the full beauty of our surroundings. This area truly is un-Earthly, with deep red soil and a landscape full of alien formations. The EVA today involved taking out the All Terrain Vehicles(ATV) for the first time, which proved to be a muddy affair. A plan will need to be developed to clean the mud off the ATVs during a future EVA.
In order to relax a little, the crew watched a film last night. It goes without saying that it was a sci fi flic, and it resulted in a vigorous debate about the nature of reality. This was a nice distraction from our water situation. Water restrictions are still in effect, and we don’t yet have a permanent solution to our ruptured tank, but it looks like we will get a resupply mission at some point to top us up.
Today was also crew member Scott MacPhee’s birthday, and the crew celebrated with some freshly baked oatmeal cookies, an extremely welcome treat!
Tomorrow is another EVA, with the second flight of the quadcopter, stay tuned to find out how it goes!