The past two weeks have been very productive for the crew's science goals. The four primary experiments all were successful and each team member learned a lot and contributed to Martian science!
Team Astronomy had several clear nights with good views. Braving sub-freezing temperatures, late nights, and early mornings, they captured several transits and even imaged comet Lovejoy. Initial data analysis showed the successful capture of one ingress and one more substantial near-complete transit. They continue to analyze the data.
Team EVA Planning Tool tested out the web interface and Android phone application in the field and added a few desired features based on new insights of needs. They successfully mapped out several of the main ATV roads, which are not easily distinguishable in the satellite images and will be overlaid in the web part of the software. Their work continues and both team members are excited to bring the software suite to the next stage. It is hoped that further development of the software will be tested on future ISU crew rotations. Collaborations with other MDRS crews are also possible — the team was informed that another long duration experiment will bring ten Android phones to MDRS.
Team Quadcopter learned how to effectively manipulate the quadcopter even with thick gloves. They implemented and tested a system of mapping low, medium, and high risk sites for human exploration. Original site selection was based on topographical maps and the team noted several differences and the importance of higher fidelity maps for analyzing the true landscape terrain. They also became quite adept at recovering the quadcopter from compromised positions. Most importantly, they captured breathtaking imagery of the surrounding landscape.
The Sociomapping experiment provided insight into the crew interactions and indicated strong team cohesion. The team was unsurprised by the results and enjoyed the graphics produced.
Several outreach EVAs were performed, including a collaboration between crew members and a few International Space University students. For one collaboration, the crew members used the rover, Phoenix, to capture images that will feed into obstacle avoidance and visual odometry algorithms. The crew members also filled out space suit surveys for another student studying analog spacesuits. Finally, the quadcopter was used to capture wonderful images that will be shared with students through subsequent presentations made by the crew and which will be uploaded to the team's website and Facebook.
It has been a terrific two weeks of science and analog fun on Mars! The team's emphasis on pair projects proved highly successful and each team was able to accomplish many of its goals.
Proud crew scientist signing off.