My first EVA
By Niamh Shaw
Crew Artist & Journalist Crew 173
The weather today was stunning, deep blue clouds contrasting the red earth of the Martian landscape that surrounds the Hab, our home for the next 2 weeks. And a perfect day for my first ever EVA- to the uninitiated, that means Extra Vehicular Activity, which loosely translates in to an outside expedition. We had received extensive training from both the previous crew on Saturday and Shannon, the MDRS Director. So we all have the theory part downpat. But you can read about things, watch other people doing things or be told things, or even learn things, but nothing compares to a real experience though, does it?
The restrictions of your movements while wearing that suit makes you appreciate how many months of training and preparation must go in to each EVA that they complete. I spent the morning preparing my camera equipment and testing various devices that I could attach to my person to capture the mission as best I could. Trying to troubleshoot for any potential problems that might crop up during EVA. You take so much of your mobility for granted when you can wander aimlessly about nature, touching and photographing anything you want and for as long as you want. So how can you prepare for something you have absolutely no frame of reference from which to lean on? And as you might have imagined, once I put my suit on, everything became difficult- simple camera things like being able to focus, or even choose a frame size for a photo. Clicking the shutter. Altering the aperture. All pretty much impossible with heavy gloves and a large glass visor between you and the eyepiece of your camera. Thankfully I brought a really good wide angle lens along with me, so once I selected my light settings, I was pretty set. But most of my shots were simply potluck. And thankfully with the beautiful light of the day, I struck gold on a few of them.
But photography aside, the experience was a special one for me. I joined Roy and Michaela on their geological field trip exploring, prospecting and sampling in the vicinity of our Hab. It’s kind of hard to explain what it felt like, except that, in my spacesuit I got a new found respect for astronauts who have completed EVA’s in space. As someone who genuinely wants to don a real spacesuit one day and become a participating member of a legitimate space mission, the EVA brought me once step closer to that reality. And the understanding of how much you rely on your support team to help you in and out of the suit, but also remaining in constant contact with you, there for you should anything go awry while you’re outside the protection of the Hab. And as our support crew were helping us with our suits, and we left the airlock to venture outside, I had a little moment. I know now what this feels like. I would be able to make a decent stab at an EVA on Mars if I had to. And as long as I have an awesome team around me, I could survive it. Thats nice. Thats good. Go Crew 173!
Oh and it’s my Dad’s birthday today, back home on Earth- Happy 78th Birthday Dad- hope you had a good one. We celebrated here on Mars with pancakes.
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