Journalist report, 02/25/17 – Sol 13: Water games.
We started this sol with very bad news: the water pump we use to refill the indoor tank from the outdoor one was not responding, and we only had 4 gallons (15 L) left. Enough to flush twice, to take two showers, to drink for a bit more than one day… But we had to wash dishes, and cook, which also requires a huge amount of water because of the food we have to rehydrate. We didn’t hear any noise coming from the pump so that we believed that it was an electrical issue, or a problem coming from it, but kept in mind that the temperature during the night would have allowed it to freeze easily. We decided to first go on EVA, so that we might see if there was any problem outside.
The EVA was supposed to start with an outdoor water tank refill, but we found out that the portable pump we use for it wasn’t functioning too. It had stayed in the engineering airlock so that it might be frozen too. We aborted the refill and the EVA started by giving another try with the solar balloon. This time it went right: Simon, in charge of the experiment, leading this EVA deployed it along with Arthur, Louis and Mouâdh. They used the spot we determined before, and let it fly there for the whole EVA, while they left for “the Moon” again, this time with Arthur and his sextant, in order to let him measure coordinates in this new location. At the same time, Xavier was trying to find out what was wrong with the pump, and one hour later, it started again as usual. It must have frozen during this night, even if it was in the airlock. We had solved one problem, but the main pump was not working yet, even if we had tried to put hot water on the outside pipe coming out of the tank.
The EVA went fine on the North, with some new beautiful shots from Louis, while the balloon was doing fine, oscillating slowly from the ground to 50 meters high. When they came back, we had prepared every pan and bowl we had in the hab, for an emergency refill. The 4 gallons we had didn’t allow us to cook the meal. The EVA members, back from their mission, spent 15 minutes and lost a lot of water filling up all the stuff we had let in the engineering airlock. About 5 minutes after all this trouble, the main pump decided to restart working… Water must have frozen in the outdoor pipe too. Anyway it ended up well even if we had to move around 10 gallons of water in the stairs (that are closer to a ladder by the way).
Tomorrow, we will begin with our last experiment: simulating emergency situations in EVA. Victoria and I will be the only one to remain in the hab in the morning, while 4 crew members will experiment it being led by Xavier.