Lettuce growing in the Vegidair
Lettuce growing in the Vegidair
Journalist report, 03/02/17 – Sol 18: Completing tasks.
Today’s EVA had two purposes: find what happened to the atmospheric balloon we lost yesterday, and recover the seismometer, now running for more than two weeks. Xavier was EVA leader, and decided to lead a new human factor experiment, following up on his emergency procedures research: the EVA was conducted without any radio contact, using scuba diving gestures to communicate, and limiting drastically communications. This situation is of course caricatural: a scene in which every member of the team would have a radio failure, is not only very unlikely, but also the scenario where it happens immediately after leaving the airlock and keeps going on during the whole EVA does not exist for the simple reason that real astronauts would just have moved back immediately into the station, aborting the EVA.
The point was here to exaggerate the problem, in order to test the worst-case scenario, at every stage of the EVA. In this kind of situation, having had a strong briefing before going out is essential, to minimise the need of communications afterwards. It is also crucial to always watch his teammates, not to let somebody alone, or to lose visual contact. This is why moving in the vehicles also required frequent stops, to check if everybody was following, a thing we usually do by radio. The engineering check was done assuming that the crew received today’s habcom, Victoria, but only her, in order not to forget something. Louis, staying in the hab also could remotely monitor what Arthur was seeing, from his Optinvent glasses.
After having completed every task they were asked for by Victoria; Xavier, Arthur and Mouâdh first went North by foot to check the balloon site. They only found the rope and its attach, supposed to be inside the balloon platform. This is how it failed: the connection between these two piece must have been too weak to endure the wind force. The irony is that the camera we removed yesterday was precisely in this gap, so that without removing it, we might have preserved both of it. But I’m not sure that Xavier, the video camera owner would have liked to give it another try… To end with the EVA, my three colleagues had no trouble removing the seismometer from its hole. They came back early, after one hour outside.
The afternoon was quiet, as everybody was working on his final reports or productions. Tomorrow is (already ?) our last day in simulation, so that we were all focusing on trying to end our work properly. It is strange to realise how short the simulation seems to have been, whereas we are already feeling at home in this little hab already. It surely will be strange to leave on Saturday to go back to reality.
Louis MANGIN, crew journalist MDRS 175
There is no such thing as silence.
Sometimes it is good to take a break from all the noise inside the
Hab: we are constantly surrounded by the deep hum of the diesel
generator, the regular drop hammer of the water pump, the proverbial
quarrelling of the card game (“why on earth did you throw away that
ace of spades?!”), the occasional scratch of the walkie talkies, the
hunger-triggering rotation of the bread machine…
That might partly explain why Xavier wanted to perform Sol 18’s EVA
with the radios turned off. Other explanation: it allowed him to take
notes on how natural is the set of gestures we established, based on
scuba diving. The EVA had three main objectives: first, I tested the
newly-implemented vocal recorder of the AR glasses during the
engineering check, given that we could not transmit the measurements
to the Hab.
Then, Xavier took the lead to investigate the area where the balloon
was last seen. Still silently, Mouâdh, Xavier and I recovered the
anchor and the rope that had visibly been violently pulled out of the
balloon’s platform. No more evidence have been found on the balloon’s
destiny, but it is likely to have fallen down at night when the air
inside could no longer be heated by the sun. Given the wind direction
yesterday, it must have gone south of our settlement, many miles away.
The final task we performed was to recover the seismometer before the
end of the mission. The briefing we did yesterday was precise enough
to allow us to pack everything silently and go back to the Hab with an
ATV and a rover. In the end, it appears that we were perfectly able to
communicate instructions with gestures only, if we were correctly
prepared. Normally in such a situation with all the radios off, the
safest decision would be to abort the EVA and go back to the Hab, but
it seemed important to test it and improve our protocols.
At noon we figured out that we had just enough dehydrated eggs left to
mix them with flour, sugar and milk, following the traditional French
recipe of crêpes. The psychological effect was overwhelmingly
positive, in these times of end-of-mission food shortage.
The afternoon was very calm, everyone working on his part of the
Mission Summary Report, listing the results of our experiments and
repairs. It seems that we have been very inspired: now we have to cut
half of the text to meet the format required!
Commander of the silent Crew 175
Green Hab Report – Sol 18
Report written by: Victoria DA-POIAN (Crew Biologist)
Date : 03/02/2017
Functionality: The heater in the green hab is working well. Today was a very sunny day. I checked the temperature in the GreenHab this morning. It was around 35 Celsius degrees around 10:15 AM while the temperature in the tunnel was around 7.6 Celsius degrees. I switched on the cooler (on stage 2).
The GreenHab temperature was 19 Celsius degrees at 6:00PM while it was 8 Celsius degrees in the tunnel. I watered the seedlings this morning and I did this afternoon.
Status: The existing seedlings in the greenhab are continuing to grow well. There are spinach, lettuce, radish, and beans growing very well in the small pots. I planted a new lettuce today.
The Vegidair is functionning well. The pump is working well (it was making strong noise in the morning, so I added water). The day/night cycle seems to have some issues, we wll investigate that.
Unfortunately, there will not be a new crew to take over after us so I am worried about this.