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