MDRS Crew 188 Journalist Report 01FEB2018
Mount Phoebus: A successful EVA by the Astronaut, Angel and MacGyver
Author’s name: Dr. Sarah Jane Pell
In underwater space analogues where the Astronaut trains for EVA simulations in Neutral Buoyancy, two divers support them: Angel who is responsible for the astronaut’s air-supply, and MacGyver who finds the tools and fixes everything so that the Astronaut can perform and accomplish the mission exercise objectives.
Today MDRS Crew 188 – EVA 4 with Julia De Marines (EV-4 Commander), Dr. Ryan Kobrick, and me (Dr. Sarah Jane Pell) were the embodiment of the successful Astronaut, Angel and MacGyver team. We set out to challenge ourselves and physically condition our bodies for the up-coming Martian Olympiad challenge by carrying our advanced life support systems, carrying out biometric and human factors research, creative research, biological survey and continued systems testing. We walked from the Habitat to Mount Phobeos and through incredibly diverse terrain. I carried a large pelican case containing the Insta360 Pro VR Camera system, an emergency whistle/compass/thermometer/light, and a bag containing a rubber ball and our national flags. Kobrick carried wearable cameras, a Garmin GPS, a toy car, and his body wired up with a range of wearable bio-monitoring systems. De Marines carried the first aid kit, camera, sampling bags and small tools for collecting biological material, and an Earth flag.
Heading out, De Marines found that her WalkieTalkie was only short-range, and therefore Pell and Kobrick had to maintain comms with HabCom. On route, the team found datum markers, chlorophyll specimens, and recorded 360 video of the Mars terrain, with the habitat and Mt. Phobeos. Upon the mountain ascent, Kobrick struggled with condensation and CO2 build up in his helmet. De Marines became his guide, his Angel. Half way up, Pell noticed that Kobrick had lost the sole of his boot. She “MacGyvered” the scarpa with her emergency whistle, tying the sole to his heal and ankle so that he could continue. Upon reaching the summit, his second boot sole came off. This time, Pell used shoes laces to keep it on so that he could descend. The EVA-4 Crew held their national flags aloft in the wind for photos and video taken by the HabCom crew in the Science Dome some 1mile away. After the celebrations and cool down from the wind and shade from the midday sun, Pell and De Marines led Kobrick down the descent route without incident, and the team followed the GPS directions back to collect the Insta360 Pro that had been recording the summit attempt in the midday sun. On route back to the Habitat, the crew found an enchanting small red canyon that we followed. It caused a brief disruption to communications, but it was incredibly scenic and led to some interesting sample discoveries including some ridged amber deposits. On the other side of the canyon, we found an open plain, and in our state of exhaustion and excitement, we played catch with the ball. Such a simple gesture, amplified our sense of fun and exploration. We had spent almost 3 hours in our suits and adjusted our gate, our balance, our sense of bodily extension and coordination to facilitate the augmentation of our life support systems and our apparatus: for this reason, playing with our coordination, dexterity, visibility and reflexes was itself a joyous discovery process. We continued on, with the habitat in sight, only to realise that Kobrick had dropped his walkie-talkie, and we had to back track to find it in the desert. With good humour, and an ease and openness for continued teamwork, problem solving and cooperation, we turned back with our payloads and made light work of our tracking. De Marines found the radio and we continued back to join the rest of the crew supporting us from HabCom. We were greeted with tall glasses of Gatorade, and water, and helped with our equipment, not before measuring our beginning and end total weight/mass and weight loss after the EVA. There were many adventures and learning curves today, and working to overcome these little challenges felt like exactly what it was that we came here for. On a lighter side, we felt that we were training for bigger things, and mused over our planned activities for a future Mars Olympiad. As it happens, the future Olympiad may not only be a test of individual performance but of team dynamics, endurance, and cooperation: where every successful crew, rotates the roles of the Astronaut, the Angel, and the MacGyver.