Journalist Report – October 25th

Journalist’s Report
Marge Lipton, Crew Journalist
Oct 25, 2018

SOL 4: Lots of many small steps before even a tiny leap

Today’s EVA’s were focused on what is still needed before a Virtual Reality training application of the MDRS can show additional terrain via drones. You wouldn’t just want to bring your equipment without doing thorough reconnaissance.

The morning EVA had Jim, James, Robert and Max headed to Candor Chasma. It was estimated to be a 3 hour trip from end to end. While data was being fed back to the Hab, it was noticed that the GPS coordinates (which were being taken for the drone based photogrammetry of terrain for the VR shoot) were not the same as the lat/long on the map in the hab. There are apparently a few different ways of taking coordinates but the videographers are sticking with the GPS readings they personally took on their survey.

Readings were also taken at regular intervals for the battery levels of the rovers, Spirit and Opportunity. Spirit had reasonable readings at the 1 hour 45 minute mark, but Opportunity, had a level of 40% leading the group to turn back. Luckily they did, because yards away from arriving at the Hab a bright red light turned on. Today’s mistake seems to be that putting Opportunity in high gear uses up more juice. So instead of a planned 3 hour EVA, at close to the 2 hour mark, Opportunity needed to be pushed back to the station. It’s a good thing it was almost home by then. The crew is discussing ways it may or may not be possible to bring an extra battery or generator on the rover for just such an emergency in the future.

Robert, Max, Shannon and Marge were on the afternoon EVA. They took Spirit and Curiosity out to the Burpee Dinosaur site. Once there, Shannon took out his drone and flew it over the area to get an idea of what would work. We also took GPS and iPhone coordinates to be used when the actual VR shooting occurs. The group got into the rovers and headed to Lith Canyon after that, but found too much tumbleweed and greenery for it to be Mars.

As for feedback on the space suits, a few us found that while they were fine when walking or sitting still, riding in the rover over some of the potholes caused the helmet to bump into chins and teeth.

Overall our mission has been a success in that it will greatly facilitate the time when the future VR operation occurs.