Crew 208 Journalist Report
Author: Erika Rydberg
Drone Control to Major Tom: We’re Flying.
Today was our first full day on Mars, it was a beautiful day here at the Hab with the sun shining and some beautiful seasonal weather. We had two walking EAVs planned today to begin some drone testing with two groups. We realized in order to fly we needed some landmarks to help guide our flying, as we were testing out the use of two different controllers and needed to fly in patterns to properly test our drone controller usage. Amanda, an engineer by trade, made a crafty large cone out of neon paper and a 3D printer filament cardboard box that could be weighed down by rocks. Suited up and with four cones made, the first group led by Dean left the Hab, while those left behind worked on reports, research and made lunch of quinoa and chili. After lunch, we split up again with our second group going out to attempt drone flying.
We attempted flying figure-of-eights and square patterns with both drone controllers. For some (including this here crew journalist) it was the first time ever flying drones and hearing words like “yaw” which to some may sound more like a cowboy’s exclamation than a flight term. Yaw means to “oscillate about a vertical axis” and just like that we were practicing the moves that captains and pilots know by heart. Drone flying while in a spacesuit is one of the best things we’ve done yet – how many people are able to say they’ve done just that – worn a space suit and flown a drone? Flying the drone, one thing one might notice is that there are limited controls, no matter which controller you use. The controllers may seem simple at first glance, but the process of navigating the drone is a challenge, as you have to think about moving along three axes. Understanding the challenges of moving through space in the air or on the ground is a challenge on Earth, let alone on Mars. While some of us were focused on the sky, our other two crew members were working on the ground and getting some further exercise, using a bicycle to charge a battery.
Takeaways: whether you’re up in the sky or down on the ground cycling, Mars is the place to be!