EVA Report – November 26th

EVA #4 Report

The preparation of the 3D scanning device took longer than expected this morning, so we weren’t able to begin depressurization until 1:00 PM. Jordan, Ashton, Toruwa, and I hiked up to the top of Hab Ridge, searching for rocks that had enough detail. We surveyed the area for suitable specimens, but our scans kept running into problems. Since the regolith in the background for the loose boulders have a fairly uniform pattern and color, the scanner had trouble determining what it was supposed to scan. We’ll have to bring our own background with a randomized pattern.

Another issue that we ran into is that the practicality of using the 3D scanner on the field. Since it has to be attached to a laptop via a USB chord, we’d need one person to carry it, and another person to follow close behind while monitoring the status of the 3D scan.

The time that we were out took a surprisingly long time, by the time we descended the hill, it was about 3:00 PM. On the way down, Toruwa lost his footing and fell on his posterior. The fall seemed to deactivate the airflow fan in his suit, meaning we had to get him into the hab fast. By the time we got into the airlock, the inside of his helmet was already fogging up a lot. Since there were four of us, I went into the airlock with Toruwa, while Jordan and Ashton stayed outside, since they needed to further test the 3D scan equipment near the hab.

Due to the circumstances, the Commander ordered an emergency recompression, which took two minutes. Once the recompression was complete, we quickly opened the inner airlock door, getting his helmet off as quickly as we could. He was sweating profusely, and quite exhausted from the ordeal.

Jordan and Ashton’s activities lasted for another 20 minutes, reentering the hab at around 3:25 PM.

We succeeded in achieving what we needed to do on this EVA, but it’s really important to remember how risky it is to go on an EVA, because all it takes is one misstep, and the life support systems could go out.

This is all I have to report.

Thanks Mission Support!

Prepared by Brandon Ferguson

EVA report – November 25th

EVA #3 Report of Sol 3

EVA briefing took longer than expected. The fans on Space Suits #1 and #4 didn’t seem to be working properly. The LED lights for the attached chargers are currently displaying a red light. This will be touched on further in the engineering report. The stated purpose of our EVA was to test out the 3-D scanner on the field. Since it’s not operating properly at this time, we decided to bring two specimens back to the hab, so that they can be scanned here at a later time.

We finished decompression at 12:40 PM. We received a new shipment of gasoline for ATVs before our EVA. Ashton refueled all the ATVs from our activities from Sol 2. He completed refueling by about 12:50 PM. Toruwa and I took the rover, and Dean and Ashton followed in the ATVs. The Journey to the Stream Connector stop area took approximately 5 minutes

Once we parked, we walked about 50 meters to our first specimen, a softball-sized piece of green sandstone. We then found another suitable specimen, about the size of a small firewood log. We photographed and marked each site we extracted from, with plans to return these samples to there original locations at a later time. We returned to our Rovers by 1:20 PM, and began our recompression by 1:30 PM at the Hab.

We need to be clearer on the decompression / recompression time, as the inner airlock door was opened one minute earlier than it should have. I would recommend that the “official” decompression time be tracked by the occupants of the hab, as soon as the go-ahead is given by the EVA party.

Conditions outside were much warmer than expected. It’s a good thing our walking activities lasted for only about 40 minutes.

Communications between the members of the EVA party were concise and effective. Our Commander gave us phonetic alphabet designations based on our first name; for example Dean would be “Delta” and Ashton “Alpha”.

The EVA went smoothly and we accomplished all that we set out to do.

This is all I have to report.
Have a good night mission support!

Prepared by Brandon Ferguson
EVA Officer

EVA Report – November 24th

EVA #2 Report of Sol 2

We started our EVA at 11:50 AM. Jordan, Ashton, Toluwa, and I, each took an ATV, carrying cameras and other supplies in backpacks. We first stopped near the Stream Turnout Rd, and walked about 200 meters to an area with a large amount of dinosaur bones and petrified wood specimens. We spent about an hour in this area before heading north.

We arrived at the Lith Canyon turnout by about 12:20 PM. From here, we walked into the Lith Canyon area, careful not to step in the cactus gardens along the way.

We spent 2 hours here, exploring and photographing this area. There is a feature that is labeled on the map, called “The Pillar”, where the Copernicus Hwy North used to extend to. Although there are many features in this area that could fit this description, we found one particularly prominent column that could be “The Pillar”. We’ll have to investigate this further.

We returned to our ATVs by around 3:00 PM, getting back to the hab by 3:25 PM.

Have a great night Mission Support!

Prepared by Brandon Ferguson

EVA Report – November 23rd

EVA #1 Report

Today we conducted an out-of-sim EVA to the Dinosaur Quarry area, starting at approximately 3:00 PM. Ashton, Toluwa, Jordan, and I went on this EVA, each of us on our own ATV. The main purpose of today’s EVA was to drive the Blue 300 ATV longer than 5 km, so that its battery could recharge.

Before we set out, we did our ATV / Rover training, which lasted for about 20 minutes. Then we had to jumpstart the Blue 300 ATV, which had a low battery. By about 3:00 PM, we had the blue ATV running and ready to go. It took approximately 15-20 minutes for us to get there.

Once we arrived, I had a bit of a scare trying to restart the Blue ATV. It wouldn’t start at all! Then I realized that it was still in High. So I switched it to neutral and it started without any problem.

We spent over an hour in this area, following the canyon from the quarry site until we ended up in Lith Canyon, at the site where my EVA for crew 182 was conducted. We passed by one of the sites where I previously took regolith samples from. Just around the corner from this site was a large pile of petrified wood. Amazingly, these specimens look like fresh kindling wood, ready for the fireplace.

By around 4:30 PM, we made our way back to the ATVs, drove back to the hab, and returned by approximately 4:50 PM.

Have a great night Mission Support!

Prepared by Brandon Ferguson

EVA Officer

EVA Report – November 17th

EVA #10 Report

Today’s EVA began at 10:00 AM, involving Camila, Julio, and I. The Survivalman crew was filming our EVA, including the planning process, communications tests, putting on the spacesuits, and our decompression. The goal of our EVA was to go to Lith Canyon, collect three regolith samples, and return to the Hab. Each of the EVA crew boarded an ATV, with Les Stroud on his own ATV, and his camera crew on Deimos. I had Camila lead the way out so we could keep our ATV caravan nice and tight. The trip there took about an hour, because they needed footage of us along several different stretches of Cow Dung Rd. We would hold our position as they moved ahead, then we would move forward once they signaled that they were ready.

Once we arrived at the end of the Lith Canyon road, we proceeded on foot for about a kilometer westward. We had to be careful with our route finding as this was an area that none of us had been to before. We made sure to photograph the landscape at certain points so it would be easier to find our location later. Once we descended into the canyon, we made our way to an exposure with red and white regolith layers, taking one sample from each type. Once finished we walked further down the canyon where there were several eolian rock formations. There we collected our last regolith sample from a white exposure, turned around, and headed back the way we came. We spent about 2 hours walking in the Lith Canyon area, returning to the ATVs by around 1:20 PM. They didn’t need any more footage for the trip back, so we made our way back to the Hab by around 1:50 PM.

Today’s EVA was abnormally warm, especially all the walking we had to do. This was the longest EVA that I’ve had to do on foot, and was very challenging. I’d estimate that we walked a total of about 2 km over uneven terrain. It’s amazing how heavy and uncomfortable the suits felt on the first EVA when we just walked around the Hab. Now I feel a lot better in the EVA suit, even when covering much longer distances. Knowing this, I’m glad we didn’t plan any really long EVAs during our first few days of Sim, as it does take some time to get used to those suits. I’d definitely recommend that crew members take their time getting used to the suits, as their bulkiness can be surprising.

For our EVA, we managed to obtain the regolith samples we needed and the Survivorman crew was able to record our EVA operations.

This is all I have to report for today’s EVA.

Have a great night Mission Support!

 

Prepared by Brandon Ferguson

EVA Officer

EVA Report – November 16th

EVA #9 Report
Today’s EVA would’ve started at 11 AM and ended at 2 PM. Our goal would’ve been to go to Lith Canyon, collect samples from the Salt Wash Member, and return to the Hab. Our EVA for today did not take place, since we needed additional time to clean up the Hab before Survivorman arrives. Also we needed to figure out our transfer arrangements so that we’ll be able to get to Salt Lake City in time to catch their flight. EVA request coming soon!
Prepared by Brandon Ferguson
EVA Officer

EVA Report – November 15th

Note before reading that nobody was hurt, and no property was damaged. The red ATV was successfully recovered and returned to the Hab. We had to go out of Sim since Shannon needed to come to help rescue the red ATV. Now on with the report…

EVA #8 Report (Operation Rescue Rover)

The sole purpose of our EVA today was to bring back the red ATV to the hab, whether that meant driving it back under its own power, or towing it back. We equipped ourselves with jumper cables, wrenches, pliers, and any other tools we needed for repairs.

We left the Hab at approximately 12:15 PM. In our party was Shannon, Carmen, Atila, and I. Shannon and Carmen manned Deimos. Atila and I piloted two of the blue ATVs. We kept within following distance of each other, passing Tank Wash, White, Yellow, & Green Moon without incident. Passing Sagan St, we arrived at the red ATV at approximately 12:50 PM.

Once we arrived, Shannon attempted to start for good measure. As expected, it wouldn’t go. So, as we concluded yesterday, the battery was most likely drained due to attempting to start it multiple times. So we decided that we’d need to jumpstart the red ATV. We got it running at about 1:05 PM.

We connected the jumper cables without incident, attempted to start the red ATV, and success! It worked like a charm and started right up. We had Carmen ride the red ATV with everyone else in their same vehicles.

Our return trip proceeded without incident. We returned to the Hab at 2:20 PM, refilled the gasoline on the ATVs, and plugged in Deimos.

Surprisingly, after going all that way, Deimos lost only 6% charge, according to Shannon. I did observe yesterday that Deimos was set to High instead of Medium, when I took control of it. I was leading in the red ATV that day, and at times, would go a little bit ahead and wait for Deimos. This may have compelled him to use the High setting to keep up with my ATV. In future EVAs involving an ATV and Rover, I’ll make sure that we caravan together, so as not to put pressure on the Rover driver to keep up. My observations yesterday about Deimos still gives us an upper limit for its High setting. I’d estimate that the High setting drains the battery about 15 times more quickly. This is a good reason why crew members using the ATVs should match the speed of the rovers, and stay within visual contact. Preferably, the slowest vehicle should lead; in order prevent the above from happening, along with other potential safety issues that can occur when crews become separated.

There was no additional EVA today, since the rescue operation took up much of our time for the day. This is all I have to report. Have a nice night mission support!

Brandon Ferguson

EVA Officer

EVA Report – November 14th

EVA #7 Report

Note: Before reading, know that no one was harmed, no rovers or property was damaged, and that as of now, the only thing that is out of place, is the red ATV that is sitting alone on Copernicus Hwy about ~0.8 km south of Sagan St. Now on with the report…

I’ll start from the beginning as usual. We were informed by Shannon before our EVA that the tank in the Red ATV was in fact, half full, and would be able to make the trip to yellow moon and back. We were also informed that it had a reserve gas tank, in the event the first one ran out. There’s a knob on the left side that the rider is supposed to be able to turn to access the reserve fuel. Knowing this, I thought that in the event of running out of the first tank we’d be fine. We were not!

Camila, Atila, and I began our EVA began at 11:45, shortly after the four new rovers were delivered. Our goal was to collect a few of plant & regolith samples in the yellow/green moon area. I led with the ATV, with the rover behind, careful to stay within sight and contact range. We took our first two samples without incident, photographing each site for future coordinate reference. After leaving the green mars area, I stayed within contact range to see if they wanted to stop along the way. Much of the landscape near the road was rather devoid of vegetation, so we continued down to Sagan St. I was aware at this point that this was much further than we had planned to go, but I wanted to make sure Camila got all the samples she needed.

We continued about 4 and a half kilometers south, until we could see cars passing by on Hwy 24. I knew we were far, but as far as I knew, the rover was stated to have a 25 mile range, and the ATV probably has at least a 2 gallon tank, and that last gallon would be able to get the ATV back. After all, even if it did run out, I still had that extra reserve tank right?

So about 0.8 km south of the Sagan St and Copernicus Hwy junction, the ATV ran out of gas. I tried to use the switch that would siphon the reserve fuel tank, but I couldn’t get it to turn. It had an “off” and an “on” position that I could turn it to, but whenever I tried to get it to turn from “reserve” to “fuel”, it wouldn’t budge. We tried starting it at the “off and “on” positions to see if that did anything, but no luck.

I realized now that I was on a three person EVA with a two-seater rover and a non-functioning ATV, which meant we had to leave someone behind. I painfully regret having to do that, but I knew that trying to transport a crew member in the cargo bin was not an option. I couldn’t stay behind because we’d need my navigational knowledge to get the rover back, and there was no way I would have Camila stay. So we unfortunately had to leave Atila behind with the ATV. The plan was to return to the hab, charge Deimos to full power, rescue Atila, and bring him back home. I was informed that Deimos could charge relatively quickly, within a couple of hours. It was risky, but we had to try it. We made this decision at about 1:30 PM.

I drove the rover, making sure it was driving in Medium. We passed Sagan St, Green, Yellow, & White Moon, making it to the main road. I was concerned because the rover’s charge was dropping fast, faster than it should have been. This was very surprising, because, after driving nearly all the way down to Hwy 24 on Copernicus Hwy, turning around and stopping where the ATV ran out of fuel, the rover’s charge was at 63%, at 18 km. Keep in mind, that Deimos was at full charge when we left the Hab.

By the time we got to Tank Wash, it was reading in the low 20% range. By the time we got to the Reservoir, it wouldn’t even give us a battery reading, only displaying “Low Battery”, and flashing a red light. I soon realized that the vehicle was starting to have a really tough time going up hills, especially when trying to climb up the road near the reservoir. For a moment, it seemed like we wouldn’t make it up, but luckily we barely managed to make it to the top. As we passed Galileo Rd, the power output continued to decrease, making me doubt if we could even make it to the hab at all. By the time we rounded Pooh’s corner, I felt like we were going as slow as one of the actual rovers on Mars. The rover was just barely crawling along now. Even the slightest bump or divot in the road would almost bring it to a halt.

Now that the hab was in sight, we attempted to establish contact with anyone listening. No response.

So we manage to make it to the hab, within an inch of the battery giving out. It barely had enough juice to go over some uneven ground, just so I could park it. We plugged it into the extension cord to charge it. We attempted to contact the hab once again.

Nothing.

At this point, more concerned about our stranded crewmember than with Sim, we attempt to contact Shannon, but to no avail.

So we decide that our only option is to break Sim and contact Shannon. We entered through the Northern Airlock, to Carmen, who was very surprised to see us. It seems that neither Carmen nor Julio had heard our transmission. As neither of them had a walkie talkies on them, this is another issue that’d have to be resolved later. The time now is about 2:40 PM.

Now that Sim was broken, we went to Shannon and told her everything. The plan now was to get gas from town, come back, deliver the gasoline to Atila with Deimos, so he could drive back under his own power.

So Carmen and I took the Hab Vehicle into town, retrieved the gas, and returned to the Hab. But now, there was a new problem, Deimos wasn’t charging. It was still reading “low-battery” on its display screen instead of a proper battery reading. What this meant was that none of the rovers would be able to deliver the gasoline to Atila, and safely return to the Hab. Not to mention, the road through the White Moon area was far too treacherous for the Hab Vehicle to get through. So I showed Shannon approximately where he was on the MDRS map, and we decided the only way we could get the gasoline out to him, was to carry it out there on foot.

Luckily for us, we wouldn’t have to take the same route the rovers did, as we could just climb up to hab ridge, and beeline it towards the stranded ATV. A direct route on this path would be over 2 km away, which could take up to an hour. So Shannon, Julio, and I set out with the gasoline, and made our way up the steep, unstable slope. We reached the top of Hab Ridge at approximately 3:20 PM, carefully searching the landscape for any sign of our stranded crewmate and ATV. Soon, we spotted what looked like a black dot, just southeast of Skyline Ridge. We moved as quickly as we could, with a gasoline tank in hand.

After nearly 40 minutes of walking across the open landscape, we made it to Atila, who was still in his full gear and spacesuit after all this time. We filled up the tank to the ATV, and attempted to start it.

Unfortunately, it seemed now that the ATV wouldn’t start. Instead we heard what sounded like clicking noises near where the battery was. We thought that maybe if could check the battery connections that we could get it started. That didn’t work. Then we tried to put it in 1st gear, and see if we could push it and get it going. That didn’t work either. So we resolved to leave the ATV behind and return to the Hab with Atila.

The return trip went without incident. We got everyone back and no one was hurt. Shannon told us that she would have to rescue it from the vast emptiness tomorrow.

We learned quite a bit of useful information during all this that I think is important to share. As I stated before, I had assumed that the Rover had a range of 25 miles as stated before, and that the ATV would have enough juice, as well as a reserve tank, to return home. My assumptions obviously led to all the events described above, and could have potentially endangered my crewmates. This means that I have to plan future EVAs much more carefully. Now that we do have ethanol-free gas available, we will be able to top it off before starting each EVA. I calculated that the ATV must have covered about 18 km before running out of fuel. If the ATV was indeed at half level as estimated, then that means a full tank only has a 36 km range. My recommendation would be to turn at 15-16 km out, assuming anyone could even get that far from the Hab by road.

What happened with Deimos’ was very surprising to me. It seems that after a certain point, the rover looses its charge at a faster rate. The total distance the rover traveled I calculated to be about 29 km, or 18 miles. It’s my recommendation that EVAs involving Deimos should not go out further than 12-13 km, even of the battery guage is reading over 60% charge.

Also, regarding our inability to communicate with the hab, it is critical that the In-Hab and EVA communication equipment is thoroughly tested. Although went through our routine Comms test before the start of our EVA, we didn’t check to make sure that the walkie-talkies in the Hab had their volumes loud enough. I think from now on that any crewmembers that are staying in the Hab during EVAs should have a walkie-talkie on their person, at all times, until the EVA party is safely recompressed through the airlock.

This is all I have to report on the events of today. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me.

Prepared by Brandon Ferguson

EVA Officer

EVA Report – November 12th

EVA #5 Report Sol 9

We began our EVA at 10:40 AM today. We started a bit late because we needed more time to prepare Carmen’s flight suit and test our communication equipment before this EVA. Since we didn’t need to use the rovers today, Julio and Carmen tried the Exploration suits. They didn’t seem particularly more comfortable as compared to the normal Suits. We walked towards the North Ridge area, until I could find a slope on the western slope that was shallow enough for us to climb. Once we found a shallow enough slope, we took samples from different levels of the hill. We took four samples, three from light-dark purple layers of regolith and one from a rusty-colored layer. We took several photographs of the surrounding landscape as well as the sample sites for later reference.

No falls or accidents on this outing. Sample Acquisition was successful! We began recompression at 11:55 PM. Distance covered was about 1.2-1.5 km total. Sample collection and ground covered went much quicker than expected. It’s important to note how quickly the shoulders and upper back can fatigue, even though we were only out for over an hour.

Prepared by Brandon Ferguson

EVA Report November 10th

EVA Report Sol 7

The EVA started at 10:20 AM instead of 10:00 AM, since I wanted to make sure the crewmembers were properly briefed on radio Comms voice procedure. The red ATV had some trouble starting like yesterday, but once I got the engine running, it didn’t have any problem starting. We drove the rovers to our first location along Cow Dung Road where we took a couple of plant and regolith samples. Afterwards, we proceeded to Tank wash, where we found a large desert shrub that was holding onto a large mound of sand with its root system. EVA operations went smoothly and we obtained all the samples we set out for. Once we returned, we attempted refueling the ATV, but the nozzles on the empty gas containers weren’t compatible with the filled containers, so we couldn’t safely fill up the ATV. Will we have compatible gas nozzles when the ethanol-free gas comes in? Aside from that, we returned early and begun decompression by 12:15 PM.

For missions in hilly terrain, I have to brief the crew members on squatting while walking up or downhill.