Mars Crew 197 – Sol 1 – It’s a Wrap (Already??)
Marge Lipton – Crew 197 Journalist
We arrived at dusk last night and were treated to the soft luscious colors of a southwest sunset. Our crew faced earthly challenges like delayed flights and lost luggage, but persevered, fitting 5 people and too many pieces of luggage to count in a Nissan Pathfinder for the two and a half hour drive to the station. We squeezed everything in, but as newly minted Martians this became a bonding experience. Because it’s clear that besides all the engineering and technology in getting humans to Mars, it’s impossible not to take into consideration how best to get a diverse group of people to get along in such close quarters.
Our first day, today was the start of the MDRS season and involved a lot of housecleaning, from mopping and vacuuming, to setting up new posts to build the simulated pressurized tunnel allowing us to walk between different buildings. After the posts were pounded into the ground, we then WRAPPED the tarps overhead. Rovers had to be moved into position and the MDRS car needed to be taken in for a tune-up.
Crew members discussed what each wanted to accomplish on this mission, and tried to figure out especially, how we were going to remain in sim while also trying to get the best VR coverage of the sites James and Shannon wanted. In practice, this meant, to break sim or not wear a helmet or not on the EVA.
We were interrupted in our WRAPPING of the tunnel by rain, later followed by thunderstorms. So we took the opportunity to make WRAPS of tuna, avocado and tomato.
So as I said, that’s a wrap for today.
Operations Report 22OCT2018
Name of person filing report: Shannon Rupert
Non-nominal systems: Batteries for power system
Notes on non-nominal systems: Batteries arrive tomorrow and will be installed on Friday!
Generator (hours run): 24
Solar— SOC n/a %
Diesel – 80 %
Propane – did not check psi.
Ethanol Free Gasoline (5 Gallon containers for ATV) – 0 gallons.
Water (axillary tank) – 0 gallons.
Water (static) – 500 gallons
GreenHab water tank: 200 gallons
Water (loft) – Static to Loft Pump used – yes
Water Meter: n/a
Toilet tank emptied: no
ATV’s Used: (Honda, 300, 350.1, 350.2, 350.3) Honda used to move Deimos into charging position, the 350 that was not starting needed fuel, because I switched to the reserve tank and it worked fine. This is interesting, because it really did not look empty, it looked about 1/3 fuel. All ATVs, if used, should have a full tank when leaving MDRS. The three 350’s and the 300 have been taken out of sim service. The Honda remains, but only to be used if a rover breaks down and needs tows back to MDRS. Crews will not be trained on the use of ATVs, but one experienced person or chosen person per crew will be trained on how to tow.
Oil Added? no
ATV Fuel Used: 0 Gals
# Hours the ATVs were Used today: 0
Notes on ATVs:
Deimos rover used: Yes, towed into position in the charging bay next to Hab. I will work on it there,
Currently charging: Yes
Sojourner rover used: yes
Currently charging: no
Spirit rover used: no.
Currently charging: yes
Opportunity rover used: no
Currently charging: no
Curiosity rover used: no
Currently charging: no
HabCar used and why, where? Was used in the am to haul water, then driven to Bicknell for the following repairs: New windshield, new taillight, oil change and safety inspection. We will pick it up at the end of the week and get new tabs for it.
Crew Transport Vehicle: Yes, to drop the HabCar off and to get fence posts for the tunnel
General notes and comments: Work on the tunnel was started today but not finished due to (you guessed it!) rain. Most of the fenceposts were reset and four of the tarps are in place.
Summary of internet: All three accounts nominal. HAL is
operational. More information will be coming about this system.
Summary of suits and radios: Suits have arrived and are being charged for training in the morning.
Summary of Hab operations: All materials have been removed from in front of the Hab except the rocks, which we are referring to as “the in situ resource material”. I will move it over time.
There is a leak in the drain pipe from the summer work done on the plumbing. It is where the old science sink used to drain. For now, we are using the upstairs sink normally, and catching the water in a bucket using the contractor can fix it.
We will be turning on the hot water in the morning and conducting a propane test in the morning.
Summary of GreenHab operations: We began using the big blue water tank in the GreenHab. It is nice to be able to water from inside the building and will provide some temperature buffering capacity.
Summary of ScienceDome operations: Nothing to report
Summary of RAMM operations: Nothing to report
Summary of health and safety issues: nothing to report.
Notes, questions, concerns and requests to Mission Support: nothing at this time
Crew 197 (VR CrowdExplorers) is currently enroute to the station and will go into sim on Monday, October 22nd.
Crew 197 (VR CrowdExplorers)
Overall Goals of Mission
- Create a research whitepaper for using VR to train analog simulation participants.
- Pilot out MarsVR Training scenarios and script/enact new scenarios.
- Update interior/exterior scans for MarsVR future releases.
- Capture video & 360 footage for future promotional videos.
- Prepare the station for beginning of field season.
- Installation of new Donor & Memorial plaques. (James)
- Start up some plants in the GreenHab.
- Setup of new HAL workstation & displays. (James)
- Updates to Internet Router firmware & configuration. (James)
- Other logistical tasks.
Crew will be IN SIM starting the afternoon of Sol 1 (October 22).
MDRS ASTRONOMY REFIT – SOL 2
At 3:14 this morning I woke up to some brilliant moonlight dancing across the Martian terrain through some passing clouds. It was around this time that Shannon emailed back about the generator, but without Internet I wouldn’t be able to get her message until morning when power would be restored by the solar system. I was up at sunrise and did some tai chi in the desert to start the day. After organizing my stateroom and the hab, the power came on at 7:45 AM.
I received Shannon’s email regarding the power issues. I checked the oil again now that the engine was cool, and it was fine. The coolant level was also fine (needed only about a half cup). I started the generator and let it run for about 15 minutes with no problem. By this time the solar panels were up to 89%. See the section under “Problems” for specific details. We thought the problem was solved and we were well on our way. However, the solar system shut down again with a low battery warning while we were in town. Switched to generator, the crew has showered, and we’ll see how we do with the generator tonight.
So other than working with power issues we were successful in getting the rebar pointed by Dave from Rabbitbush. The rebar stakes will secure the weather station tripod. However, we were not successful in getting them in the ground; too much rock. We decided the best method would be to concrete the pole in the ground. We talked with Dave who is arriving tomorrow to pour some concrete for our weather station pole. Dave is also going to look at the generator. Gary and I dug a hole in the ground removing lots of rock to prepare for tomorrow. It will be a simple job. The Davis weather station is operational and we looked at data streaming through on the computer. Tomorrow we make it permanent.
The Bloomsky all sky camera runs off a solar panel and takes a picture of the sky every 5 minutes which it uploads to the web and can be viewed through your smartphone. Anyone who downloads the free app can see the sky condition at MDRS, get weather data and see some of the campus as well. At least that’s the theory. I could not get it to connect. I checked it at home and successfully ran it there for quite some time. I’m suspecting a power issue in the unit, but it’s not picking up the internet from either the hab or the observatory. I also can’t get it to charge, although that wasn’t a problem when I arrived. It did charge the first day. At this point it is a low priority, but I hope to have some time to work with it again before we leave.
Jacob will be putting his images of life at MDRS on Google Drive. I hope to add some astronomical shots as the skies clear. And that will happen. Clear skies are scheduled for the weekend. But for now…my resident meteorologists- yes I have two of them, are arguing about the merits of the evening for testing the observatory. There seems to be a milkshake involved in a bet, but to be honest I really don’t know how it ended up. They were talking about percentages of how much clear sky will be here at dawn. They both agreed that tonight is not going to be a good night in the early evening, at least not until midnight or later. A storm did drop some rain, and the winds have picked up considerably. As we approach 2200 hours it’s currently overcast and windy. August 4th then will be the test to put the MDRS Robotic Observatory online.
Power Issues: Generator started fine. Added only a half cup of coolant- doesn’t seem to be the problem. Oil level is fine.
For the solar system there is a fault light on the main panel. Shannon was contacted about the situation. The three inverter panels all showed an F07 fault. Jacob and I worked with Shannon throughout the midday assessing the problem and working a solution. It turns out the battery temperature was too high. After cooling down the batteries Shannon had me reset each inverter. That seemed to do the trick. We’re hoping this issue is resolved. The fault light on the main panel may be indicative of the generator not being in auto mode.
The solar system power went out again around dinnertime while we were in town with no real load on the system. The panel read LOW BATTERY. I turned on the generator, and we’ll see how well it does for the night. It will be some good data for Dave tomorrow.
Bloomsky: the unit is not connecting to the Internet. It does not work with a 5G system, but we have both here. We may have to abandon this all sky camera.
MDRS ASTRONOMY REFIT – SOL 1
The five of us arrived in Hanksville around 3:30 PM. We had an early dinner, since we didn’t want to go back to town once we reached MDRS. There is a lot of smoke in the sky, and the temperature is 100 degrees; it’s almost paradise, but I was hoping for some clear skies.
We arrived at the Mars hab and got things moved in fairly quickly. I got the swamp cooler working and we filled the tank upstairs with water. Food items were stored, and I opened the observatory dome remotely. Everything is working fine. Adam Jones had the task of setting up the Davis Weather Station while I worked with the Bloomsky all sky camera. Adam installed the weather software and got the unit to connect. However the rebar stakes to anchor the pier into the ground are flat and not edged and so we couldn’t get them deep enough. We’ll have to take them into town tomorrow to see if we can get them sharpened. So we couldn’t finish the install and brought the weather station in for the night. The other Adam and Jacob are videographers and both of them were taking all sorts of shots. I will say one thing. The Astronomy Refit 2018 will be very well documented.
During all this the power went out. The system is run by solar. I checked the status and it showed that the batteries were at 77%. The system is supposed to shut off around there, but it was only on for 2 hours.
I turned on the generator and we were back in business. We’ll, at least for about two hours until the generator shut off! The large fuel drum showed slightly less than half a tank, no issue there. Checked the oil and it was fine. There was a little steam and the radiator was hot. Out of coolant? Too hot to open. Sent an email out to MDRS apprising them of the situation, however with the internet down I doubt I’ll get a response until tomorrow.
So I gathered the Crew and explained the situation. It’s getting dark, there are clouds and the winds are picking up. There are snacks but no dinner. No showers tonight either, and we’re going to sleep outside; too hot inside. Gary and Jacob are on cots. The two Adams are on the ground. And for myself… I’m in a hammock.
I lay here looking skyward seeing huge dark voids with a splattering of stars in odd arrangements. Gary says he felt a drop of rain. I’m not worried. Mars is shining brightly through the haze, and that’s a good omen. We had our snafu for this mission. Tomorrow is going to be an amazing day.
Generator issue. Solar system should restore some power tomorrow. We need the generator working.
The MarsVR team has completed their scans of the MDRS facilities and terrain. Several Matterport 360 walkthoughs are already available, and the team will be working this summer to create the full photo-realistic VR environment for MDRS crew training, that will be put into use for next field season.