Journalist Report – April 16th

Crew 297 Journalist – David Laude

Our third EVA, taken this Sol 2 afternoon by three of the crew, was our first research project EVA. The purpose of the EVA was to perform the first EVA for the nuclear power project (no nuclear materials present). Nuclear electric power is vital for a human presence on Mars where there is little wind and solar energy to harvest. Mission support provided a simulated landing site for the mock garbage can sized nuclear power system. Matthew L., the EVA Crew Commander, Matt S. and Sean were given an approximate landing site via GPS coordinates, which was within 1000 feet from the actual location. However, due to a GPS unit malfunction, for a currently unknown (to our crew) reason, a few hours were spent in the wrong area. After the error was detected, and correct GPS coordinates were realized, the EVA crew quickly found it.

After being found, it was collected and a new simulated landing site was secretly selected and recorded for the next EVA crew to recover. Tomorrow, crew members Pawel, Dave and Sarah will have their chance to find the mock reactor.

EVA Crew Commander Matt is a 4th year PhD candidate at the University of Michigan, where he studies nuclear engineering. His academic research focuses on developing novel materials for advanced nuclear reactors and extreme conditions, as well as utilizing new methods to use machine learning in assisting electron microscopy material analysis. His PhD is supported by a NASA Space Technology Graduate Research Opportunity (NSTGRO), this is his first experience as an analog astronaut.

At the Hab Dave conducted the first test on his ultrasonic range finder device. It is to be used to measure distance from the top of a fluid tank to the liquid surface with the purpose of determining the amount of fluid left within the tank. It was used on the static tank and GreenHab tank where it successfully determined the distance. However, the tanks are nearly full and thus the test was very limited. Continued testing as water is being depleted will be required to calibrate and completely test it.

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