From: Haughton-Mars Project (HMP)
Posted: Sunday, July 29, 2001
By: Dr. Pascal Lee
We had a packed great day!
The day started with a small planning meeting and a big Sunday brunch. Larry revealed to us his excellent culinary skills and is now our de facto chef. Two SpaceRef.com webcams were also installed inside the FMARS Hab this morning (with help from "Portable Trish", Steve's sidekick who came up from the HMP Base Camp ; her name comes from her handheld transceiver call sign). From now one, the activity taking place inside the Hab can be viewed by all, including our families and friends.
The plan for the day was to carry out a crew-teleoperated robotic reconnaissance of a site, select samples of interest (but without actually collecting them), then to go out to the site on EVA to do a human survey and to actually pick up the preselected samples.
For the teleoperated recon we used John Blitch's "Mite" rover, a robot the size of a skateboard equipped with no less than 6 cameras. Because we were limited to conducting exploration in a tethered mode, little "Titan" stayed near the Hab at all times, with Carol, Larry and Peter teleoperating it from inside the Hab. Titan proved to be extremely adept at going over even very rough rocky terrain. Its video cameras provided spectacular views of the landscape at rock height. Doing geologic exploration at ground level is an interesting experience. As Carol put it, it's like having cameras on your shoes. The teleoperators soon identified a series of samples they would want to collect later on EVA and created a map of the rock field.
Before the EVA, we had dinner. As we had done on Phase 1, the Phase 4 crew has for dinner food prepared the same day at the HMP Base Camp. The food is delivered to the Hab at the end of each day in the form of individual portions packaged in ziploc bags. This is essentially equivalent to us eating a possible form of space food on the journey to Mars which would require only unpackaging and reheating (and in this case no rehydration) before consumption. Last summer, HMP participants participated in a food science study led by Vicki Kloeris of NASA Johnson Space Center in which they consumed similar space station-intended thermostabilized food, i.e., canned food packaged in aluminized softwalled packs. All we needed to do was to reheat the packs, tear them open, and eat. Time is still required to prepare dinner and eat it together, so the valuable communal and social moment of dinner is preserved. Breakfast and lunch are put together by the Hab crew directly.
After dinner Carol (Backpack 4) and Peter (Backpack 6) suited up "prebreathed" for 30 minutes, then egressed at 9:30 pm. I served as the IVA point of contact onboard the FMARS during the simulated EVA. After helping check the level of our generators, they hopped onto ATVs and drove off to approach the sampling site from the crater side. Once at the site, the EVA crew had no problem recognizing the rocks they had seen via the eyes of Titan and proceeded to collect them.
But the rocks turned out to be much larger than apparent from the robotic imaging. The bulk of their mass was actually buried. In order to collect samples, Carol and Peter needed additional tools. The Talon rover was called in. In this situation it was dispatched from the Hab, but on Mars, the EVA crew might have called their own ATVs. Talon succesfully delivered a crowbar and the EVA crew was able to collect the desired samples.
The EVA was a thrilling moment for all. The evening sun was casting a golden glow on the barren landscape. Carol who all her life has dreamt of going to Mars was now in a suit traversing Haughton's Mars-like terrains. Peter Smith was also zipping along on his ATV, absorbing every pixel of the scenery. After 1 hour and 20 minutes, they reentered the Hab's main airlock carrying a bag full of samples.
We were all smiles.
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