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Tamarack R. Czarnik, MD, Personal Journal - The Mars Society Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station - 12 Aug 2001

Status Report From: Mars Society
Posted: Sunday, August 12, 2001

Hello, Ohio Mars Society!

VERY exciting day today, for a LOT of reasons!

First off, I had to 'break sim' (allow activities not consistent with a Mars station simulation) twice to treat medical conditions at HMP. Without getting too specific, both were situations I'd expect to treat in ERs; not complicated, but *totally* different when treated in the field!

Second, a visit from the Hamlet of Grise Fiord, Nunavut required our attention (and most of the Hab space) for several hours. While these visits require 'breaking sim', they are VITALLY important for maintaining a working environment here. This one seemed quite successful, thus strengthening our continued presence here.

But astronauts and Mars Society members are no strangers to long working days; we prepared for our first EVA at 8:30 p.m. The analog suits the Mars Society has put together work great: cumbersome enough to impede movement, but with plenty of fresh air and water, and flexible enough to ride ATVs in! Suiting up took 35 minutes, and pre-breathe (to simulate expelling excess Nitrogen to avoid Decompression Sickness) another 30 minutes. Then we were out the airlock.

Stepping out an airlock, even a simulated one, in a space suit, even an analog, is an edifying experience. Your breath is loud in your ears, your native environment ends inches above your head, and there is a tremendous sense of BEING THERE, senses on heightened alert, *absorbing* every sensation as if it were brand new. Scuba divers will understand the feeling; you've stepped into a new world, and your body is racing to understand it. And somehow, the Mars Society flag looks totally different when viewed through a faceplate at the top of the world; its three broad bands of color speak eloquently of home and safety, saying (in a language understood even in this new Reality): "This is YOUR Place!"

Our EVA mapped out a location for George James' weather station, and acted as a "shakedown" mission before a longer planned EVA. After identifying the optimal spot, we stood on the edge of Haughton Crater admiring the view (and posing for a photo-op), then mounted ATVs for a brief ride to learn how to negotiate rocky terrain on a bouncing vehicle in bulky spacesuits.

By the time we returned it was 11 p.m., and (after repressurizing and desuiting) time to write my Medical Report, Science & Research Report, and Operational Report. Movies on DVD are very popular here (as they were on Mir): last night's feature was 'GalaxyQuest', and tonight's is 'Capricorn One', both tales of space sims gone wrong. Here's hoping ours fares better!

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