Keith Cowing's Devon Island Journal - 19 July 2002: The hottest place on Devon Island, T-shirts, and a Star Trek hello


Further Information
  • NASA Haughton-Mars Project
  • SpaceRef
  • SpaceRef Mars on Earth coverage
  • Arthur Clarke Mars Greenhouse
  • MarsToday.com
  • Astrobiology.com
  • Click on Image for larger view. Images Copyright
    NASA HMP-2002/SpaceRef



    Keith holding an official "Enterprise" logo

    Keith wearing an ASGSB t-shirt, in shorts, on the front porch of the greenhouse

    Inside the greenhouse looking aft

    Inside the greenhouse looking forward

    Looking out the greenhouse front door at "The Fortress"

    Modification of the view by Star Trek's Mike Okuda

    Our greenhouse, glowing like a jewel in the midnight sun
    With the greenhouse now completely covered with Lexan, we have been seeing some amazing heat levels inside. The highest that I am aware of was 42.5 C (107.6 F). Although we are still awaiting the full installation of a more sophisticated set of instruments, it is already clear that this structure grabs onto heat and hold onto it tenaciously. Even a cloudy day can see temperatures rise fast.

    Curiously, the interior of this greenhouse is the hottest place on Devon Island.

    We still have a lot of work to do inside. The primary task today was caulking up all of the seams to so as to make the structure as tight as possible. After a few minutes of working in 40C+ temperatures I was dripping in sweat.

    I went back to my tent and got the shorts I had worn on the plane up to Ottawa and a t-shirt. This made conditions more tolerable. Still, it was so hot and humid that I had to go outside to cool off. It was nice outdoors (around 10C) so, for the next hour or two, much to the delight of my teammates, I was walking around in shorts and a t-shirt. Given the horrible weather we'd had just a day or so earlier, this was all rather incongruous.

    I used the opportunity to balance an equation of sorts: I posed for a photo wearing a t-shirt with the logo of ASGSB - the American Society for Gravitational and Space Biology. I designed the logo 15 years ago with the intent that it be recognizable in photos taken in remote locations.

    Quicktime panorama: Center of Base Camp 19 July 2002. 360 degree pan. R-L: Office Tent, Mess Tent, webcam, Comm Tent, Argo ATV, Tool Tent, The Fortress, Airstrip, Greenhouse, Tent City [Download]

    [Get Quicktime]

    One friend of mine wore a shirt at the geographic South Pole. Another posed for a photo in an Antarctic dry valley. Others wore one aboard several different Space Shuttle missions. Given that I had twisted other people's arms to wear one of these shirts in extreme environments, it was the least I could do to reciprocate.

    The performance of the greenhouse was remarkable. Over the course of the next several days, I would walk around Base Camp and utter sentences to people I would see that contained only numbers. "38"; "40"; "42". Everyone knew I was referring to the temperatures inside the greenhouse. When I would utter double-digit numbers on cold, overcast days, people would smile. The greenhouse was really working.

    Quicktime panorama: Tent City 29 July 2002. 270 degree pan. R-L: Tent Ciy, Latrine Tents, Mess, Office, and Comm tents, The Fortress, Greenhouse, Landing Strip, von Braun Planitia [Download]

    [Get Quicktime]

    Later in the day I finished up an article "From Apollo 11 to "Mars on Earth" for posting on Star Trek's official website . The gist of the article was to characterize what it was we were doing on Devon Island - and how we all hoped that this would further the preparatory work needed to get humans to Mars.

    With me I had brought a sticker of the logo seen on the uniforms of the current crew of the latest Star Trek series "Enterprise". My business partner Marc Boucher and I chose to dedicate this greenhouse to noted author Sir Arthur C. Clarke as a tribute to the writings that have served to inspire both of us over the years. In that same vein, I sought to establish a link between HMP activities on Devon Island with the current TV series, which, I feel; both embody the spirit of the human exploration of space.

    As such I wrote:

    "The current series Enterprise takes us all back (or forward if you prefer) to a time when humans just begin to understand the technologies needed to explore beyond our solar system. We are in a similar situation now with respect to understanding what it will take to move outward to other planets. As such, an Enterprise mission sticker will be placed within our greenhouse to serve as a source of inspiration - and camaraderie - with the crew of the good ship Enterprise NX-01."

    I placed the sticker inside the greenhouse on the door jam. I sent a photo to Mike Okuda, the scenic art supervisor and technical consultant for "Enterprise" (and previous Star Trek series) at Paramount Pictures. Not much to my surprise, I got a modified version of this image back by email the next day. Mike had altered my original photo so as to depict the view out the front door - were this greenhouse to be situated on Mars, that is.


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