Dr. Michaela Musilova is the director of Hawaii Area Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) program, which conducts analog missions to the moon and Mars for scientific analysis at a habitat on the volcano Mauna Loa. At the moment, she is in control of the two-week Valoria 1 mission and contributed this report back to Area.com’s Skilled Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.
Commander’s Report for the Valoria 1 Mars Mission at HI-SEAS
The ready sport. That’s an acceptable identify for what we have now been going by throughout our mission. We won’t go exterior on a Marswalk if the climate is just not favorable sufficient. Sadly for us, “mud storms” (the Martian equal of rain storms) have been raging exterior our two home windows each single day. The life help programs on the analog spacesuits would get broken in a mud storm. The crew may additionally doubtlessly get misplaced throughout a storm and harm within the difficult volcanic terrain across the HI-SEAS habitat.
Curiously, although, the mud storms do not linger in a single spot. They appear to be funneled by the valley between the 2 volcanoes in our neighborhood, Olympus Mons (Mauna Kea with the world-renowned Mauna Kea Observatories) and Mons Huygens (Mauna Loa, the place HI-SEAS is situated). Generally the mud storms come so shut that we will solely see a gray, monotonous cloud exterior our window. Different occasions, they transfer far sufficient away to present us hope that we will go on an EVA (extravehicular exercise), solely to take that hope away minutes later after they rush again to encompass the habitat.
We’ve got skilled comparable “teasing” by the climate throughout earlier missions. Menacing mud clouds would seem as quickly as we began getting ready for our EVAs. Simply once I thought that I must increase the crew’s morale and begin constructing stronger confinement-resilience in all of us, it lastly occurred — our first Marswalk! The mud clouds scattered this afternoon lengthy sufficient for Officers Kevin Pratt, Michael Barton, Hillary Coe and I to discover the terrain exterior our habitat. Officers Karin Metzgar and MaryLiz Bender remained within the habitat as “HabCOM,” which signifies that they have been the habitat communicators between the crew exterior on EVA and Mission Management on Earth.
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I gave the EVA crew geology coaching within the area, all whereas preserving an eye fixed out for the mud clouds that saved getting nearer and nearer to us. Regardless of the time stress, Kevin was in a position to arrange his antenna to obtain APT (automated image transmission) climate pictures from the Nationwide Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration polar orbiting satellites (NOAA 15, NOAA 18 and NOAA 19) exterior the habitat. He was later in a position to efficiently obtain and decode morning and afternoon satellite tv for pc passes. Kevin additionally evaluated the photographs for usefulness in native climate estimation to help EVA Go/No-Go choices.
The mud storms stayed away lengthy sufficient to permit me to finalize the geology and terrain exploration coaching that I wanted my crewmembers to expertise to ensure that them to carry out EVAs on their very own with out me. I may inform that the crew desired to spend extra time exterior, however we could not threat tempting the climate. We entered the habitat simply as the primary particles of mud began to hit our helmets’ visors. Here is hoping that tomorrow’s climate shall be favorable sufficient for Karin and MaryLiz to expertise their first EVA!
Regardless that being caught contained in the habitat could be a bit miserable at occasions, the Valoria 1 crew has been doing an awesome job at preserving themselves busy and entertained. Everybody has been working laborious on becoming their private initiatives into our full every day schedule. It may be tough to make time for oneself when there are such a lot of mission-related chores and duties that everybody has to take part in. At the least our train periods are each enjoyable and wholesome for the crew. Due to Hillary, we have now a wide range of methods to spice them up. For example, we use Supernatural VR exercises to flee our Martian surroundings and train, whereas taking part in video games. We’re additionally very grateful to Nike for offering us with a variety of sports activities garments and sneakers that we have now been utilizing every day.
One of many outreach initiatives that has been preserving us busy is Michael’s collaboration with the corporate Pyramid Video games. He has been very energetic in creating academic movies displaying the realism of each the HI-SEAS mission and Pyramid Video games’ upcoming “Occupy Mars” house exploration sport. The sport is impressed by essentially the most promising applied sciences and corporations that work towards the purpose of serving to humanity turn out to be a multi-planetary species. Video clips recorded on the HI-SEAS habitat will illustrate what it is wish to reside and work on Mars, and what applied sciences are essential to a profitable mission. The true-life footage shall be juxtaposed with components of Occupy Mars, demonstrating how shut the participant’s expertise is to the “actual factor” seen at HI-SEAS.
Our Martian habitat has additionally been overflowing with artwork and inventive power. We’ve got moved our furnishings round a variety of occasions for Karin’s 3D mapping of the habitat and Hillary’s images initiatives. Even mugs and crops did not escape this wave of redecorating. MaryLiz has been thriving on this surroundings, immersing herself in music creation together with her MI.MU music gloves. A part of her purpose right here is to create a collaborative Mars-to-Earth album with Earth-based musician Kelly Snook. She additionally got here to HI-SEAS to conduct analysis on how we’ll take our humanity with us on our journey to house — utilizing artwork to hook up with ourselves, one another, and other people again on Earth.
Commander Musilova signing off to our first film night time on the mission for some extra comedian reduction and as a distraction from the mud storms. I’ve a foul feeling that the chosen film shall be “Spaceballs.”
Observe Michaela Musilova on Twitter @astro_Michaela. Observe us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Fb.