Posted: Sunday, September 24, 2006
Image: NEEMO 11 crew member participates in a session of extravehicular activity (EVA) for the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) project. Image credit: NASA
It was another busy day under the ocean! We got up at 6 am and started getting ready for work. The mornings can be kind of hectic since we have to have breakfast, get cleaned up, read all of the overnight mail from our mission support team and then get the plan for the day organized. We have to choreograph activities so that we can stay out of each other's way. We are quite used to this morning routine by now.
The official start of the working day is at our Daily Planning Conference with both the local mission control team and the remote team in Houston. This is where we coordinate all of the day's events. Today our activities included completing the LunaSea construction, doing some center of gravity studies, and some education outreach events. The first dive, which was the LunaSea project, came pretty fast after the conference so TJ and Bob got to work getting the dive helmets ready to go. Every morning we have to connect the helmets to the umbilical and make sure that we have good communication, breathing air and camera views. It is a busy time with a lot of activity on the wet porch.
Bob and Tim were the first to go in today, and they finished the LunaSea construction. We were really excited to see the tower go up and take a picture with our "flag" on the mast of the constructed tower. The guys headed out to the site, pulling a sled which contained cameras and the rest of the construction equipment. They very cleverly mounted the video camera on the sled so we could get some good video documentation of the final phases of the construction. Unfortunately the visibility was not as good today as it had been earlier in the mission, but they were still able to obtain some good shots. Before erecting the tower they had to connect the three modules together and then attach the ladder and the side braces. Finally it was time to raise the tower and it turned out that it was easier in the water than it had been on dry land. The team of two could do it easily. After it was up we all took a moment to admire it, but then we had to bring it down, disconnect the modules, the ladders, the braces, and move the tower closer to Aquarius. We experimented with two ways of moving the modules, pushing/pulling it through the sand, and attaching wheels and trying to use them to move the modules. The guys determined that pushing was easier when using the wheels and pulling was easier without the wheels.
The dive was very successful and we were happy with how much we were able to do and the topside team got a lot of good information about construction in extreme environments. When the guys returned to the wetporch we only had a short amount of time to get them out of their helmets and wet suits, have everyone grab a quick lunch and get Sandy and TJ suited up for their run.
The second dive of the day was another part of the center of gravity study that Tim and Bob had participated in earlier in the mission. The idea behind the study is to have a series of weights distributed with different patterns on a specially designed rig we wear on our back. We then, for each configuration, do a series of tasks, such as running, shoveling, kneeling, rock collecting, to determine which weight distribution is the more comfortable to work with. What was interesting to notice was how much change there was between the configurations and how it affected how easily the tasks can be done. The information that we collected, along with the information from other NEEMO missions will help determine the best design for a planet based space suit. Since we finished the dive earlier than expected we continued with dismantling of the Lunasea tower to make it easier to transport to the surface.
After returning to the habitat we had a telecon with mission control centers to discuss the lunar science scenario that we would be doing the tomorrow. Later in the evening we were able to take a crew photo and then spent our time sorting photos, getting cameras ready, and electronically recording the data that we had taken during the day.Our days on Aquarius are very busy but we have been enjoying ourselves and learning a lot. It is hard to believe that our mission is half way over. Whenever we have a spare moment we spend some time looking out the porthole and watching the abundant life swim by. Our neighbors, the goliath grouper swim by every evening to peek in at us and several nights in a row a large sea turtle has come to the habitat to sleep. Just like in space you never get tired of looking out the window!
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