Status Report

31 July 2000: Marc Boucher’s Personal Journal: Base Camp, Devon Island

By SpaceRef Editor
July 31, 2000
Filed under , ,

Marc Boucher

Note: Information on the current field season, as well as past seasons can be found here.

Simulation, Day 3


Carol Stoker, Commander
Bill Clancey, Chronicler
Larry Lemke, Engineer
Darlene Lim, Biologist
Bob Nesson, Discovery Channel
Marc Boucher, Communications Officer

Mars Suit Training

With a sense of determination to try and get something done in our first full day of simulation as the “long term” crew this year
we set about planning the day’s activities. The morning plan was to test the Mars prototype suit. This would be done
by Carol, Larry and Darlene as they could fit in the suit. This was delayed until around noon as the suit was being used
by a Haughton-Mars Project member. In the meantime the crew continued to fix up the habitat and discuss how the
interior could be built out for future simulations.

Proximity EVA

After the suit test a proximity EVA of our location was planned. This would be done on foot with a 400 meter perimeter. Carol,
Larry, Darlene and Bob went out on the EVA while Bill and Marc stayed in the habitat. A communications protocol of checking in
every 10 minutes was established. The EVA lasted about two hours. GPS data was collected at several features of interest. We used
a GPS as the crew feels that a Mars Network of satellites could be in place before the first real Mars mission.

Dinner, Mission Support and Mars

After the EVA the crew decided to start to prepare dinner. After dinner we prepared our reports for Mission Support
in “Denver”. We had a few communications problems. This included the inability of the crew to send larger zipped
files. After some effort we managed to communicate with Mission Support. After communicating with Mission Support
we talked about Mars missions and how our short experience here in the habitat might be relevant. After that
it was time for our sleep period.

The FMARS Chronicle – By Bill Clancey, Mars Society

7/31 Monday

0830  My thermometer reads 53F outside, 60F in my room; I’m the first to rise this morning.

0900  We’re all preparing breakfast-oatmeal and tacos with jelly.

0920  We sit together at the table; a sign that our crew will work well together.

0925  Larry, Bob, and I sit with coffee in hand, while the others clean utensils and prepare more food.

Marc mentions reading about the 2003 Mars mission on his PC; we discuss the politics and capabilities of universities working with NASA. Once again the topic is the problem of large-scale engineering, such as Boston’s “big dig.” Can people with vision manage organization complexity? How does strategy and tactics come together on multi-billion dollar projects?

0950  Shifting back to our present concerns, we discuss our plans for today. Darlene and Carol will try out the space suit. Using email, we arrange for additional supplies from base camp.

0955  We discuss the interior plan again. What can be learned from the tradeoffs managed this year between allowing habitation, building the interior, and creating a final design? (We are seated the same as last night, with Larry and I having swapped places.) We outline some constraints for the interior design based on our short experience already: components should be reconfigurable by the crew, a crane on the roof to lift up large items is useful; more consideration for safety is required (fire exit, smoke alarms, rope ladder).

1000  The hab construction crew arrives and begins work on roof and downstairs.

1020  The meeting breaks up; we handle personal hygiene and dishes

Marc is sending a request to base camp and working on his Mars Society journal.

Darlene is washing.

Larry is brushing his teeth.

I am moving my chair and powerbook to the SE window to be in the sun.

1050  Lots of hammering, moving stuff around. Noise makes work impossible.

1114  It’s way to noisy to write. Larry is coming up the ladder. Carol is talking to Marc about her planned traverse. Darlene and Bob are hungry again. They talk about food and exercise. There’s a Resolute kid on the roof working. John Kunz is drilling somewhere. Then Carol asks if the space food waffles are any good. I aver that they hold butter and syrup well, so they are good. Unfortunately we have few condiments.

Having a quiet place to work is important. People need to treat certain areas as being like a library, as Marc and I would now like to view the upstairs floor. Can’t everyone see that Marc and I are trying to write? Of course, the fact is that the hab is still a construction site.

1146  Andy Liebman of Discovery sticks his head in the hatch to talk to Bob. They go downstairs to not violate protocol. Eventually, eight people who are not part of the crew will come upstairs during the day. We determine that after the crew arrives on Mars, visitors should not be allowed in the first week.

1200  Microsoft Word crashes and I lose ten minutes of painstaking work.

1220  I finish the first draft of my notes about the hab construction drama. Everyone in the crew is now inside and seated around the table.

I film Carol, Darlene, and Larry planning a traverse, as they relate aerial photos to maps. Bob films us all for Discovery.

1300  We discuss politics and technology over lunch.

1340  John Kunz comes upstairs again to check the crack in one portal.

1410  I observe that Larry, Darlene, Carol, and Bob have been nest building most of the day-steps in the room to reach an upper bunk, shelves, exercise equipment, railings, etc. Perhaps Marc and I aren’t so engaged because we did this yesterday?

1420  Marc observes that one net story on FMARS is especially unfair. I suggest not complaining, but presenting our own emotionally biased sound bites. We shouldn’t fight the genre, but relate our point of view in the same tone: “Phoenix! FMARS rises from the ashes! Courage in the Arctic-Fearless crew saves the day!”

1530  Darlene, Carol, Bob, and Larry out head on an EVA. We are in voice contact over two-way radios.

1540  Marc and I remove Bob’s rail, having found that one 2×4 is unstable and prevents holding onto the top of the ladder. We realize the humor in doing this as soon as he leaves; having said nothing during his improvised construction. Bob comes back in moments later and acknowledges the problem.

1550  A subgroup finally departs on an EVA, which they call EVA1. They have taped Darlene’s gloves to her coat so she won’t remove them again.

1618  EVA1 radios that they are 600m out. They have assessed the snow field in the south and moved towards the Lowell Canal.

1625  EVA1 radios that they are anticipating signal loss as they leave the line of sight of the hab.

I can hear someone tightening bolts on the roof; the fiberglass crackles.

1645  Pete and Dave come upstairs. Pete’s looking for his green long johns. He asks us to sign his flag. Dave sees the crater map and takes it to photograph.

1654  Dave returns speaking loudly to Pete, unaware that we haven’t had 5 minutes peace all day.

1655  EVA1 is at the third way point in the Lowell Canal.

1722  Very loud tools are being thrown around downstairs; tools are wenting against the roof.

1800  I finish transcribing notes after struggling to concentrate since 130pm.

One obvious use of the hab is for training astronauts. Certainly a crew should live together in a habitat like this before they travel to Mars.

1806  Darlene is hammering in her room.

I notice that my camera equipment and computer case are in public space; Carol has left her backpack on the floor. The others appear to keep everything in their room. My coffee cup is still on the table from this.

1820  I begin a time lapse video, capturing 320×240 pixels every 3 seconds direct to disk using Adobe Premiere. I experimented with video extensively during HMP-99 and found surprising patterns in people’s movement and use of space. What patterns will we observe here in the use of the table, galley area, and private quarters? How will people move chairs around? Where will conversations occur? Where will people prefer to read?

1830  Darlene’s headphones are a bit loud; I think Carol notices, too; but nobody complains. We’ve each played music for each other at various times (from our laptop computers). Perhaps FMARS should have a central stereo system with speakers throughout?

1834  Larry is shaving downstairs in the room with the sink. Marc and Carol are at the table. Darlene is in the easy chair in front of her door. Bob was by his door, but is now apparently in his bed. I’m in my easy chair by the camera in front of the SE window.

I begin an initial list of activities involving the central table: eating, review video and digital photos, plan traverses, talk while working, type memos, design web pages, read email, look at maps.

1840  Larry is hammering in his room.

1845  Carol asks about ordering aerial photos and Darlene shouts an answer from her room.

The mobility of laptops has infringed upon our living rooms back on Earth. With wireless links we can now fax and print from an easy chair. How will we handle this problem in the hab? “Work” space for “knowledge workers” used to be locate in an office building. Is it reasonable to define the hab downstairs as “work” and upstairs as “living” when we can’t find such boundaries in our home lives? Perhaps “dirty” and “clean” are more useful distinctions.

1850  I heat my wash rag and freshen up in my room with the door closed.

1855  Carol and Marc are reviewing the Denver team’s checklist of requirements for the “mission support” exercise.

1915  The crew is preparing dinner. Bob emails webcam information to Andy. Carol is writing her commander report for Denver. The temperatures are now 52.7F (11.5C) outside and 70.3F (21.3C) inside.

2000  Base camp has sent arctic char, garlic mashed potatoes, and mixed vegetables, cheerfully delivered by Sékou Crawford. Despite having eaten already (except Carol, who now recharacterizes her work period as “wise waiting”), we dig in and sample the food-a very nice combination. The fresh poached char is wonderful. Mark Webb, the chef of base camp, has perhaps been the most important person during the expedition.

2030  Darlene writes her report. I send my transcribed notes to Marc.

I’ve been eating like a vacuum all day-berry peanut butter on saltine crackers (after lunch), tapioca pudding, an MRE brownie, a bag of nuts and raisins, my daily Mars bar, and so on.

2100  Carol finds the file she sent to Marc didn’t arrive. Marc doesn’t have a compatible disk drive and Carol lacks a cable to connect her powerbook to the ethernet hub. Over the next day, Carol will several times hand me a cartridge, which I will use to mail her files wirelessly across the room to the Airport base station on the table inches from Marc, out to our station on the nearby ridge, to a satellite, perhaps to Ottawa, and back through the dish and hub to Marc’s PC. Our hardware is not compatible, but through wireless networking, we all connect.

2200  Carol, Mark, and Darlene sit around the table through the next hour. I read email from my easy chair (gloating that I brought the wireless connection). We mention our EVA plans for the next day.

Our circular room has three distinct spaces-our private quarters (half the floor), the table at the SW portal, the galley table, and the large open space between the table and private quarters. This space is peripheral to the activities around the table. Here people retreat to read and work alone. Yet they of course hear everything and may chime in (just as Carol spoke up from her bunk). Here we find a combination of essential elements in well-known successful designs of living space-central and peripheral spaces, movable chairs (several people have used a second chair as a foot rest when sitting against the wall), doors that may close for privacy (or be left open to extend the peripheral space), and a relatively large open area that is adaptable to different purposes (preparing food, conversation, packing, making things). There’s also plenty of space for our personal daypacks to be strewn about-which we find convenient for carrying books, cameras, notebooks, and pens.

2230  Carol is caulking gaps in the plywood floor downstairs. (Humored by this, I grab my video camera for an impromptu interview. She explains that she promised to do this task; but I ask, at 1130pm? Bob makes a wry remark about Carol’s obvious dedication.)

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