Status Report

Haughton-Mars Project (HMP-2001-0712)

By SpaceRef Editor
July 12, 2001
Filed under , ,

Report Number: HMP-2001-0712

By: Dr. Pascal Lee

The event of the day was the US Marine Corps paradrop
operation. Three paradrops took place this afternoon
over Von Braun Planitia, a rolling plain located just
outside Haughton, northwest of the crater. In spite of
adverse weather and reduced visibility (it was windy,
foggy, drizzly, and the ceiling was marginal at no more
than 700 ft), the paradrops were a complete success. The
view from Base Camp was simply spectacular.

From our perspective on Devon Island, the operation began
this afternoon with the arrival at Haughton on a First Air
Twin Otter of a group of five Marines led by LtCol Tom Duncavage.
Accompanying him were Capt. Patrick O’Rourke, Sgt. Weber, Staff
Sgt. Ali, and Corporal Jones. Mr. Bob Evans, photographer for
this USMC operation, also landed on Devon.

This is the third year in a row that the NASA Haughton-Mars
Project is receiving support from the USMC for the delivery in the
High Arctic of expeditionary equipment and supplies otherwise too
difficult or too costly to deliver to Devon Island by other means.
LtCol. Duncavage has been the key USMC officer through whom we have
been able to secure the support of the Marines on the NASA HMP
over the past three years. He was visiting Devon Island for the
third time. Capt. O’Rourke was also returning to Haughton. This
was his second visit.

Once on the ground, the landed team moved into position quickly. They
marked the DZ (drop zone) and waited for the Herc. The mighty C-130
commanded by LtCol Ken Hopper arrived shortly thereafter, passing first
a couple of times over the DZ with its rear door closed to assess local
terrain and weather conditions and to coordinate the drop with the ground

Then came time for the first drop. In awe and silence, we watched the
massive plane approach stealthily from a distance over Haynes Ridge. The
ceiling was so low that the plane was coming in and out of clouds. It
then roared past overhead, this time with its rear door dropped open.
The first load then exited the plane. Initially it appeared to be in free
fall but it was soon slowed down by a beautiful parachute in full blossom.

The second and third drops, the latter one being the final one, were equally
successful, in spite of rapidly deteriorating weather conditions. Winds
were progressively picking up and the drizzle was now turning to rain. The
third drop was a climactic moment as a new ATV sponsored to the SETI
Institute by Kawasaki Motors USA for our work on the NASA HMP was being
delivered in this way for the first time. Also mounted on the same load was
a small camera belonging to HMP Videographer Sam Burbank. We felt we were
somewhat brave and daring. But the truth is I was confident the Marines
would pull off yet another successful drop. The third drop was indeed
perfect. After a soft bounce, the load came to a complete stop. The
Kawasaki ATV was safe and sound. It started up right away and was driven off its
landing platform.

Yesterday evening, in preparation for today’s paradrops, we were privileged
to host at Haughton the reconnaissance visit of Col. Colin Lampard and his
team, including LtCol Tom Duncavage and LtCol Ken Hopper. Col. Lampard is
the commanding officer who has been authorizing the USMC’s support to the
NASA HMP over the past field seasons. He was visiting Haughton and our team
for the first time. We discussed the symbiotic value of our joint operations
and our mutual commitment to the advancement of exploration. It was a great
moment for the HMP.

As Col. Lampard departed Haughton, he presented our project with the
beautiful red flag of the United States Marine Corps. The flag flew high
all day today over the HMP Base Camp in celebration of our collaboration.

SpaceRef staff editor.