Status Report

Haughton Mars Project Report Number: HMP-2001-0729, SETI Institute/NASA HMP

By SpaceRef Editor
July 29, 2001
Filed under , ,

By: Dr. Pascal Lee

We had a packed great day!

The day started with a small planning meeting and a big Sunday brunch.
Larry revealed to us his excellent culinary skills and is now our de
facto chef. Two webcams were also installed inside the
FMARS Hab this morning (with help from “Portable Trish”, Steve’s sidekick
who came up from the HMP Base Camp ; her name comes from her handheld
transceiver call sign). From now one, the activity taking place inside
the Hab can be viewed by all, including our families and friends.

Carol Stoker, Peter Smith and Larry Lemke teleoperate the Titan
rover from the EVA Prep room inside the FMARS Hab while Bob Nesson (with
video camera) and Drew Levinson (sound engineer) of the Discovery Channel
crew capture the moment.

(Photo by Pascal Lee 010729-10)

The plan for the day was to carry out a crew-teleoperated robotic
reconnaissance of a site, select samples of interest (but without
actually collecting them), then to go out to the site on EVA to do a
human survey and to actually pick up the preselected samples.

For the teleoperated recon we used John Blitch’s “Mite” rover, a robot
the size of a skateboard equipped with no less than 6 cameras. Because
we were limited to conducting exploration in a tethered mode, little
“Titan” stayed near the Hab at all times, with Carol, Larry and Peter
teleoperating it from inside the Hab. Titan proved to be extremely adept
at going over even very rough rocky terrain. Its video cameras provided
spectacular views of the landscape at rock height. Doing geologic
exploration at ground level is an interesting experience. As Carol put it,
it’s like having cameras on your shoes. The teleoperators soon identified
a series of samples they would want to collect later on EVA and created a
map of the rock field.

The teleoperation interface for the Titan rover.

(Photo by Pascal Lee 010729-14)

Before the EVA, we had dinner. As we had done on Phase 1, the Phase 4 crew
has for dinner food prepared the same day at the HMP Base Camp. The food is
delivered to the Hab at the end of each day in the form of individual
portions packaged in ziploc bags. This is essentially equivalent to us
eating a possible form of space food on the journey to Mars which would
require only unpackaging and reheating (and in this case no rehydration)
before consumption. Last summer, HMP participants participated in a food
science study led by Vicki Kloeris of NASA Johnson Space Center in which
they consumed similar space station-intended thermostabilized food, i.e.,
canned food packaged in aluminized softwalled packs. All we needed to do
was to reheat the packs, tear them open, and eat. Time is still required
to prepare dinner and eat it together, so the valuable communal and social
moment of dinner is preserved. Breakfast and lunch are put together by the
Hab crew directly.

The “Titan” tethered rover with its forward-pointing camera.

(Photo by Pascal Lee 010729-17)

After dinner Carol (Backpack 4) and Peter (Backpack 6) suited up
“prebreathed” for 30 minutes, then egressed at 9:30 pm. I served as the
IVA point of contact onboard the FMARS during the simulated EVA. After
helping check the level of our generators, they hopped onto ATVs and
drove off to approach the sampling site from the crater side. Once
at the site, the EVA crew had no problem recognizing the rocks they had
seen via the eyes of Titan and proceeded to collect them.

Carol Stoker and Peter Smith saddle up for an ATV traverse.

(Photo by Larry Lemke, processed by Pascal Lee 010729-25)

But the rocks turned out to be much larger than apparent from the
robotic imaging. The bulk of their mass was actually buried. In order to
collect samples, Carol and Peter needed additional tools. The Talon rover
was called in. In this situation it was dispatched from the Hab, but on Mars,
the EVA crew might have called their own ATVs. Talon succesfully delivered
a crowbar and the EVA crew was able to collect the desired samples.

Peter Smith (backpack 6) and Carol Stoker (backpack 4) ride off
into the evening sun on Haynes Ridge.

(Photo by Larry Lemke, processed by Pascal Lee 010729-29)

The EVA was a thrilling moment for all. The evening sun was casting a golden
glow on the barren landscape. Carol who all her life has dreamt of going to
Mars was now in a suit traversing Haughton’s Mars-like terrains. Peter
Smith was also zipping along on his ATV, absorbing every pixel of the scenery.
After 1 hour and 20 minutes, they reentered the Hab’s main airlock carrying
a bag full of samples.

We were all smiles.

SpaceRef staff editor.