Status Report

Haughton Mars Project Report Number: HMP-2001-0731

By SpaceRef Editor
July 31, 2001
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By: Dr. Pascal Lee

The day was devoted to executing a simulated EVA with a science
agenda proposed by the Science Operations team at NASA Ames Research
Center and with overall mission support from the Mission Support team
in Denver. We went to “Site 6, an area presenting a beautiful network
of small valleys visited the previous day by the Titan robot in
teleoperated mode. The main goal of the EVA was to determine the origin
of the small valleys. Were they of tectonic origin, the result of glacial
meltwater discharge, the result of massive outflows, the result of glacial
carving, or perhaps combinations of several of these or of other processes?
We’d have to find out. Secondary goals included surveys of patterned
ground (in this case large polygons several meters across) and other rock

Clockwise from bottom right: Larry Lemke, Peter Smith, Carol Stoker,
and Pascal Lee in simulated prebreathing in the main airlock of the FMARS.

(Photo by Pascal Lee 010731-12)

After an extensive planning meeting at breakfast to review the science
tasks uplinked from NASA Ames, the crew spent the rest of the morning
“station keeping”, packing (for Carol, Larry and Peter, this would be
their last day), and planning a specific traverse route to be followed
during the EVA, including alternates. We used airphotos and a stereoscope
to identify local high points along the way with the intention of making
stops at these to acquire perspective or context shots.

From left to right: Larry Lemke, Carol Stoker, Peter Smith and Pascal Lee
upon returning from their simulated EVA traverse.

(Photo by Drew Levinson 010731-35)

At 4:30 pm local time, after 30 minutes of simulated “prebreathing”,
Carol, Larry, Peter, and I egressed from the Hab’s main airlock. We
strapped our gear onto our ATVs, mounted the vehicles, and drove off
along Haynes Ridge in the direction of the southwest. John stayed
behind and served as IVA officer on board the Hab, a critical position
to hold in support of our EVA. He also continued maintenance work on
his robots while Steve made good progress on the radio system.

Many bumps and sharp rocks later, we turned towards the northwest and
cut across Lowell Canal, a relatvely large creek from which we derive
our drinking water. Then we entered a maze of small valleys. We were now
at Site 6. It was an incredible place with castle-like rock formations and
mysterious bends and turns everywhere. We documented about just everything
we could using digital cameras, video camcorders, rock samples, and even
trenching. Meanwhile we kept track of our (imaginary) oxygen supplies, with
a starting budget of 3 hours in the backpack plus 3 hours on our ATV. As
long as we were on our ATVs, we assumed we would be using our vehicle’s
oxygen supplies. As soon as we were off the ATVs, the reserves in our
backpack would be consumed.

Looking towards the northwest from Haynes Ridge we could catch a general
view of the maze of small valleys to be explored at “Site 6”. The mesa in
the distance is located 3 km away.

(Photo by Pascal Lee 010731-1366)

We saw wonderful sights and tackled a range of terrain types, including
very coarse rocky block fields (with angular boulders tens of inches
across), steep slopes, and smooth valley floors. Time went by very fast
and the EVA crew proved effective at working as a team in the collection
of a variety of data. By 7:30 pm we were back at the Hab with a comfortable
2 hours of usable oxygen to spare in our backpacks and just about nothing
left on our ATVs except for 30 minutes of contingency oxygen. (We also
assume that there is an additional 30 minutes of emergency O2 in the

The maze of small valleys explored at Site 6 (left) and the Lowell Canal
(in the distance), looking northeast.

(Photo by Pascal Lee 010731-1384)

As we sat down for dinner thick fog rolled in and now Carol, Larry and
Peter are spending an extra night at Haughton as no plane is able to fly
in at this time. In spite of weather uncertainties and the shifting
schedule, there were no complaints. Exploration requires an adventurous
spirit but also a solid dose of patience. Tomorrow this crew shift will
end but for now we are still very much a happy team.

SpaceRef staff editor.