Status Report

Katy Quinn’s Devon Island Journal: July 15, 2001

By SpaceRef Editor
July 15, 2001
Filed under , ,

Note: Text and photos republished from Katy Quinn’s FMARS page by permission of the author.

Sunday, nearly Monday, July 15.  Busy days.

Well… it’s been a while. I’m afraid I’ve fallen behind on my journal
entries, things have been so busy around here and the days long and tiring. 
I also understand that my images aren’t loading up on some of the journal
pages, I’ve tried to fix it but I can’t seem to figure out what’s going
wrong.  So sorry folks, I’ll try work some more on it when I have
time.  Let’s see if I can summarise the last few days.  Thursday
we had a long EVA outside the habitat to deploy Vladimir Pletser’s seismic
survey equipment on Haynes Ridge.  The work detail was myself, Vladimir
Pletser, and Robert Zubrin.  We had deployed in this area before without
the analog space suits so we were interested to see how much longer it
took and which things were more difficult to do.  It became clear
that kneeling was the most common action yet the most tiring.  On
Mars you would want to interact with things on the ground yet space suits
for micro-gravity work in low earth orbit are designed for people to work
on things right in front of them, rather at their feet.  In the habitat
later that day, when we were discussing the EVA, the crew thought that
face plates that extend further down your chest that make it easier to
see the ground would be useful.  The equipment we were using was not
specifically designed for space suit work, which became clear very quickly. 
Some of the connectors were hard to access and the LCD screen on the computer
was difficult to read through our face plates because of small type and
reflections off the helmets.  Yet we were able to complete the survey
using not that much more extra time, it was in some respects easier than
I thought it would be.  Swinging a sledge hammer in a space suit was
an experience, a little cumbersome but doable.  Humans are amazingly
adaptable creatures, we managed ways around any problems we had.

Katy getting ready to provide a seismic source at one end of the geophone

Friday was a rainy day, therefore a rest day.  The Haughton Crater
area gets incredibly muddy in the rain and we ran the risk of getting bogged
down and stuck if we ventured too far afield in the ATVs.  There’s
still plenty of work to do in the interior of the FMARS habitat, I imagine
a Mars crew would spend a fair amount of their time on maintenance. 
I puttered around building a shelf in my room and tidying up here and there. 
It was also my day to cook so I spent more time on that than I might have
if we’d had a long day outside.  I made beef stew and mashed potatos,
out of various cans and powders.  Yum!  We’ve had a rotating
cooking schedule so every night someone new gets the chance to impress
their crew mates.  Or not.  I think the beef stew went down fairly
well, at least it didn’t come back up!  I used my secret ingredient
of cinnamon.  Other crew members spent the day writing in their journals,
catching up on reports, and Charles Cockell spent the day productively
in the downstairs laboratory, taking micrographs of cyanobacteria from
the rocks we collected a couple of days ago.  Bill Clancey used this
day to do a time lapsed study of how people are interacting and using the
habitat space.  He has also been taking precise measurements of the
interior of the habitat and it’s work spaces to create a computer model
in order to study patterns of space usage.  Friday was also the day
that two crew members got to have there first hot shower in a while. 
We are trying to save water and take sponge baths whenever possible, but
nothing beats a hot shower.  We’ve also been having some problems
with are generators so we haven’t been able to have our hot water on all
the time, only for shower times and then we have to be careful about what
other applicances we turn on so that we don’t blow the fuses.  Water
and power, two of the most essential resources we use on a daily basis
yet I know that when I’m home I don’t even think about running the tap
to brush my teeth or cranking up the microwave whenever I want a hot drink. 
Here we have to think about it because the source is so much more immediate
and the quantity available to us sufficient but limited.  I sure such
resources, as well as food, oxygen, and others, will have to be conserved
and used wisely and efficiently on a mission to Mars, not a bad lesson
to send home to Earth.

Bill Clancey recording interactions at a crew meeting.

View to crater from inside the FMARS habitat

Saturday was the best day yet.  We did a four person EVA to Trinity
Lake, a beautiful little lake down in the crater with an overlooking hill
of breccia where I could collect some geological samples.  The EVA
crew was lead by Charles Cockell, then there was Vladimir Pletser, Bill
Clancey, and myself.  We all had our own ATVs to get there, Trinity
Lake was a fair distance away over muddy ground.  Started off from
Haynes Ridge were the habitat is and made our way down to the plains leading
sloping into the crater.  All told it took about half an hour to get
there, I only got stuck in mud once but Vlad gave me a shove to get out. 
Before we started out Charles was a little worried that we weren’t going
to be able to get there all the way on the ATVs because of the mud, and
that we’d have to walk the last bit.  However we were lucky enough
to make it all the way, we pulled up on top of the breccia hill overlooking
the lake and got to work.  Charles had just had some cosmic ray dosimeters
delivered by the Marine paradrop of supplies into camp.  He deployed
some on breccia hill and down near and in the lake in order to measure
the amount of radiation that the microbes in this environment have to tolerate. 
The interesting thing is that we are only 200 miles from the magnetic North
pole, so there should be an increased amount of radiation coming in. 
Certainly on Mars any possible microbes would have to deal with high levels
of radiation, since Mars doesn’t have a strong magnetic field or thick
atmosphere to protect it.  Charles’ special interest is how microbial
life survives in extreme environments.  While Charles and Vlad deployed
the first set of dosimeters Bill Clancey documented  how they were
working together and I went on a rock hunt.  This was my first chance
to see breccia and shocked rocks in place, it really is quite beautiful
stuff.  The breccia is usually pale grey and studded with rocks fragments. 
Breccia is formed during impact when all the target rocks are mashed up
and thrown into the air, then fall back to Earth in a jumble.  At
least, that’s the highly technical and scientific explanation.  Basically,
it’s impact geology plum pudding, you never know what surprising nugget
you are going to find in it.  If you’re lucky you’ll find a piece
of the basement rock, Precambrian gneiss from 2 km deep.  After finishing
up at Trinity Lake we took a run about way back so that Vladimir could
scout out an interesting place to next deploy his seismic survey equipment. 
By the time we got back to the habitat we were exhausted but very happy,
it really was a fun day.  I now had some rocks to study and Charles
picked up more biological samples from the lake and surrounding rocks.

Three amigos on the Trinity Lake traverse, minus Bill Clancey behind
the camera.

Charles Cockell and Bill Clancey preparing a cosmic ray dosimeter for

Ah, here we are at Sunday so now I’m caught up.  Opps, look at
the time!  It’s Monday.  Yikes, I should get to sleep. 
Today wasn’t as action packed as yesterday’s trip to Trinity Lake. 
Myself, Robert Zubrin, and Vladimir Pletser did an ATV reconoiter up to
the Von Braun Planitia to look around for a place to delay Vlad’s seismic
survey.  This area is an wide plain that extends for a way beyond
the crater area.  Sometimes quite muddy but we didn’t have any real
problems today.  Vlad’s equipment is quite heavy, 120 kgs total, so
we have to be careful where we go with it.  We ranged far and wide
over the plains, it felt good to put some miles under the wheels. 
At our farthest point we were getting into some river fairly deep river
channels that cut the plains, had to watch out that we didn’t over extend
the ATVs and roll them.  Vladimir found one good site that was flat
enough yet not so muddy that it would completely attenuate the seismic
signal.  However on further discussion back at the habitat we decided
that the plains along the way to Trinity Lake would present a more interesting
and unique area to deploy the array.  We should be doing that tomorrow
(today) if the weather cooperates.  We may be operating at the edge
of what is comfortable and bearable in the suits, maybe 5 hours total. 
So I’d really better get to sleep now for our early start.  Goodnight
for now, love to everyone down South.

Vladimir and Katy getting ready to hit the open road.

Breccia samples from hill above Trinity Lake.

Copyright © 2001 Katy Quinn – All rights reserved. The text and images within
this web document may not be used or reproduced in any form or by any means,
or stored in a public database retrieval system, without prior written or
electronic permission of the author. Reproduced on SpaceRef with the permission of the author.

SpaceRef staff editor.