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2006-04-09, 2000h MST
AustroMars Mission Sol 2:
“Engineering EVA complete – Ground declared operational!””EVA Team this is HabCom, you are cleared to open the outer hatch of the airlock!”
With this words Christian Hutsteiner, the Flight Engineer, and myself, Norbert Frischauf, stepped out of the Habitat to begin our Engineering EVA (our Health and Safety Officer, Gernot Gröemer, acted as Habitat Commander). The objective of this EVA is easily described: Check-out the outer shell of the Habitat and the surroundings for any imminent dangers that could endanger the mission.
To have an as thoroughly as possible look, Christian and I took a webcam with us that we both used like the EVA spacesuit cameras used in the Apollo programme to relay images back to the Habitat for a closer inspection of specific devices afterwards. What we deliberately looked at was the cabling and piping underneath the habitat, the sealing of the airlock, the support structure of the Greenhab as well as that of the radio telescope. Everything was considered to be in reasonable shape, beside of one pillar of the radio telescope, which had tilted and was therefore not vertically aligned anymore. The flight engineer and I had that fixed rather quickly by straightening the support cords and pulling the pole into an upright position again.
Finally we had accomplished our task at the telescope and so we went on to check out the ATVs and the range of the audio and the video equipment. Driving along Sagan road we found out that both voice and video have an approximate range of 500 – 600 m, an obtained knowledge that will suit us well in future EVAs.
When we entered the Habitat after a 2.5 hour EVA, both Christian and I where completely wet from sweat. Such was the effort required during the EVA that Christian had burnt 1800 cal, much more than during any average work-out. Interesting though that both of us did not really feel the effort when we were outside. Maybe one should recommend MDRS-like missions to everyone who doesn’t like to work-out but wants to keep up in good shape nonetheless…
After we had finished the suit un-donning procedure, both the Flight Engineer and I checked the video from our EVA. As we found everything to be in reasonable shape, I declared “Ground operational” at 13:30.
Consequently, the afternoon saw another EVA, an emergency geology EVA. Although this sound dangerous, the opposite is the case. This EVA is done to ensure that there is at least some scientific return in case a major problem arises in the first few hours/days of the mission and the mission has to be aborted. If this would be the case then at least the geological samples of this first EVA would be returned to Earth to provide the long-awaited controlled sample to finally establish Martian ground-truth.
The EVA was performed by Gernot Gröemer and Christian Hutsteiner, HabCom was Alexander Soucek, the First Officer of the AustroMars Mission. After some hick-ups with the communication line – the radio range was found to be much shorter than was required for this EVA – the EVA was aborted in the first instance. But when the EVA team came back into range again it was decided to adopt the itinery to the communication constraints and therefore the EVA could be finished successfully, with 3 geological samples being obtained in a fashion compatible to planetary protection requirements.
In the meantime, our Mission Specialist for planetary Sciences, Christoph Kandler was working on the itinery for tomorrow EVA, while Markus Spiss, the Mission Specialist for Life Sciences, worked on biological experiments and checked out the Greenhab. I was focussing once more on checking out the AutroMars Rover Sissi. Now, with the Rover hardware entirely fixed it is up to the software guys to establish the satellite connection and the Rover Control Interface on the Rover-PC, which is needed to have Sissi roam the plains of Mars. If all goes well, we expect our beauty to make her first autonomous “steps” tomorrow or on Tuesday, Sol 4. Once this happens another key experiment of AustroMars will have been successfully declared operational…
Signing off for today
Commander, MDRS Crew 48 “AustroMars”
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