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Week 1: 2012 July 2 – 6
How can you tell summer has begun at the spacesuit lab? – That’s right, it’s pretty busy at the lab, because we students just cannot resist coming to work for the Austrian Space Forum as soon as the summer break has started, we got a job to do! ;)
Starting with Julia Neuner, who will be Staff Member at the lab for the next three months and the “go-to” person when Gernot is not around :-) – At the moment Julia is working on Aouda.S – while “S” stands for “Science”, she is going to be the little sister of our Aouda.X space suit simulator and will be inaugurated in Morocco next year.
On Tuesday evening I arrived in Innsbruck, leaving Vienna right after this semester’s last exam to be there on Wednesday morning (much too early for a student during summer!) and built some water rockets with primary school students. After a short introduction into basic rocketry by Gernot Grömer and some very interesting questions by the students we (Julia, Gernot and myself) headed to the construction site and let the students start building, naming and decorating the rockets.
Following completion of construction we proceeded to our launch pads, conveniently situated in the school garden and commenced with launching the rockets, filled with almost the same fuel as their bigger brothers (Hydrogen and Oxygen, albeit in its combined form, since we don’t want to blow up the school building ;) )
In the end we spend two very productive hours with the students, answered many questions and launched every rocket there was complete with launch delays and an excited audience watching us (the headmistress, teachers, the caretaker and other students). Hopefully we can visit them again next year.
(This class of students won the rocket building workshop at Innsbruck’s women and children run).
Although building water rockets with students is fun, my actual propose in Innsbruck is to immerse myself in Martian cave systems and their relevance for future human Mars missions – encouraged by our recent Dachstein Mission at the end of April 2012. At the moment I am busy reading lots of papers about the topic. I will say only this much: There’s more to caves than we might think – it’s going to be interesting.
At the end of the week Angel Usunov arrived at the lab, he’s a fellow physics student from Vienna and will help developing a positioning system deployable in the field for our suits. Together with Christoph Ragonig they are working on a theoretical model that could also be used on Mars during early missions. From time to time they are having some brainstorming sessions with the other members of the suitlab, bouncing ideas off each other and arriving at new conclusions – scientific research at its best :-).
But the working week for the OeWF does not simply end with Friday. On Sunday afternoon Gernot Grömer, Olivia Haider, Petra Sansone and myself conducted several virtual interviews with prospective volunteers for our MARS2013 campaign. The final selection will be done at the end of July, after even more interviews.
Besides those extraordinary activities there are some well known suspects visiting the suit lab and getting some work done (Sebastian Sams, Thomas Bartenstein) – may it be printing some parts on our 3D printer or discussing further proceedings with the team.
Well, that’s what I am talking about – summer in the lab – pretty hot and intensive. Stay tuned for further news!
This article is available in: German
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