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This is the Mission Support Center in Innsbruck, here with the daily news update, bringing you the news about yesterday’s MARS2013 events.
The field crew in Morocco continued to be plagued by high winds and dust- and sand storms. As on previous days, these adverse weather conditions remained an obstacle all day and necessitated the cancellation of a number of experiments, including DELTA.
In addition, the high winds have turned out to be a particular problem for the Aouda suits due to an issue with dust getting into the ventilation systems of the suits, as most of the day passed without the suits being used.
However, some experiments could still be carried through despite the storm, and the highlight of the day was a joint run with the two remotely-controlled rovers PULI and Magma White. The two rovers performed an elegant waltz in the desert for two and a half hours as the two project teams remained in contact with each other and coordinated the movements and maneuvers of the two rovers. By the end, the rovers had completed several cooperative tests and scientific operations, and even taken a series of pictures of each other.
In the afternoon, a smaller team successfully braved the winds and sand to explore a cave to the north of the camp. This exploration mission was to prepare for an experiment planned for sunrise and sunset on Sunday in which the team will measure thermal inertia inside the cave using an infrared camera. (The IR camera has been kindly provided by Dräger Austria, a sponsor of MARS2013.)
Back home on Earth, the OeWF participated in the “Hall Aktiv” event in Hall in Tirol, where we demonstrated the capabilities of the OeWF’s own Dignity rover to a very interested audience. Obviously, we’re pleased that several audience members had already heard of MARS2013 and asked questions about the mission!
About the experiments
DELTA measures the impact of wearing a spacesuit on an astronaut’s performance. Magma White is a remotely-controllable rover, serving as platform for the LIFE laser, which can detect organic materials. The Puli Rover is an autonomous rover capable of traversing difficult terrain and slopes up to 45 degrees.
Luca Foresta, analog astronaut in the Aouda spacesuit simulator on his experiences today:
“Sand, sand and sand again!
“This is the most accurate description of Day 23 of MARS2013. We have woken up with a beautiful day, still air, warm sun. Everything prompted for a successful simulation following the daily flightplan, which suggested DELTA and SREC tests respectively for our two space simulators Aouda.X and Aouda.S.
“Unfortunately, during donning strong winds started to blow over Camp Weyprecht, imposing an almost 1-hour long stand-by to experiments’ go. Actually, wind is not a problem for the suit’s activity per se, if it didn’t bring along thick dust/sand clouds which could be sucked in by the suit’s ventilation, a potential hazard for analog astronauts’ respiratory system.
“As the situation did not improved (actually it went worse and worse), we were given the doffing signal by the Mission Support Center in Innsbruck.
“Since then, we are trying to keep things safe from sand, but it feels like the 13th labour of Asterix and Obelix. Our tents now feature a 1 cm thick layer of dust and sand, which is destined to increase as weather forecast does not look in our favour. Wind intensity will keep increasing until midnight, raising more dust in the air; we actually have now little sand dunes in our camp (no kidding!).
“As the day turns to an end, we’ll try having a dust-free dinner and crawl into our sand castles hoping for a more merciful day tomorrow. MARS2013 is close to its end, but many experiments have still to take place.”
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