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Media-Logbook 01: A rollercoaster of emotions
August 1st marked the start of the AMADEE-15 mission by the Austrian Space Forum (ÖWF). AMADEE-15 is a Mars simulation where specially trained analog astronauts carry out scientific experiments in a Mars-like environment, the Kaunertaler glacier. The media team is responsible to accompany the mission and let the public participate in it.
The official start of AMADEE-15 was on Monday, August 3rd, but in practice it already began on Saturday with the wakeup-call in the Mission Support Center (MSC). The first two days were the ‘prep-days’ (Preparation days) when the MSC booted, the field crew set up the base station and the media team started their activities: Tweets had to be prepared, press releases had to be written and the question of the day had to be answered. The latter is a series of daily educational articles where we present interesting details about AMADEE-15. While all of these activities were demanding already, they paled in comparison with what would follow the next day. So an appropriate description of day one would basically be ‘calm before the storm’.
On the second preparation day, a part of the media team was present at the glacier. After making it up the 29 hairpin curves past some cows and hogs, we met the field crew which was already working hard. We first followed analog astronaut Stefan Dobrovolny and ‘Bock’, a robot by Mattro which carries heavy objects, into the field where they set up the Lancom-Wifi-Hotspots that are necessary for the Aouda suits to communicate.
We then met some of the analog astronauts at the base station who were preparing for an EVA (extravehicular activity) in their space suits. Watching them live for the first time was a very emotional moment for me. After these cool experiences, we had to get to work ourselves in order to prepare the following day, when roughly 1.000 visitors were expected at the Kaunertaler glacier to learn more about AMADEE-15. So we spend the rest of the day setting up the various stations, especially the museum where the press conference would take place and some of the experiments would be demonstrated.
Next, it was time for the big day: On August 3rd, the media day, we would finally land on Mars. While on the previous day we all fit into a small car on the way from Innsbruck to the glacier, we now had two tour buses at our disposal in order to transport the large crowd of journalists, industrial partners and professional observers (and the ÖWF-team) to the glacier. The advantage of a tour bus compared to a car: More space for your legs. The disadvantage: No stop on the way to get some coffee (which is why I definitely prefer the car).
When we arrived at the glacier, the press conference started. Several journalists were eagerly listening to Dr. Gernot Grömer, president of the Austrian Space Forum and expedition leader of the Mars simulation, who was explaining the AMADEE-15 mission. The room got so crowded that we had to dismiss all the tourists at the door in order to keep the noise at an acceptable level.
After the press conference, the moment of truth had arrived: Carmen Köhler and Inigo Munoz Elorza left the base station and presented themselves to the world, or, to be more accurately, to Mars. An exciting moment, because now AMADEE-15 had officially begun. Surrounded by a crowd of ÖWF members, journalists and curiously observing glacier tourists, the analog astronauts began their ascent up the glacier in their 45kg-heavy space suits. Up there, the press was provided with film and photo material while the media team was busy chasing the tourists out of the pictures, which obviously failed, because you don’t get to see an analog astronaut every day. And who could blame them? After all, even I had to stop several times to gaze upon the shiny Aouda suits.
The rest of the day was scheduled for showing the observers around the various stations of the mission: They could have a look at the experiments conducted during AMADEE-15, at the base station where the analog astronauts get monitored during the EVA’s, at various rovers (which they could even drive themselves) and, of course, at the magnificent environment of the glacier. For us at the media team, this was the perfect time to retreat and share our experiences of the day via Twitter, Facebook, etc. with all the people that had to stay on Earth.
Around 16:30, the day was finally over and the tour bus departed from the glacier, filled with an exhausted, overwhelmed yet extremely excited crowd. For us at the media team, this was a memorable day, as we could experience the mission at the glacier at first hand. The remaining days will be spent in our Mediacom office in Innsbruck, which is pretty cool, but not watching-analog-astronauts-cool. Nonetheless, we are looking forward to the upcoming days of #AMADEE15 and #simulateMars and we hope that we will have you on board for that. MediaCom-Team out!
Author: Maximilian Betmann
This article is available in: German
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