Real Engineering on Simulated Mars

Remember those old math questions you had in algebra class?  Where water is entering a container at a certain rate and leaving at a different rate and you need to figure out when it’ll be empty?  Well, that concept is critical to the “Mark Watney doesn’t die” project I’m working on.

– Mark Watney, from the book “The Martian”

In the book “The Martian” (and, I’m assuming, the movie too, we haven’t seen it yet), Mark Watney performs a lot of calculations.  He has very limited resources to work with to keep himself alive.  For example, he calculates the amount of calories available to eat from the potatoes he grows, and, from there, calculates how many days of food he has left.  He also calculates the amount of water he needs to grow his potatoes and keep himself healthy.

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MRO and Water on Mars

This is a significant development, as it appears to confirm that water — albeit briny — is flowing today on the surface of Mars.

John Grunsfeld, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate

So, the big news from Mars that everyone’s talking about – so big that we’ve even heard about it here on simulated Mars – is: NASA confirmed evidence of liquid water flowing on Mars.  As it happens, I have a personal connection with this news, and would love to tell you the story…

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The Aliens’ First Month of Surfing

This is one of a series of articles the entire HI-SEAS IV crew is writing to celebrate and reflect upon our first month in the dome.  Please also visit:

“One Month Down, Eleven to Go. Feeling Fine!” by Tristan Bassingthwaighte

“This Alien Shore: 1 Month on sMars” by Sheyna Gifford

“Der erste Monat” by Christiane Heinicke (Google translation)

“Why Everyone Should Live in a Dome for a Year” by Carmel Johnston

“First Month on Simulated Mars” by Cyprien Verseux

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On Sunlight and Space Exploration

Give me the splendid silent sun with all his beams full-dazzling.

Walt Whitman, first line of poem “Give Me the Splendid Sun”.

For today’s post, I’d like to springboard a bit from my crewmate Shey’s recent blog post.  In her article, she explores an interesting question: if humans have a need to retreat underground in order to survive on other worlds, will they be able to cope with the absence of sunlight?  I’d like to think about that briefly too.  Will astronauts need to see the Sun?  Or are there tricks we can play in its absence?

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Our First Bootprints

I’ve opened the airlock hatch, and EVA1 has started.  Please mark the time.

“What the hell is this?  Looks like someone was having a party here, and didn’t feel like cleaning up after themselves”  Sweat dripped from my forehead, and my faceplate had fogged up, but I still had no trouble recognizing what I was looking at.  We’d stumbled upon a cache of beer cans and other garbage carelessly half-concealed underneath the aʻa near our water tanks.  My EVA teammate Cyprien and I got to work, moving the rocks and picking up the garbage, Cyprien using a long grabber arm, and me trying carefully not to let the sharp metal tear into my suit gloves.  We’d gone out to pick up debris, but this wasn’t exactly what we’d expected.

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Onward to sMars

Contact light.

– Buzz Aldrin, the first words spoken from the surface of the Moon, as the lander Eagle touched down on Mare Tranquillitatis

It’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to post; training and mission start have kept us very busy over the past several days.  As our network support specialist Marc Seibert aptly pointed out to us, real astronauts will have years of training before they launch to Mars; we had just one very packed week to get everything in.

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