In November 2020, Space.com’s Chelsea Gohd will accompany a aggregation of advisers for a two-week analog mission to Mars at the HI-SEAS (Hawaii Amplitude Analysis Analog and Simulation) habitat, which is amid on the ancillary of the abundance Mauna Loa.
Gohd will be demography allotment in this analog Mars mission — a mission that simulates what it would be like to alive and assignment on Mars. Follow Chelsea’s boating to “Mars” actuality with complete mission updates. Accompany us actuality for “launch” Nov. 2!
It’s assuredly happening, I’m activity to Mars! Well, not really, but I will abutting a apish Mars mission at the HI-SEAS abode in Hawaii in November alongside astrobiologist and aggregation administrator Michaela Musilova (who is additionally administrator of HI-SEAS), Air Force airman and arch engineering administrator Amanda Knutson, veterinarian and arch medical administrator Brandy Nunez, science biographer and aggregation science advice administrator Beth Mund and artisan and aggregation carnality administrator Richelle Gribble.
The mission will be allotment of the Sensoria program, which aims to abutment underrepresented groups aural the amplitude sector.
“All of our missions will be female-led and female-majority. We, of course, will acceptable with accessible accoutrements our macho colleagues, but we accept that women allegation to be placed at the centermost of our aggregate eyes for amplitude exploration, that women allegation to be accustomed a belvedere for able development, opportunities for analysis and training,” bioengineer and Sensoria co-founder J.J. Hastings, who serves as the CEO of Analogs LLC, a aggregation that backs the Sensoria program, told Space.com in January.
It’s official, I’m on my way to Mars! This morning at about 8:30 a.m. PST, I affected bottomward in San Francisco, center to the Big Island of Hawaii area the HI-SEAS abode is amid on the slopes of Mauna Loa.
A few of my Mars crewmembers will accompany me for the flight and, in aloof a few abbreviate hours we will access at Kona and bound activate the drive to the habitat. We will be traveling anon from the airport to “Mars” to annihilate any balance accident of contagion from the atypical coronavirus — it is absolutely aberrant abrogation Earth for Mars during a pandemic, the day afore a above Presidential election.
Today (Sol 2, November 3 aback on Earth), I awoke to my aboriginal abounding day on Mars. Now, while today has been a massive acquirements ambit in abounding ways, today is additionally the U.S. presidential acclamation aback on Earth — a aberrant aboriginal day on Mars for sure.
Because of the jetlag (Mars is a affiliated way from home), I woke up a bit beforehand than accepted and, afterwards accession a bit and demography in some abysmal breaths as I get acclimated to the hardly lower oxygen levels, my crewmates were alive and adamantine at assignment accepting breakfast together — cooking is a assignment that we circle amid aggregation members. Over shelf abiding pancakes, we discussed the day ahead, what we bare to accomplish, and how we appetite accept acclamation account as it comes in. Now, our alone advice with Earth is through email so those of us who capital to be abreast (which I do) emailed the mission abutment team, which supports CAPCOM at mission control, requesting that they email us advice as it becomes available. With the communications adjournment we still won’t apperceive things as they happen, but it’s about quick (for Mars.)
After breakfast, I conducted a microbial study — each aggregation affiliate has an assigned role and, as Arch Science Officer, I conduct three of these studies throughout the continuance of the mission. I led the aggregation through a “swab party,” area we anointed our bodies and I anointed the habitat. These samples will add to a anatomy of abstracts assuming what bacilli are active on us and in the abode while on Mars.
Following the microbial study, arch medical administrator Brandy Nunez went over how we will aggregate circadian belly (temperature, bulk of sleep, accepted condition, aliment consumed) to clue the crew’s health.
Next, we all went over some added capacity of active in the habitat — how to use the (very complicated) bath system, things to bethink aback application the kitchen and facilities, and how to conserve water, electricity and alike claimed activity as abundant as possible. We afresh breach into teams to complete account of the aliment and charwoman aliment so we can booty agenda of what we accept to ensure we’ll accept abundant and to acquaint approaching crews.
Later in the evening, as clouds formed in accoutrement our solar array, we entered a “low ability mode,” acceptation that all non-essential ability was eliminated — lights angry off, accessories unplugged, etc. It seems as admitting the acclimate is accepting hardly bigger so the aggregation is not too worried, but we will accept to adjournment to see what comes with the weather.
I accept not yet accustomed the after-effects of today’s acclamation and am not abiding how it will feel. It is no abstruse that this acclamation is acutely answerable and, actuality abandoned on Mars with a new aggregation in a baby space, it is absolutely a altered situation. However, aftermost night, the aggregation met to altercate our expectations with how we ability acknowledge to all get on the aforementioned folio as, with animal amplitude exploration, aggregation advice is key.
Today (Sol 3, November 4), I awoke to a algid habitat, aggravating in arrogant to about-face the ablaze on. Activity bench to investigate added and accepted that the abode was (temporarily) afterwards power. As added crewmembers awoke, we got calm some breakfast that didn’t crave electricity to accomplish and broiled ourselves up.
When administrator Musilova woke up, she accepted what she doubtable the night before — the clouded skies on Sol 2 (Nov. 3), acquired two of the three abode batteries to drain. And, while the third array was abutting to abounding at 85 percent, it didn’t automatically about-face on aback the added two were spent. But anon afterwards administrator Musilov cycled (turned off and on again) the three batteries, they started aback up, the two abandoned beef bound started to allegation and we had ability again.
Once “on,” we resumed (and finished) the abode inventory — checking what aliment and charwoman aliment we accept and how abundant of anniversary is left. Account will be completed afresh at the end of the mission, assuming how abundant of the aliment we acclimated and required, allegorical approaching missions.
Following account we had lunch. I am advantageous in that abounding of the aggregation associates on this mission are accomplished chefs and bakers (personally, I’m alive on it), but it is absolutely an acclimation bistro alone shelf-stable Mars food. No beginning aftermath whatsoever, aggregate has to be rehydrated and, not alone does the aliment aftertaste … altered … it additionally takes a lot best to baker so we’ve been alternating affable and charwoman duties.
After eating, we all resumed our alone analysis projects and assignment though, at one point we all absitively that a abrupt nap was necessary. Actuality on Mars, alike aural our habitat, there is hardly beneath oxygen than we’re acclimated to aback at our corresponding homes on Earth. So, while we are all able to complete our analysis and exercise every day, it’s important that we all are accurate to not advance ourselves too adamantine physically. It’s a chase on Mars, not a sprint.
This afternoon, we had planned to complete EVA (extravehicular activity, additionally accepted as spacewalks or, in this case, Marswalks) training with Administrator Musilova and potentially alike go out on our aboriginal EVA, a abbreviate analysis abutting to the habitat. However, because we got a afterwards alpha with our analysis and circadian tasks than advancing because of the ability outage, EVA1, the aboriginal EVA of the mission, will accept to adjournment for tomorrow (if the acclimate holds, fingers crossed.)
One added absorbing tidbit about the mission, Sensoria M2, is that we will not accept a resupply of baptize until Sunday.
We started the mission with about 64 gallons of baptize and, while we accept affluence of baptize for bubbler (in fact, bubbler baptize and blockage hydrated is of the absolute accent during the mission), the aggregation is above showers until the baptize resupply arrives. Abounding of us accept deodorant, biodegradable anatomy wipes and dry absterge to get us through the shower-less week, but it’s absolutely an acclimation from the availability of baptize area we are all from aback on Earth — certainly a luxury, we are reminded.
Today (Sol 4, November 5), I woke up to a admirable ablaze day on Mars. I arrested my email to see if there was any acclamation account (which, there wasn’t abundant that was new) and I able for my first-ever EVA (extravehicular activity), or Marswalk!
With the abode (or dome) now at aloof 9 percent baptize and with a resupply mission still canicule abroad (our baptize accumulation is set to arrive Sol 7 (Nov. 8)) I refrained from showering with the blow of the crew. (Don’t adjudicator me, we allegation to save baptize to drink!)
In alertness for our aboriginal EVA (extravehicular activity, or spacewalk, which took abode this afternoon, commander Musilova gave us an overview on the history of analog EVAS, and accurately EVAs at the HI-SEAS habitat. Afterward this presentation, she absolved us through cartography basics and what types of bedrock are bounded to the abode site.
Finally — it was time for my aboriginal EVA, EVA1 for this mission. Administrator Musilova absolved us through how to put on our spacesuits, helmets and attach anniversary other’s activity abutment backpacks — and we were accessible to go! Afterwards cat-and-mouse in the airlock to acclimatize to the Martian pressures, we stepped out and I took my aboriginal accomplish on a Martian apparent in the suit.
We went on a about abbreviate EVA — just about an hour — and journeyed out to two altered locations adjacent the dome. First, we went to the “waterfall of death,” as it’s been so accurately nicknamed. Funny thing, there’s no baptize at the avalanche of death. Rather, it’s a ample atrium in the abundance and, over one of the abandon of the crater, accustomed pahoehoe bedrock (smooth, flowy bedrock that hardens in “elephant skin” attractive patterns) cascades over the edge.
After demography in the architect and communicable my breath, as it is EXHAUSTING traversing the Martian area in a abundant helmet and activity abutment haversack (it would be difficult afterwards the abundant equipment, the bedrock rocks are catchy to navigate), we arrested out “Mordor” (yes, as in THAT Mordor) — a massive bedrock tube that is so anxiety that not alone can bodies not analyze it, but alike automatic instruments accept had austere adversity analytical inside.
Exhausted and captivated from the adventure, we alternate to the arch and stretched. I am abscessed and a little bit out of animation afterwards the acquaintance but I cannot WAIT to do it all over again.
Sol 5 (Nov. 6), I woke up ablaze and aboriginal as accepted (because of the jetlag from jumping time zones (Earth to Mars is a austere leap)) and abutting my crewmates bench for a Martian pancake breakfast. So far, Martian pancakes are my admired off-planet food.
Since there aren’t “weekends,” on Mars like we ability accept on Earth, I and the blow of the aggregation took this morning as a blow period, not hasty through our tasks and, instead, communicable up on our Earth communications and authoritative advance with analysis projects. Afore I knew it, however, it was already time for the additional Marswalk, or EVA, of the mission.
Because I went Marswalking bygone (and cannot WAIT to go again), arch science advice administrator Beth Mund and arch engineering administrator Amanda Knutson, forth with carnality administrator Richelle Gribble and administrator Michaela Musilova ventured out assimilate the Martian apparent today.
But, aback I was not alfresco for the Marswalk, it was my assignment to serve as habcom (habitat communicator), about befitting tabs on the aggregation and authoritative abiding that they were safe throughout the expedition. To do this, I monitored cameras set up about the alfresco of the abode (to see them aback they larboard and returned) and announced with them through Bluetooth advice accessories we all wore (it all acquainted actual “Star Trek,” I’ll be honest.)
After they alternate from exploring the Martian area and we all filed our circadian mission letters (an important allotment of any amplitude mission), I set the date for a Martian bedrock concert.
When I’m not autograph about amplitude and science, I’m autograph and arena music as “Foxanne,” so I brought a baby travel-sized guitar and tonight “after hours,” I put on a achievement of aboriginal music for my crewmates. The achievement centered about one song, blue-blooded “Let it Ache,” (which premieres Nov. 9), which is about the winter in New York and how acceptable it feels to feel the sun on your bark and see blooming things growing again. To me, the affect anon parallels the adventures of astronauts. For me alike now, afterwards aloof a few canicule on Mars not activity the alfresco breeze or seeing abundant Earth bulb growth, I’m already appetite its sweet, candied return.
Today Sol 6 (Nov. 7) was an astonishing day abounding of abrupt twists and turns. Aboriginal off, as my admired ones aback on Earth already knew, aback I woke up and arrested my email I begin out that President-elect Joe Biden and Carnality President-elect Kamala Harris had won the 2020 U.S. presidential election.
The account followed canicule of not knowing, blockage my emails sporadically acquisitive for little $.25 of advice about the election. But, amid the time area aberration and the 40-minute advice adjournment (our alone advice with Earth is through email and it takes 20 account anniversary way to accelerate a message), $.25 of advice were few and far between.
While the mission ascendancy abutment aggregation helped to accumulate me informed, afterward the acclamation was absolutely altered than it would accept been on Earth — watching the news, afterward accessories and statistics alive and communicating in real-time with accompany and family.
Following the acclamation account and some added Mars aliment (I am advantageous to accept crewmates with aberrant affable skills, but I cannot adjournment to aftertaste real, beginning Earth aliment again) I able for what was declared to be the third Marswalk of the mission.
However, a storm raged through the morning and didn’t die bottomward in time to conduct the Marswalk today. Alike with agilely inclimate weather, it is not safe to go out on a Marswalk, as it can accomplish it added acceptable to blooper on the bedrock rocks outside, and poor acclimate can abuse the activity abutment systems that we wear.
So, instead of risking bloom and assurance outside, my crewmates and I backward central and affiliated our EVA (extravehicular activity), or Marswalk, training, activity over the altered bedrock tubes adjacent (my favorites appropriate now are Mordor and the Sarlacc Pits) and accepting acclimated to application our advice and aeronautics accessories that acquiesce us to break affiliated to the abode via Bluetooth and acquisition out way about the asperous area application GPS coordinates.
We afresh formed on our projects and analysis central the habitat. Hopefully tomorrow, I will biking out aback to Mordor and adventure to see my aboriginal Martian bedrock tubes.
Tomorrow will be an agitative day for added affidavit as (finally) our bombinate resupply will acreage and we will accept abundant baptize to shower. Afterwards about a abounding anniversary afterwards showers, we are all actual aflame about the admission water.
Today (Sol 7, November 8, 2020) was a absurd day. The aboriginal amazing Martian moment of the day was award aback I woke up that, in the aboriginal hours of the morning, a “drone resupply” had delivered added baptize for our little habitat.
This was absolutely acceptable account because, above-mentioned to the delivery, the absolute abode (including bubbler water, our sinks and shower) were bottomward to 6% water, or aloof 29 gallons. To be fair, we alone started with 64 gallons and were decidedly able at attention baptize over the aboriginal abounding anniversary in the habitat. But while we will abide to conserve baptize (a austere affair for astronauts active off-Earth with bound supplies) this commitment meant that we would (finally) be able to booty showers on Mars! (Hallelujah).
This was abnormally acceptable account because this afternoon I, forth with three of my Martian colleagues, put my spacesuit aback on and ventured aback out into the Mars terrain. We explored out to a bedrock tube and back — an backbreaking but absurd adventure that took us about 3 hours.
Getting to the skylight (the aperture in the Earth arch to a bedrock tube) which led us into the bedrock tube underground was no baby feat. With a abundant helmet and absorbed activity abutment backpack, we climbed over bland pahoehoe and crumbly, difficult ‘a’a to get to the site. Once there, we anxiously climbed bottomward into the bedrock tube, accurate not to put our abounding weight on rocks afore testing if they ability accord way.
We affiliated to ascend through the bedrock tube, now with flashlights anecdotic the way. As we trekked, patches of ablaze white started to arise on the cavern walls and ceiling. As administrator Musilova explained, this is the blazon of actual that NASA Goddard is belief to see if it is created by activity or not. By belief acute diminutive breed in acute locations such as this, scientists can abstraction what activity on added planets like Mars ability be like and get a bigger abstraction of area they may exist.
In accession to actuality a scientifically alluring site, the cavern was additionally astoundingly beautiful, with ablaze white stalactites and a beauteous array of bedrock types. It absolutely acquainted like I was on an conflicting world, both in the cavern and throughout the absolute expedition.
Today (Sol 8, November 9, 2020 aback on Earth) was an absorbing day on Mars and a quick assignment that one: amplitude is hard, and two: apprehend the unexpected.
When I went to besom my teeth afterwards alive up this morning annihilation came out of the faucet. Strange, I thought, as bygone (Sol 7, Nov. 8) we aloof got a beginning “remote drone” baptize resupply and should accept a abounding baptize tank. But, as I bound learned, while we had a abounding baptize tank, an affair with our baptize arrangement was endlessly the baptize from absolutely accepting to us (oh, the irony).
The aggregation and I went to assignment bushing up pots and bowls of baptize from the one bore that any baptize was advancing through (and it was a bald crawl as best) aloof in case it was absolutely a while afore we had a absolutely activity baptize arrangement again.
To get a afterpiece attending at what was amiss with the baptize system, administrator Musilova and administrator Knutson teamed up for an emergency EVA (extravehicular activity, or “Marswalk”). While they ill-fitted up in spacesuits to go alfresco the abode to investigate, I served as HABCOM (habitat communicator) from central our little arch home.
As HACOM, I acclimated a Bluetooth advice accessory to acquaint with the aggregation on the Marswalk. I additionally monitored the cameras surrounding the abode to accumulate an eye on them — overall, ensuring that their mission was a safe one.
Still with no bright acknowledgment as to what was amiss with our baptize system, administrator Musilova contacted the “remote drones” that refilled our baptize the day afore and they alternate to advice us appraise the situation. It angry out that our baptize pump had burst and so they formed off afresh into the Martian dusk to retrieve a additional pump and baptize catchbasin from accumulator nearby. Afterward our contempo ability outage, it was about absurd that we were already accepting addition above issue. Authoritative ablaze of the situation, the aggregation accursed the Beastie Boys’ “Sabatoge,” while autograph our mission letters about the day.
Tonight afterward dinner, I will additionally be accomplishing my role as Arch Science Administrator and will conduct the additional of three microbial studies to be completed throughout the mission. Nicknamed “swab parties,” during these studies I advance the aggregation through swabbing things like the abdomen of their cheeks and the airlock door. The after-effects of this abstraction will appearance what diminutive creatures were active on us and our ambiance while on Mars.
This morning (Sol 9, November 10 aback on Earth), I woke a bit added sluggishly than usual — the baptize accident of Sol 8 seems to accept annoyed me and my crewmates out. But there is no time to decay on Mars so, as we ate breakfast fabricated with some of the emergency baptize alone off by the “repair bots” who formed on our baptize arrangement on Sol 8 (Nov. 9), and got to assignment planning our day.
Because we were still afterwards baptize and a dust storm had formed in, a Marswalk (or EVA (extravehicular activity)) was off the table for the day. However, while we were all sad that we couldn’t don our spacesuits and arch out into the betraying Martian bedrock rocks, it gave us the amplitude to use the afternoon and black to assignment on our alone projects.
But, while we all spent time on our own analysis and work, we all took some time calm to complete a 3D addle of planet Earth as a crew — a teamwork exercise that reminded us of the planet we’ll be abiding to in aloof a few abbreviate days, or sols.
After the puzzle-building and a abrupt hula assignment with our administrator of abounding talents, the adjustment bots had alternate to fix our baptize arrangement and it was time to bounce into action. We regained a abrupt crawl of baptize from the bore in the laboratory, so we emptied the now near-empty emergency baptize jug into adjacent pots and pans and, application a big basin and a funnel, captured as abundant baptize as possible.
Luckily, the bots were acknowledged and (finally) we had a alive baptize pump again! However, while our faucets were active again, we were animated to accept calm the added baptize because, as we accept bound learned — anything can (and will) arise on Mars.
Hopefully tomorrow doesn’t accompany addition crisis, astringent abstruse malfunction, dust storm, or added adverse anomaly. However, if it does, it seems like we as a aggregation are able to handle appealing abundant annihilation Mars throws our way.
Today (Sol 10, November 11) was a animation of beginning (well … as beginning as it gets central a arch I can’t leave).
The accomplished anniversary and half, our aggregation has endured a new crisis abreast every day: from accident ability to accident baptize for assorted canicule to a near-constant battery of “Martian dust storms.” But, while the acclimate wasn’t acceptable abundant to go out on a Marswalk today (the activity abutment haversack cannot book the storms, and aggressive over bedrock rocks in a abundant spacesuit during a storm isn’t a abundant abstraction safety-wise), it was absurd activity through today afterwards accepting to anguish about accepting baptize or power.
Leaving Earth will bound admonish you to not booty for accepted what abounding of us are advantageous to accept aback at home.
While ashore central for addition day, aggregation associates formed on their alone analysis projects. But I will admit, while it was nice to be able to assignment central the arch afterwards an actual crisis underway, 10 canicule into the mission and accepting alone stepped alfresco for two Marswalks appropriately far, I am agog to get aback alfresco again. Alike activity the breeze adjoin the alfresco of a spacesuit can feel auspicious if you haven’t breathed beginning air in over a week.
Perhaps the better aberration we as a aggregation accept fabricated so far is advertence pizza. I can’t bethink absolutely how it slipped its way into chat but wow, what I wouldn’t accord for a animation of beginning air and a allotment of pizza today.
We’ve been authoritative do with our freeze-dried peas and dehydrated amazon crumb but Mars aliment is absolutely … different.
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