Thursday, January 17, 2008

This will be the last blog. We are scheduled to leave by C 17 for our return back to Christchurch, NZ in just a few hours. We feel extremely privileged to have had the opportunity to spend a short amount of time in such an extreme and unspoiled environment. You think of Ernest Shackleton’s incredible voyage in 1915 and all those who followed, including many that are here today - they did not try to tame the ice, but respect it and survive within it’s boundaries.

18 Jan
As I write this, it is our last day here. We are tired from an intense 10 days of work, but at the same time invigorated by what we have accomplished. The whole team – NASA, NSF, Raytheon, and ILC Dover - has really come together while we have been here. The last two days have been spent on several different fronts. We verified communication with engineers at JSC, and they assumed control of the cameras and data acquisition system. JSC also began collecting data from the Hab as well as feeding data from JSC to the instrumentation system. We also finished the sustaining plan and maintenance procedures to be left here for those that will be at McMurdo during the year winterover period. Lastly, we documented with closeout photos, the condition of the Hab as we leave it.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

16 Jan
The day was greeted with snow and fairly strong winds. It was interesting to see how the structure basically "shed" the accumuation as the day progressed. We finished the final sensor placements. There is a certain amount of calibration required once the sensors are in place, so that was also accomplished. The connection back to Johnson Space Center was also utilized during a good part of the day. As far as the structure, we demonstrated the use of the “regolith bags”. Some concepts for providing radiation protection on the lunar surface includes using local resources (lunar soil) placed into containers and placed over the lunar habitat. Here at McMurdo we incorporated the same concept using the local resource (snow) on exterior bags that are attached to the Hab. The day was completed with our overnight stay using sleeping bags provided by Byrd Field Center.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

15 Jan
Today was used to finish the installation of sensors, verify the connection back to Johnson Space Center, and further document the structure and our work. First, we monitored CO2 levels internal to the Hab with all six of us working inside the Hab. Readings were recorded every five minutes over a two hour period. We also recorded the interior temperature levels (with no additional heating). The design characteristics of the structure (inflated structural tubes) seems to provide a fairly good thermal insulation layer. Additional external sensors were put in place under the Hab, and we did some initial looks at the images from the thermal imaging done the previous day.
Late afternoon provided us the opportunity to document the Hab and some of its features using a high definition video camera. The last part of the day was spent organizing and starting to package the repair materials and spares that will be left here for NSF and Raytheon for the over-winter period.

Monday, January 14, 2008

13 Jan
Monday, 13 January was spent really turning the Hab into a work area. We installed internal hardware including lights, heaters, cameras, computers, and air quality monitors (Humidity, airflow, & CO2 sensors). We also started the installation of instrumentation (loop antennas and saw tag antennas) and established communications with the various temperature and pressure sensors. The weather station has been activated and connected to the habitat computer and most of the sensors have started monitoring and recording data. Communication with the McMurdo Intranet was also established and verified.

Another key activity was using a thermal imaging camera to take readings not only of the inflatable hab, but also operational Jamesway huts at the Long Duration Balloon Facility at Williams’s field. The Jamesway is a 1950’s era plywood/canvas unit that has been used by NSF for a number of years and is comparable in size and functionality to our unit. This thermal imaging will help us understand what heat leak we experience with our unit, and we expect a significant improvement on thermal efficiency.

Plans for tomorrow call for completing additional sensor installation and calibration, CO2 monitoring of the interior while in use, and a “christening” of the Hab with the six of us overnighting in it Wednesday night.

This blog entry is actually being entered while in the Hab itself, so we have officially established a “home away from home” !!!!!!!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

13 Jan
Here are a few photos from our day spent taking in all the incredible environment that is around us here )including the icebreaker....)

13 Jan
Here are a few photos from our day spent taking in all the incredible environment that is around us here )including the icebreaker....)

More photos from Saturday.

12 Jan
Saturday, January 12 started with preparation for our 3 demonstrations (9 am, 1 pm and 7 pm). We also started sensor installation, and finished the ground anchors. The weather station installation was completed (in pictures it shows as the 2 inch diameter pole adjacent to the hab). This will allow those at Johnson Space Center to remotely record weather conditions with the structure use while it is deployed for the year. A drill was brought in to make sure it was securely anchored (again thanks to the personnel here at McMurdo).
For the 3 demonstrations of the structure deployment, we started inside the hab for a short briefing describing plans for lunar habitats, the structure itself, and how the innovative partnership between NASA/NSF/ILC Dover will benefit all parties. After this we exited the structure and deflated, then reinflated. Each time it took approximately 6 minutes for each. We had over 100 people (total) for the three demonstrations - it has become a topic of conversation around McMurdo. Not only was there large attendance, but also we benefited from the feedback we received from those that came. From those that have stayed in field camps to fire and rescue personnel to scientists. There was even a Middle School science teacher from Blanco, Texas who is here on an exchange program for teachers. We ended the busy day with making sure we were prepared for Monday’s (14 Jan) sensor installations. Sunday will be a break day for us and we plan on a few hikes and a tour of the Oden, the Swedish Icebreaker, which plowed it’s way to the Ice Pier this afternoon.