Dr. Michaela Musilova is the director of Hawaii Area Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) program, which conducts analog missions to the moon and Mars for scientific analysis at a habitat on the volcano Mauna Loa. Presently, she is answerable for the two-week Selene III lunar mission and contributed this report back to Area.com’s Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.
Commander’s Report for the Selene III Moon Mission at HI-SEAS
Lunar Day eight (March 1, 2021)
Gray and extra gray. That’s all that we might see outdoors the window — countless gray “mud clouds” on the moon (aka mist and storm clouds on the volcano Mauna Loa in Hawaii the place the HI-SEAS analog house habitat is situated). At this time was the eighth day of full confinement for the Selene III crew contained in the habitat. The crew cannot go on moonwalks outdoors of the habitat except the atmospheric situations are secure for them. Any type of storm poses a significant security hazard for the crewmembers on each the simulated moon and the precise volcanic terrain HI-SEAS is situated in.
Day after day, extra hope began to empty away from every crewmember. At first, they might look out the primary habitat window each jiffy hoping for a special view. Slowly, it turned searching the window each few hours. When somebody remarked that they may see some new topographic options showing inside the gray mud, the entire crew would rush to the window stuffed with hope. Now, some crewmembers would like that the window be coated up so the greyness outdoors wouldn’t depress us additional.
Not with the ability to go outdoors to carry out analysis experiments and discover the lunar floor is barely a part of the issue. On unhealthy climate days, we won’t recharge our habitat’s batteries correctly, as they’re solar-powered. Throughout mud storms, little or no photo voltaic vitality reaches the photo voltaic panels outdoors of the habitat. Because of this we’ve got to dwell in so-called low energy mode to get via every day. One of many first issues that we do is unplug all gadgets that are not very important to our survival and we flip the heating down dramatically (to round 55 levels Fahrenheit, or 13 levels Celsius).
Chilly and disheartened, the Selene III crew had their first very low spirit day immediately. They’ve been making an attempt arduous to seek out the silver lining in our scenario and to cheer themselves up with numerous enjoyable actions. Nonetheless, one more gray day appears to have carried out the trick. Even crewmembers from the Valoria 1 crew reached out to us with phrases of encouragement and privately exclaimed to me, “not once more!” They themselves suffered via a sequence of very low energy days and countless moonwalk rescheduling.
One other detrimental side of this case is that the crew began to mistrust our Mission Assist group and CAPCOM (capsule communicator, who’s the primary individual speaking with the crew from the Mission Management Heart on Earth). We now have a giant group of volunteers that carry out Mission Assist and CAPCOM duties throughout every mission at HI-SEAS. One among their many roles is to supply climate studies and forecasts to the crew every day or much more often upon request.
Their predictions haven’t been very correct for the previous week, so my crewmembers have change into very skeptical of any info offered to them in relation to the climate. This sort of crew-ground disconnect is a mutiny of types, which isn’t unusual on each analog and actual house missions. It could actually develop for a variety of causes, as an illustration, when the employees on Earth has too many calls for for the crew in house or on this case, when Mission Assist supplies the crew with inaccurate info. I’ve thus been needing to remind the crew that this discrepancy in info is attributable to incomplete knowledge from our location on the moon and never from the ill-will of our Mission Assist group.
It was time for a change earlier than my crew would change into extra grumpy and depressed. All of us must train for no less than 30 minutes on daily basis, so I prompt that we’ve got a dance get together as our train session for immediately. On this manner, we fulfilled our train quota for the day and cheered ourselves up. I had each crewmember select their favourite track for us to bop to and I began us off with some ’90s techno music. Subsequent factor I knew, there have been smiles on my group’s faces once more and all of us felt a lot hotter too.
Full of extra optimistic vitality, we determined to proceed with enjoyable and artistic actions to maintain our spirits excessive. Most crewmembers are huge followers of the Star Wars motion pictures, so we determined to introduce them to the others that had not appear them but. Quickly sufficient, crewmembers would alternate inside jokes about “Darkish Vader” and “beautiful” Skywalker household traditions of reducing off one another’s arms with lightsabers. We even posed for a enjoyable crew image along with simulated lightsabers. Contemplating my previous jokes about favoring the darkish facet, based on my experiences with the Valoria 2 crew, I selected a purple lightsaber.
These difficult instances on the Selene III mission have been an awesome supply of inspiration for Science Communication Officer Brooke Edwards’ outreach venture. Brooke has been recording her expertise as an analog astronaut to investigate what she thinks will likely be necessary elements for the psychological wellbeing of future house vacationers. Her expertise has proven that good relationships inside the crew and having a optimistic mindset are very important to the success of a simulated house mission.
Equally, our Operations Officer Eboni Brown has been capable of gather very fascinating knowledge for her persistent stress and human connectivity examine via nameless survey questions. Outcomes of her analysis will assist decide what affect persistent stress, similar to the global pandemic, had on the Selene III crew and their capacity to attach with one another.
Nonetheless, the remainder of the crew confronted additional detrimental information on mission as a consequence of their initiatives not going in addition to they hoped. Crew Bioengineer Zoe Maxwell’s perchlorate and nitrate discount utilizing micro organism and aquaponics began out properly and confirmed indicators of preliminary success. Nonetheless, one of many fish within the aquaponics a part of the experiment died and the vegetation, which she was making an attempt to develop, by no means tailored to the difficult setting within the habitat and ended up wilting.
Crew Engineer Oscar Ojeda’s venture, targeted on the characterization of the communications and hazards throughout an analog house mission, has been progressing steadily. Nonetheless, he has not been capable of consider something associated to doing moonwalks, for the reason that crew has been restricted to the within of the habitat due to the mud storms. As an alternative, he targeted on new initiatives, similar to working and testing the Slovak RoboTech Imaginative and prescient firm’s Androver we’ve got at HI-SEAS.
At the very least a part of Bioscience Officer Jason Fischer’s venture goes properly. He’s making an attempt to find out the efficacy of simulated wastewater permeate as a nutrient supply for rising microgreens. Jason is evaluating it to an business normal hydroponic nutrient resolution. To date, the wastewater permeate is just not conducive to rising microgreens and it’ll should be handled with a nutrient modification to reach this endeavor.
Commander Musilova signing off hoping the drive will likely be with us and that we’ll see extra than simply gray outdoors the window tomorrow.
Observe Michaela Musilova on Twitter @astro_Michaela. Observe us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Fb.