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 in charge of the two-week Valoria 2 mission and contributed this report back to Area.com’s Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.
Commander’s Report for the Valoria 2 Mars Mission at HI-SEAS
Sol 14 (Feb. 17, 2021)
It is our final evening on Mars and I am unable to assist myself from feeling unhappy, once more. One more nice mission is coming to a detailed. I am already dreading the goodbyes that may begin tomorrow evening and I am unable to assist myself from lacking my crewmembers, though they’re nonetheless proper subsequent to me. It’s with nice effort that I am attempting to concentrate on the final duties and analysis initiatives that I have to attend to earlier than we’ll be leaving the simulated martian station tomorrow.
We began the mission with an inside joke that we’re spending 90% of our time collectively laughing and I am unable to say that that was an exaggeration. The crew was capable of finding enjoyable moments and a optimistic aspect to most issues, underneath all circumstances. Each exercise that we did, whether or not it was performing a analysis mission or one thing mundane like cleansing the habitat, we all the time ended up having a great time. I hope that their laughter will proceed to echo all through the HI-SEAS habitat, even lengthy after they will be gone.
My crew’s cheerfulness and infinite jokes ended up being very important for me, as I needed to face a number of troublesome private challenges unrelated to our mission. Irrespective of how unhappy I felt, all I wanted was to spend a couple of minutes with my martian household and I discovered my optimism once more. I’m very grateful to them for this ethical help that they might not even concentrate on having given me. Future house missions will actually rely upon how nicely the crews will get alongside and have the ability to help each other.
Valentine’s Day on analog Mars was an incredible instance of how the Valoria 2 crew was in a position to work collectively to create a really welcoming and caring environment in our habitat. To begin, we requested assist from our Mission Help volunteers. At HI-SEAS, we’re very grateful to have a variety of volunteers all world wide that assist the crew whereas they’re on mission. Mission Help members act primarily because the crew’s “Google” search engine, because the crew has a really restricted entry to the web.
My crewmembers’ request that day was for Mission Help to ship us the “love language” check. As soon as we took the check, we may higher perceive how we specific our friendship and our wants in the direction of each other. Taking the check collectively was additionally very insightful for every crewmember, since most of us have been at the very least partially shocked by the outcomes of the check. I used to be additionally more than happy with how comfy all of us are sharing such data between all members of the crew.
The massive feast, by simulated martian requirements, was an ideal reflection of our particular person love languages. Some crewmembers cooked a scrumptious meal and baked cupcakes and garlic knots (a crew favourite began by the Sensoria M3 crew). Others hung out embellishing the habitat with origami hearts and different authentic decorations. The crewmembers that have been much less artful and never as expert within the culinary arts contributed by cleansing up after the celebration. We additionally had a really nice and deep dialog about very private matters, which introduced us even nearer collectively.
Earlier than we wrapped every little thing up this night, we had one final session with Science Communications Officer Lain Velasco. Her examine on proprioception and physique consciousness has been shocking in some ways. The crew superior faster than anticipated and so they familiarized themselves with being the wrong way up in solely two weeks. In addition they reported feeling extra assured and in management when doing workout routines they deemed inconceivable at first of the mission.
Lain not solely bought the info she wanted, however she is genuinely pleased with how hardworking the Valoria 2 crew has been. She feels humbled the crewmembers trusted her sufficient to maintain them protected all through the mission. Publish-mission, Lain is wanting ahead to checking in with the crew as they proceed their coaching applications independently.
Operations Officer Rilee Kaliher was very pleased to finish her in situ analysis utilization analysis mission throughout our mission. She performed a number of exams on quite a lot of lava rock samples, which included learning their textures, hardness, load energy and different geological traits. Rilee performed among the exams with devices that she constructed at HI-SEAS and so they labored to her satisfaction. She is now wanting into making use of her new data to future analysis initiatives associated to Mars.
The mission that bought the entire crew speaking and competing day-after-day was Crew Engineer Chris Jackson testing the Amazon Halo gear on us. Chris noticed that seemingly inaccurate readings of the gadgets have the potential to discourage all the crew from reviewing information from their very own gadgets regularly. Nevertheless, underneath sure circumstances, the system’s readings can help wholesome competitions between crewmembers. Whereas turning into extra conscious of their tone of voice, sleep patterns and bodily exercise, the crew had not drastically modified their habits primarily based on the system’s readings. Total, Chris reported that though the crew favored studying extra about themselves, they have been additionally comfy being themselves.
Plant Biology Officer Paul Tomko devoted a lot of the mission to his meals associated initiatives and an unplanned documentary that the crew ended up creating. Paul was in a position to present the crew with two harvests of lettuce and mixed sprouts, together with one legume combine harvest to spice up the crew’s dietary wants. The Valoria 2 mission documentary initially began as a spoof of some points of dwelling at HI-SEAS throughout analog missions (the so-called “Horror-seas” Easter egg video I discussed in my third report for this mission). Though the film ended up being relatively darkish, its content material is supposed to assist future crews learn to handle surviving at HI-SEAS higher.
As for me, I used to be pleased that I used to be capable of finding a while to work on my collaborative mission with NASA Goddard that focuses on understanding how life survives in lava caves on Earth. That is significantly related nowadays with the hope of discovering biosignatures on Mars (indicators of previous or current life on Mars) with a variety of upcoming martian missions. The entire crew is wanting ahead to listening to information in regards to the Mars 2020 mission, whose Perseverance rover and helicopter Ingenuity are supposed to land on Mars tomorrow.
Tomorrow can be going to be the day that I am going to even be launching a contest for highschool college students known as Mission to Mars in Slovakia, in collaboration with the corporate Slovenske Elektrarne. I’ll carry out the experiment of the profitable group throughout an analog house mission at HI-SEAS later this yr. I am actually wanting ahead to what thrilling and new house related experiments college students will provide you with.
Commander Musilova signing off feeling unhappy and hopeful on the similar time. I’ll miss the Valoria 2 crew very a lot, however I am sure that we’ll communicate and meet once more someplace on Earth within the close to future. Till then, I’ve a lunar Selene III mission to look ahead to in a number of days’ time.
Comply with Michaela Musilova on Twitter @astro_Michaela. Comply with us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Fb.