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. At present, she is answerable for 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 6 (Feb. 9, 2021)
Being caught in my methods — that is not one thing I believed I might be responsible of anytime quickly. I believed I used to be a fairly adaptable and versatile sort of individual, however it’s beginning to daybreak on me that main mission after mission has left a mark on me. The Valoria 2 analog Mars mission at HI-SEAS is across the 27th mission that I’ve led as a commander. Actually, at this level, all my earlier missions are beginning to change into a blur. I keep up a correspondence with my ex-crewmembers, however the mission particulars all merge into one lengthy story. However, what I am now beginning to see are patterns in my habits and my management.
Throughout a typical lunar or martian mission at HI-SEAS, I spend the primary few days coaching my new crewmembers. I attempt to use solely an empowerment management fashion, permitting my crewmembers to embrace being analog astronauts with out micromanagement. So long as the crew respects a number of essential guidelines throughout our mission, I nearly by no means have to implement any form of authority on the crew. As an alternative, we often get alongside very nicely and everybody respects the rules that I put in place for each mission.
It is common for the crew to make errors throughout the first three days or so of the mission. There’s a lot to study residing and dealing on the moon or Mars, so I’ve plenty of endurance with them. Certainly one of my most important guidelines is for them to ask me as many questions as they want. I might quite they double-check sure issues with me than to do one thing incorrectly. With each mission, I’ve developed checklists that I am going by when coaching the crew. Solely when they’re nicely versed in working and surviving on the moon or Mars, then I might concentrate on my analysis and solely examine in with them when mandatory.
This gave the impression to be one of the simplest ways to do issues — till just lately. A brand new realization hit me: altering issues up wouldn’t solely profit me to escape from my “Groundhog Day” cycle, but additionally the crew. I am not an enormous fan of repeating actions over and over, so sticking to a sure routine to assist the brand new crew break into the HI-SEAS habitat has drained plenty of pleasure out of me. I strive my finest to not lose enthusiasm when coaching the crewmembers, as I really like instructing and sharing my otherworldly experiences with others. Nevertheless, this takes a toll on my vitality ranges.
Then, one thing modified that utterly opened my eyes to a brand new world of potentialities. My routine had been damaged. We needed to undergo by various dust storms on Mars (aka rainstorms on the Large Island of Hawaii) throughout my earlier Valoria 1 mission a few weeks in the past. I couldn’t prepare the crew in the identical method and in the identical order of actions as I usually would. Out of the blue, I used to be pressured to assume out of the field and improvise. Summary drawback fixing and improvisation are important within the area sector, so this was a welcome change for me.
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It was like a very new world of potentialities opened up for me. I modified the way in which during which I did our-in-the-field geology coaching throughout the Valoria 2’s first Marswalks, limiting them to the environment of the habitat due to unhealthy climate. The earlier Valoria 1 crew even hid the well-known HI-SEAS “Easter egg” of crew treasures in a special location than it had been hidden in over the previous three years. My analog area missions did not need to be as repetitive as I believed that they have been doomed to be. I discovered a brand new hope and vitality in me to energy by the three lunar missions that await me after Valoria 2.
Now, the Valoria 2 crew is setting extra precedents. A few of them are usually not so nice, like the truth that they have been the primary crew to set off our habitat’s fireplace alarm. That was throughout their try at making pancakes initially of the mission, so no hurt was achieved, however many classes have been discovered. The crewmembers then determined to attempt to change into the crew of many firsts, so this pattern continued. They’ve since made the primary butter and first very fluffy scrambled eggs on Mars. I’m wanting ahead to what they may give you subsequent.
As a crew, now we have undoubtedly now change into an area household, and day-after-day I spend with them is a pleasure. Every one in all them is progressing rapidly with their particular person analysis initiatives as nicely. Operations Officer Rilee Kaliher has collected ten samples of volcanic rocks near HI-SEAS, together with cinder, pahoehoe and ‘a’a, for her in-situ useful resource utilization analysis. Related sorts of rocks are prone to be present in some elements of the moon and Mars. Rilee started characterizing and analyzing the samples to be able to decide their potential use as constructing blocks for the primary sustainable human settlements on Mars.
Plant Biology Officer Paul Tomko has efficiently sprouted his first batch of natural broccoli, crimson clover and radish sprouts for the crew, whereas he continues to work on his batch of legume sprouts. Paul is experimenting with varied progress and harvesting strategies to maximise produce yield and provides a lift of diet to the crew, which incorporates utilizing the LettuceGrow system to develop new lettuce seedlings.
Science Communications Officer Lain Velasco’s hand-balancing coaching program is progressing with nice outcomes. The crew has solely been engaged on their program for just a few days they usually have already began to develop greater physique consciousness in inverted positions.
They’re additionally reporting a lower in vertigo, confusion and fearfulness when being the other way up. Their suggestions is usually constructive they usually appear to be feeling motivated to proceed their coaching even post-mission.
Lastly, Crew Engineer Chris Jackson has found that the crew actually enjoys monitoring and understanding their exercise, sleep and tone utilizing the Amazon Halo health tracker. His observations are that the crew attempt to all the time put on their particular person gadgets quite than resent them. Chris stories that the crew is willingly sharing updates from the system when the crew congregates.
Commander Musilova signing off feeling each refreshed and motivated. The Valoria 2 crew has introduced a breath of contemporary air into my life on Mars and I can not look forward to what new “firsts” they’ve but to deliver to HI-SEAS.
Observe Michaela Musilova on Twitter @astro_Michaela. Observe us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Fb.