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FEATURE
NEEMO 9 Mission Journal

Mission Day 15
Monday, April 17, 2006


JSC2006-E-13566 - A NEEMO-9 crewmember participates in a session of extravehicular activity. Image to right: A NEEMO-9 crewmember in a session of extravehicular activity performs survey and mapping activities. Credit: NASA

Dave Williams:

The IV telemedicine science has been completed and the remainder of the mission will deal primarily with the exploration science on the dives. We still are completing some of the NSBRI behavioral science but the pace of the schedule has noticeably lightened.

This morning we discussed the two planned dives for the day at the morning planning conference. Nicole and Tim will start with a two-hour dive to find simulated lunar specimens that have been placed on the sandy sea floor to the east and southeast of Aquarius. Tim found two of the markers while taking his umbilical away from the habitat and once Nicole was in the water they proceeded to each site to mark the point with the navigation device. Nicole was wearing the diver tracking device and I recorded the range and bearing from the habitat for the ExPOC to compare with the navigation data. After collecting data on the position of the first two markers, they started a grid search using the navigation device as a reference for the grid pattern.

The biggest challenge they faced was managing the umbilicals that became snagged on small rocks on the bottom. This is an important observation suggesting that the use of umbilicals on lunar missions may be somewhat limited to the area around a lunar habitat or a lunar rover. They found two more markers before ending the dive at 10:45 a.m.

We had lunch and got ready for two educational outreach events hosted by the Distance Learning Center at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. The events started shortly after noon and lasted until 2 p.m.

As soon as the event finished, Ron and I started preparing for our afternoon dive to work with the ROV and finish construction of the Waterlab. We worked with Bill and Marc from our topside team to photograph the ROV bringing us tools to help us build the Waterlab. It saved us a lot of time having the ROV bring us what we needed instead of walking back to the stowage area to switch out tools. We finished constructing all of the Waterlab elements and installed the majority of the truss segment on the base before we had to clean up the worksite and return to the habitat. The barracuda seemed particularly impressed with this new structure and hovered around the truss element facing into the current!

We finished cleaning up from the dive and got ready for dinner, the daily planning conference (DPC) and one of the NSBRI behavioral experiments. At the DPC we added a test objective to our evening schedule to try flying and driving the ROV at night. By 8 p.m. we had the ROV in the water with Ron and Tim taking turns piloting. The lights on the front provided pretty good illumination and we were able to see Waterlab appear in front of the ROV as it drove around the sea floor. I made the equivalent of an “eye” chart to test the vision of the ROV camera with the lights at their maximum setting. Jim held the chart in front of the ROV at increments of a meter and by the time he was three meters away we started having difficulty reading the smaller numbers. By the time he was five meters away we could no longer read any of the numbers. With a successful conclusion to the test, Tim flew the ROV back to the wet porch and we went back to sorting our daily photographs and finishing our journals.

Tomorrow we have a number of interviews first thing in the morning so tonight we need to get to bed early!!


Ron Garan:

After a wonderful Easter and a much needed day of rest we stepped right back into our fast pace. This morning Tim and Nicole conducted a sea walk to compare the effectiveness of a grid search using the ROV vs. a human search party. Dave supported their sea walk as their IV while I conducted three media interviews and two education outreach events.

I discussed the significance of our mission's science objectives and how they support the Vision for Space Exploration with a Houston newspaper, a radio station in Asheville, N.C., and an Internet news source in New York. During the education outreach event, I talked to students across the U.S. and Canada about our mission.

In the afternoon, Dave and I conducted a sea walk to finish construction of the Waterlab with some help from our ROV we affectionately named Scuttle. In the evening we participated in a creativity study, uploaded tomorrow's missions (sent to us from Mission Control) into our navigation system, and evaluated the ROV's ability to illuminate objects and operate at night.

Tomorrow is our last full day of science before we start gearing up for splash-up. I really feel that the mission is starting to draw to a close. I know that I am going to treasure this experience and will miss living and working in this beautiful undersea world.


Nicole Stott:

Woke up refreshed this morning, thankful for our leisurely paced Easter Sunday.

We were back at it this morning with Tim and me in the water on the dive helmets --this time using the navigation tool and the diver tracking tool to perform a grid search for some items that our topside team left placed around the habitat. I think we've discovered very quickly that the umbilicals for the dive helmets are a significant burden for any kind of cleanly mapped search track -- too many obstacles on the seafloor that result in the need for constant umbilical tending -- something I don't think we'll really want to be dealing with on the moon.

Later in the afternoon Dave and Ron went out to finish Waterlab. While they were out there working I got to fly the ROV out to assist them with tool management -- basically acting as a flying tool caddy for them. The ROV is really very maneuverable and I was able to safely fly in close proximity to them and to also fly back directly on to the wet porch. Tonight we also flew the ROV to evaluate the utility of the light on the rover for night operations.

This morning on the wet porch I had a really cool experience. I was standing in the water up to my waist on the wet porch grate helping prepare some equipment for our dive when I felt a slight movement in the water behind me while at the same time the many chubs and yellowtail snapper and schoolmasters around me moved slowly away -- I turned slowly knowing that something "bigger" must have moved in (hoping that it wasn't BOB the big ol' barracuda that hangs in the area). I was very pleasantly surprised to discover Stella and Lucy (the 2 VERY large goliath grouper) coming up next to me. I wanted so badly to reach down and pet them, but didn't want them to get spooked and move away. They rubbed up against my leg and stayed close for a few minutes and I was able to get a really close look at them --- they seemed to be keeping an eye on me too. I felt very privileged that they would share some time with me!


Tim Broderick:

A day filled with exploration diving, educational outreach, and another creativity test.

Nicole and I started in the water today with a helmeted dive targeted to locate as many lunar samples as possible around the habitat. We used a combination of the high-tech dive suits, terrain mapping and aquanaut tracking devices to thoroughly search the sand and reef in the 150-foot-radius circle centered about the wet porch of the habitat. One hundred and fifty feet represents the length of a dive-suit umbilical. We learned a valuable lesson about the difficulty of searching as a diver with umbilica in the midst of so much structure. We found four of 10 targets, and did not think that the terrain mapper added much value as we could search more effectively using natural landmarks. Heads-up search also helped us avoid tying our umbilical up in knots. Dave and Ron subsequently completed Waterlab as Nicole helped with the rover and I provided support from inside the habitat.

Educational outreach was fun as the elementary students today asked some new questions in the midst of a few old favorites. We have the opportunity to talk to more students tomorrow. Sadly, tomorrow we finish our educational outreach for this mission.

We just finished a creativity test. I am really interested in knowing what the picture drawing exercise tells the investigators about our crew. Whether the effect of a low level of nitrogen narcosis or habitation in a confined space for 15 days, the crew found the exercise quite humorous.

The final activity tonight is evaluation of the effectiveness of rover operations in a low light situation. In addition to use of the rover in exploration focused activity, I hope to see some of the cool nocturnal creatures we saw the other night.

Few more days of salt water under pressure....

  ISSUE ARCHIVES 
 
 NEEMO 9 Mission Journal Number 14
"Scuttle bunny was flying around the reef at quite a pace with test pilot Ron at the controls."
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 NEEMO 9 Mission Journal Number 13
"But what a sight after we turned off our lights. Bioluminescent creatures ... lit up the sea around us."
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 NEEMO 9 Mission Journal Number 12
"We're sitting at the galley table writing our journals and as usual we're distracted by the beauty out the galley view port."
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 NEEMO 9 Mission Journal Number 11
"As the sun began to set in the world above, I swam into the wet porch feeling very much a resident of the reef."
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 NEEMO 9 Mission Journal Number 10
"It was pretty exciting to me to be here living and working on Aquarius on the 25th anniversary of STS-1."
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 NEEMO 9 Mission Journal Number 9
"As I write this a large sea turtle just decided to park its belly on our main view port (where I'm presently sitting)."
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 NEEMO 9 Mission Journal Number 8
"This marks the first time in human history an entire robotic surgical platform was transported to an extreme environment ... and was manipulated successfully from afar."
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 NEEMO 9 Mission Journal Number 7
"There is nothing quite like the transition from a warm bed to a cold wetsuit to wake you up in the morning!"
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 NEEMO 9 Mission Journal Number 6
"The EEG net leaves a particularly attractive series of marks on the subject's head-- looks like we have been kissed by an octopus."
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 NEEMO 9 Mission Journal Number 5
"It's ... incredible to watch the sunset from 47 feet beneath the surface."
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 NEEMO 9 Mission Journal Number 4
"Today was a day filled with outreach events, both 'educational' (to school children) and 'public affairs' (to media)."
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 NEEMO 9 Mission Journal Number 3
"One of the highlights of the day was our videoconference with Jeff Williams and Bill McArthur on the International Space Station."
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 NEEMO 9 Mission Journal Number 2
"Today at 10:38 a.m. Ron Garan, Nicole Stott, and Tim Broderick joined an elite group of people in this world who have spent 24 hours under the sea in 'saturation,' making them the world's three newest aquanauts."
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 NEEMO 9 Mission Journal Number 1
"I'm looking forward to my first night of 'sleeping with the fishes.'"
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 NEEMO 9 Training Journal Number 6
"The mission as planned will be the most complex and longest NEEMO and Aquarius mission to date."
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 NEEMO 9 Training Journal Number 5
"It was an interesting experience talking to one another and looking out the windows into the ocean while standing on the bottom at 60 feet!!"
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 NEEMO 9 Training Journal Number 4
"Ross ... intentionally swam Nicole and I around in circles to try and get us lost. He did a pretty good job!"
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 NEEMO 9 Training Journal Number 3
"The pace is beginning to pick-up with more diving tasks being added every day."
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 NEEMO 9 Training Journal Number 2
"On our way out, we saw a pod of dolphins which started following the boat and leaping out of the waves."
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 NEEMO 9 Training Journal Number 1
"Today was our first day of training in our final week before the mission."
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