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NEEMO 9 Mission Journal

Mission Day 10
Wednesday, April 12, 2006

JSC2006-E-14905 - Ron Garan using a handheld sonic acoustic mapping instrument. Image above: Ron Garan moves along the sea floor using a handheld sonic acoustic mapping instrument. Credit: NASA

Dave Williams:

This morning Nicole and I worked on troubleshooting the data download from our navigation device before breakfast. We had some problems with the serial port connection and stopped for a quick bowl of oatmeal before the daily planning conference.

Ron and I got suited for a dive to the north and south of the Kamper line to map the area where the reef transitions into a sandy area to the east of the habitat. While we were outside collecting exploration data, Nicole and Tim were inside collecting medical data recording their brain waves again for the CMAS experiment.

After we returned from the dive Nicole and I continued troubleshooting the download issue with the navigation device. After playing around with a number of different connections, we were finally able to get it to work and we sent the data to a very excited team at the ExPOC.

Jim and I then started to work on troubleshooting the diver tracking system that enables our topside and Houston team to track the position of our divers when they are out on a dive. We were able to get it working pretty quickly on our computer in the habitat but we had some challenges sending it to our topside team. Dom joined us on the phone to solve the final video connections to send the image of the computer screen to Houston. Once we got it going it worked really well and gave us great information on the position of Nicole and Tim when they went out for their afternoon dive to continue documenting the area around Aquarius.

After our daily planning conference we had a video-teleconference with our families and the ExPOC team for a mid-mission celebration. It was great to see everyone again and it looked like the kids were having a great time getting a tour of our Houston Mission Control. Terry, our crew secretary, did a fantastic job ordering all of the food and a large crew cake in the shape of our NEEMO 9 patch! Earlier in the day we had a similar party for our topside team in Florida and Tammy at CMAS once again made it all happen. After the party, we settled down to watch “Life Aquatic” wearing our blue Neemo 9 fleece tops and red watch caps. We all looked like we were part of team “Z”! We finished the movie, a little after our 10 p.m. bedtime, and climbed into our bunks tired from a long and busy day.

Tomorrow brings another attempt at building Waterlab, a large structure made out of PVC tubing that resembles a lunar telecommunications station. Ron and I will be given weights to resemble lunar gravity and we will once again study the effects of different centers of gravity on our ability to perform the task. It should be fun!

Ron Garan:

Today was another day in the water. Dave and I spent the morning electronically mapping our simulated landing area. While we were on the excursion Mission Control in Houston and our crewmembers in Aquarius tracked our location and progress via our diver tracking system.

We spent a good portion of the day operating the rover and observing Mission Control operating the rover.

Today was also the day that we celebrated the halfway point in the mission. We initiated small celebrations for the topside team in Key Largo and Mission Control in Houston. The celebration in Houston was attended by the families and it was great to see them during the videoconference. Today was also the 25th anniversary of STS-1, the first space shuttle mission. In honor of this historic event the entire crew wore STS-1 anniversary T-shirts during our evening activities.

We had some computer problems that postponed some of our scheduled evening in-habitat science. We used the unexpected free time to get all our end of the day daily tasks accomplished early and take in our first movie of the mission. After dinner we piled in around the galley table and watched "The Life Aquatic." It was a funny sight to see the six of us sitting in 50 feet of water with the spectacular sea life all around us watching this movie with all of us wearing our red Team Zissou hats. I'm sure those who tuned into the main lock webcam were treated to a strange sight.

Nicole Stott:

It was pretty exciting to me to be here living and working on Aquarius on the 25th anniversary of STS-1. Makes me think about how far we've come with the space program, and how much we have to look forward to with the future exploration plans -- and it's pretty cool to be participating in a NEEMO mission that is focused on exploration.

There was a lot of diving today. Ron and Dave had a dive in the morning. And Tim and I had a two-hour plus dive in the afternoon using both the navigation system and the dive tracker. Today we used the navigation system to track to pre-programmed way points and also to take some more marks at designated landmarks. The dive tracker was being used by both our crewmembers inside Aquarius and ExPOC in Houston to track where we were during the dive.

We also had more CMAS1 activity with the EEG net and latency tasks. We're all looking forward to finding out what our brain waves tell the scientists about latency effects on our performance of the tasks.

We arranged to have a little post evening DPC celebration back at ExPOC to thank our families and everyone on the team for their support. Today we passed the halfway point of our mission. There was a really nice cake with our NEEMO 9 patch iced on it. (Big thanks to Terry for working all of this for us!!) We had the video-conferencing system set up so we were able to talk and see everyone too -- seeing our families is always a nice treat!

During dinner we decided to watch a movie. So ... we donned our red caps, sat down at the table with our burgers and mashed potatoes, and commenced watching "The Life Aquatic." We thought it was an appropriate selection -- and there were definitely scenes I found funnier now than before my NEEMO experience.

Tim Broderick:

Woke up and immediately started to reconfigure bunkroom for the second to last day of brainwave recording during CMAS1. All proceeded smoothly for my data acquisition. Nicole's new net went on with no problem and only minor baseline artifacts.

We were proceeding with data acquisition when we "splashed" our first piece of electronic equipment during this mission. A few milliliters of the electrolyte solution we were using in the sensor net fell onto the upper left part of the Apple computer. We quickly dabbed it off with a towel, but about 5 minutes later we had a com error in the Ethernet port. The remainder of the computer worked great. We took apart the computer to troubleshoot. No significant moisture, but we dried it with our ear drier anyway. (Some crewmembers use an air ear drier after each dive in addition to the ear drops.) We tried to use some accessory ports, but we were unsuccessful in re-establishing communication between the computers. Ron and Dave will have a little time to work on other pending business as CMAS1 activities for today and tomorrow will have to slip later in the mission.

Ron and Dave had a nice mapping dive using the navigation device this morning. Based on the data we downloaded and sent to mission control after that dive, ExPOC planned and sent a dive for us to upload into the terrain mapper. We briefed the dive with topside and ExPOC in the early afternoon. Although the visibility was poor and the current intermittently picked up, Nicole and I were successfully guided by the portable navigator through the electronic way points. I also wore a diver tracking system. Aquarius, NURC watch desk and ExPOC were able to remotely track our location. The sonar pings from the tracking system came over the com system and provided us with a "ping" every few seconds that sounded like the soundtrack from a bad submarine movie.

One of the highlights for the team was the halfway party. It is a space station expedition tradition to have a party at the halfway point of the mission. The NEEMO 9 crew arranged for food and a NEEMO cake to be delivered at both NURC base in Key Largo and ExPOC in Houston. This is the longest NEEMO mission to date, and the halfway party let us say thanks as well as offer some support to the people who are making this mission possible. This is the first NEEMO mission that arranged such a party and it was a big hit. The crew really liked celebrating with our families at ExPOC. Our laughter suggested the party lifted crew spirits. We suggest that future crews repeat the halfway party in long-duration NEEMO missions in the future.

We potted up our dirty clothes today and had a second set that we had packed before the mission potted down. It was not a big delivery because just like camping, we wear our clothes many days. Unpacking did not take a long time. Into the evening, we completed the required Cobra-Tac download, photo management, and journal entries.

Because of the timeline "white space" created by slip of CMAS1-- NASA-ese for free time-- we had time to recognize the anniversary of STS-1 with a crew picture wearing STS-1 shirts that were potted down today. As the first shuttle mission, STS-1 was a historic flight.

We ended the night with late night cinema. We pieced together enough equipment from our science payloads to provide a nice video image. We need to work on the sound system before decompression as we had a hard time hearing "The Life Aquatic." Funny picture of us sitting around the table leaning forward to hear the movie sound while wearing our red Team Z hats ….

 NEEMO 9 Mission Journal Number 15
"The barracuda seemed particularly impressed with this new structure and hovered around the truss element facing into the current! "
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 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 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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