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NEEMO 9 Mission Journal

Mission Day 5
Friday, April 7, 2006

JSC2006-E-13580 -- Nicole Stott and Tim Broderick perform survey and mapping activities. Image to right: Nicole Stott and Tim Broderick perform survey and mapping activities, during a session of extravehicular activity. Credit: NASA

Dave Williams:

Six in the morning can certainly come pretty early! This morning we tried to download data from our navigation system and were unsuccessful due to a communications error with our computer. We grabbed a quick bite before starting our daily planning conference and were pretty excited to talk to the ExPOC about our dive to map the area around the habitat with the navigation system.

While Nicole and Tim got ready for the CMAS experiment to record brain waves, Ron and I got suited on the wet porch for our dive. We both entered the water with a lot of extra equipment – Ron had the underwater camera and a tape measure to measure our distance from the habitat and I had the navigation system, a clipboard and some markers to put on the excursion line every 25 meters.

After checking in with the ExPOC we swam away from the habitat on the Kamper excursion line, mapping and marking as we went. A dive team from Discovery Channel Canada swam beside us taking pictures of our activities and our juggling technique with all of the things we were carrying. We finished our 100-minute dive by mapping the Ridge excursion line and returning to the habitat. The visibility was limited to around 15 feet or so but there was no current which helped us with our activities. We picked up an escort of a couple of fish who seemed pretty curious about what was going on!

After we returned to the habitat we jumped into troubleshooting computer issues. Tim and Nicole had been having a number of challenges getting the computers to work properly for the CMAS experiment. Despite our best efforts, we continued to have problems throughout the day and we are looking forward to help from Trevor, our topside expert from CMAS.

Around lunchtime we had a house call from Damon, our Navy diving “doc” who came for a routine visit to see how we were doing. Everyone is doing really well and we had a great chance to visit before he had to leave for the surface. Tim and Nicole did a great job troubleshooting a computer issue with the ExPOC control of the ROV while Ron and I swapped spots with them and tried to resolve the computer challenges we were having with the CMAS experiment. We have two onboard computers, one of which decided to act up today!

The daily planning conference lasted an hour and a half discussing all of the technical issues we were trying to resolve as well as the plan for tomorrow’s dive. Mike Gernhardt, one of my crewmates from NEEMO 1, will be diving to the habitat tomorrow afternoon to help us with an assessment of how the center of gravity of our equipment affects our gait and balance with simulated lunar gravity. Mike has adjusted the weights that will be added to our suit to mimic the 1/6 gravity on the moon. Ron and I are both looking forward to the dive – footsteps on the ocean floor heading towards that path back to the moon.

Ron Garan:

Today was a day of computer challenges. We spent a good portion of the day overcoming several computer malfunctions that affected some of our science experiments, the operation of our remotely controlled vehicles and our interface with our in-water electronic mapping and tracking equipment. We were able to work through most of the problems and we came up with a plan that will hopefully solve these issues.

The highlight of the day was definitely the dive that Dave and I performed. Our objective during the dive was to map an area out to 100 meters from the habitat. We used a navigation system which measures location, heading, depth, and altitude, stores waypoints in memory and produces detailed maps. We also marked off 25 meter increments on one of our excursion lines. While we were doing all this work, a videographer was documenting the activity for the Discovery Channel Canada.

It was great to get back in the water. The sea life around the habitat is truly breathtaking. It’s amazing what you begin to notice after being here for awhile. You begin to learn where certain fish and other sea life live. It's also incredible to watch the sunset from 47 feet beneath the surface.

Tomorrow should be a very exciting day. The other highlight of the day was that I spontaneously figured out how to whistle. Because the environment that we are living in is approximately two and a half times the pressure of the surface, it takes awhile for your mouth to learn how to whistle. It's funny to try to whistle when you get here and nothing comes out but air. Today is the day I re-learned how to whistle. Tomorrow is shaping up to be another great day. We will evaluate different configurations for simulated lunar exploration suits and will spend alot of time outside.

Nicole Stott:

Had a great night’s sleep last night and found myself very comfortable in my bunk this morning when the 6 a.m. alarm went off. It's very cool and now strangely reassuring to wake up every morning and have our friends the groupers still looking in on us!

We got off to a quick start this morning. More CMAS1 activities throughout the day (this is the EEG and computer-based tasks that look at brain wave activity resulting from different latencies imposed on the operator). We also did a lot of troubleshooting on the ROV remote operations with our Houston mission control center.

Today was the first day I noticed (felt it in my ears) a constant change in the pressure inside the habitat. We had heard before that this might happen if the surface was rough. And Jim confirmed that today that is the case. Dave also showed me how you can look out one of the view ports and pick something in the water and watch it, you can see the path it takes with the surge from the waves. The fish tend to go with the flow too when they're just hanging out there. Pretty cool.

I'm going to be ready for the comfort of my bunk tonight. Looking forward to Ross sharing another bedtime story with us about his adventures tagging great white sharks!

Tim Broderick:

I sit typing at the galley table while I grab a bite to eat. There are lots of fish and a big spotted eagle ray gracefully gliding by on the current. I will also take advantage of my time as assistant helping collect CMAS 1 EEG data on Nicole to write a little in my journal. I just finished my time as EEG subject and despite a few software issues I was able to complete my entire session.

I am eating a lunch of freeze-dried, vacuum-packed Jamaican chicken with rice which is remarkably tasty with good consistency. The food has been surprisingly good.

Nicole and I have science throughout the day without a dive. Dave and Ron had a dive today to further map the Ridge and Kamper excursion lines and surrounding area with a terrain mapping device. Poor visibility, but they successfully completed their activities. They were filmed by Discovery Canada. We continue with more exciting exploration activity tomorrow. A hard-hat suit dive designed to evaluate the best center of gravity for future spacesuits— the NEEMO 9 version of a moonwalk.

We have had a little rougher seas today. Fishes floating in circles from the surge and waves. We feel the pressure change as each wave passes overhead… muffled, then louder.

On to remote rover operation by ExPOC. More to follow later today as time permits.

 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 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 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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