John Herrington, NEEMO-6 commander, types a journal entry
while in his living quarters in the Aquarius habitat off
the Florida Keys.|
note: Marc Reagan is the mission director for the NEEMO 6 mission.
This is the third in a series of daily reports documenting the undersea
activities of the NEEMO 6 crew and its Topside Team of supporters
in Key Largo, Florida.
how the crew knows what it is they are supposed to do when they
are in space, or in our case underwater? The short answer is that
we use timelines and procedures, but of course the devil is in the
details... For the Space Shuttle, there is a hardcopy of the timeline,
as well as volumes of procedure books. If/when changes are made,
we send up a new file electronically, and the crew prints a new
For the International
Space Station, it was easily apparent that we could never keep up
with the changes (that are happening daily) that way. We designed
custom tools to aid the crew in executing their tasks for the day.
By design, the Station crew can view their whole timeline and all
their procedures on the screen of a laptop. They still have a printer
if they need a hardcopy (of procedures, anyway), but the intent
is to be able to manage it all electronically. The timeline tool
is called OSTPV (Onboard Short Term Plan Viewer) and it allows the
crew (and ground team) to view not only a timeline of when the activities
are scheduled but also information regarding how to perform that
activity in the form of Execute and Ops Notes. The major downside
to this tool is that it requires a special - and often cranky -
computer and software to generate these timelines. From the timeline
you can link to the procedure if desired. Currently we use a special
tool to view procedures called MPV (Manual Procedure Viewer). This
tool allows the user to see and manipulate the procedure as it's
being executed. The downside to it is that it's INCREDIBLY slow
and frustrating to use - especially when the procedure contains
The next generation
of OSTPV will be web-based. A "beta" version of it is
being used for the first time operationally on this NEEMO mission.
Over the course of the mission we will have identified dozens of
features and limitations that need improvement before using it onboard
the Station for the first time. The next version of the procedure
viewer, called IPV (International Procedure Viewer) allows much
faster and easier viewing of procedures. We are using it as well
for the first time on NEEMO 6. For our crew these new tools provide
a number of advantages: they resemble the current ISS tools they're
already familiar with; they are the predecessors to the versions
they will be using on their own ISS missions, and they have the
first opportunity to provide inputs to how the tools end up. As
an added advantage, we can access both here in Key Largo, and our
Mission Control Team in Houston can access them as well - which
guarantees we're all on the same page, so to speak.
John Herrington (back to camera), NEEMO-6 commander, and Doug
Wheelock, discuss timeline of events in the underwater Aquarius
habitat off the Florida Keys|
A number of
people in the Operations Division at the Johnson Space Center have
worked very hard over the last few months working out problems in
these two tools so that we could use them for this mission. It was
at times questionable whether they would be ready on time, but thanks
to the hard work and dedication of a few people, it was possible.
It's certainly true that our mission benefits from this, but we're
proud to be helping mature these tools for use on the ISS as well.
One of the
more interesting and fun aspects of a mission is participating in
the Educational Outreach events. This mission features five separate
timelined events. They range from a conference of educators, to
webcasts that anyone can join, to targeted events at museums and
science centers across the nation. Today the crew participated in
the first of these. The first was a linkup with some Educators at
an AIAA conference in Ft. Lauderdale. The event went off swimmingly
(sorry!) and was recorded live. It's intended for use in science
classrooms throughout Broward county (the fifth-largest school district
in the nation). The second event was with an audience at our very
own Space Center Houston. If you're interested in following along
with future events, the NEEMO
6 webcast page shows you when and where.
crew journals are starting to roll in. (Forgive the short lag between
when the crew submits them and they get posted…) If you're
really interested in what life as an aquanaut entails, and the similarities
between it and space flight, you might find them interesting.
joining us. "Sea" you next time.
- NEEMO Topside