Specialist Mike Barratt (left) works with other team members
on robotic device.|
7, Mike Barratt
Day 7, Sunday, October 17, 2004
a day of rest - of sorts. We had a few hours each of 'white space,'
unscheduled time today, but this was actually catch up time to get
paperwork, research results, and habitat resources in order. It
disappeared pretty quickly. We did enjoy a link up with the International
Space Station, speaking with Mike Fincke, a NEEMO veteran soon on
his way home from a six-month tour, and Leroy Chiao, his relief.
Mike is pretty much always smiling, and was floating and flipping
all over the place during the event, I think to savor the last few
days of weightlessness. Good to talk with our compadres. Another
high point was an opportunity for each of us to videoconference
with our families, seeing their faces and giving them in turn a
video tour of Aquarius. This is so much like the weekly videoconferences
between astronauts and their families, where the crewmembers get
to show the unique aspects of their current home; except here if
you flip upside down you fall on your head.
Can't wax too eloquently about the details of this day, except regarding how our
crew has shaped up. Everyone brings a unique outlook and set of skills to the
table. We watch out for one another and each in their own fashion navigates the
controlled chaos of the day in concert with the team. Picture a small orchestra
where each member is wearing a different Hawaiian shirt and probably reading something
else besides the music, but darned if those sticks don't go up and down at the
same time, and everyone finishes precisely together. This is particularly amusing
during the educational and press events we conduct, usually with two or three
of us seated calmly and neatly dressed (from the waist up) at the galley table.
The others are anything but calm, and if the camera were to pan out just a few
inches you would note people crawling by on their bellies to get from one end
of the main lock to the other, thrown items flying overhead, and little nods flashed
by the interviewees between questions to affirm the location of this item or the
download status of that camera. This is not a venue for the multitask-challenged.
The real fun came at day's end when we finally got to step outside for a night
dive. Again we watched the habitat lights fade from view as we headed out to the
deep northeast for a near-Zen experience. Many of the normal daytime fish were
hanging out motionless in sand crevasses between coral ridges, and an enormous
crab was out feeding on algae just under our excursion line. After an hour or
so out on the northeast section, we returned back to the habitat and spent another
40 minutes playing along the outside of our digs. We joined an incredible assortment
of climbing and swimming life, the squirrels and the birds of our backyard, and
our own Billy Cooksey out there on a hookah line with a bright light for some
night photography. Overhead hab lights throw shadows of fish onto the sandy bottom
like dark swimming ghosts, and every so often something enormous eclipses one
of the big lights. The Aquarius itself looks as if it could be on any remote planet;
a high-tech alien outpost with chicken noodle soup inside. It was wonderful to
come in and swap "did you see thatů.?" stories, and the rack sure feels great.