Mike Barratt types a journal entry at the galley table in the Aquarius Underwater
7, Mike Barratt
Day 1, Monday, October 11, 2004
home! And I can already tell 11 days is going to absolutely fly by. I am already
asking for an extension, but in the mean time we will savor every saturated moment.
Following initial splash down and picking up some communications equipment, we
did our first team dive to get further oriented to the site and procedures. Diving
is a bit more leisurely when you don't anticipate surfacing into a choppy topside,
and I would say we enjoyed the reef and its inhabitants much more today. One of
them enjoyed us as well; a cowfish fell in love with Commander Bob, swimming in
(very) close proximity and refusing to be separated. Good thing he couldn't follow
us beyond the wet porch!
inside time was taken up by habitat briefings and furious activity toward getting
our science payload and camera gear stowed and organized. The network enhancements
have paid off, and we should be able to deliver on the telemedicine experiment
package we have taken on for the Center for Minimal Access Surgery and the Canadian
Space Agency. So far, everything is working.
we are on the steep end of a learning curve in the fine art of living undersea
in saturation. We are fortunate in having two veteran habitat technicians supervising
the works: James Talacek and Billy Cooksie. These guys run the place in a thorough
and detailed manner, but are fun to work with and very supportive of our mission.
Whatever mission success we have will in large part be due to their attention
down here is very comfortable and unique, similar to what I imagine for a space
mission. It is small and cozy, food smells good, the excitement is contagious,
and the view out the window is striking. In this case, we're in the aquarium and
the 'owners of the reef' are amusing themselves with occasional glances toward
us. There is a constant sound of fish nipping at food items attached to the hull
and the periodic burping of air from the positive pressure purge out of the wet
porch. This actually sounds more like a mortar round than a burp, another thing
to get used to. Since our habitat pressure is equilibrated to the outside depth,
which changes real-time with wave action, there are periodic small pressure changes
with wave passages. These can be felt in the ears, especially in the afternoon
when the winds and waves are at a peak. Supposedly, we will become accustomed
to this soon.
then there is the pressure effect on our voices. Because the habitat atmosphere
is about two-and-a-half-times as dense as at sea level, the effect of pushing
all that air past our vocal cords turns us all into a flock of Donald Ducks. So,
for the next 11 days I will just have to be an alto. OK, how 'bout another round
of ‘Yellow Submarine’ before hitting the rack!