NEEMO 7 diver encounters a fish outside of the Aquarius habitat.
7, Robert Thirsk
Day 8, Monday, October 18, 2004
NEEMO 7 mission experienced one more hardware malfunction. Today one of the hand
controllers for the Robo experiment misbehaved.
Robo hardware performed well a few days ago when we performed the experiment early
in the NEEMO 7 mission. Today James Talacek and Billy Cooksey were scheduled to
perform their second session of Robo. This is the Canadian Space Agency (CSA)
experiment designed to measure degradation of robotic control skills (i.e., hand-eye
coordination) in astronauts and other robotic operators.
beginning the actual experiment, the two hand controllers for the Robo experiment
had to be calibrated. In other words, the experiment computer needed to understand
what the 'zero' position was for each of the hand controllers. When Mike Barratt
performed the calibration early this morning, he noted that the controller for
the right hand calibrated nominally but the one for the left did not. Specifically,
a downward deflection of the left hand controller was not recognized by the computer.
are some hardware failures that a crew can attempt to fix, but others that we
can't. After discussing this issue with the Topside Support Team, it was decided
to "pot" up the Robo hardware to the surface this afternoon and have the support
team attempt to repair or replace the mischievous hand controller.
was fun to watch James and Billy complete their first Robo session aboard Aquarius
several days ago. Neither of them have extensive experience operating robots but
they participated in the experiment with enthusiasm. The basic task of the person
performing the Robo experiment is to grapple a virtual free-floating satellite
with the Canadarm2. That shouldn't be too difficult a task except that this virtual
satellite is slowly tumbling. The tumble makes the task challenging.
and Billy crashed the Canadarm2 into the satellite on several occasions during
their initial trials and we had a good laugh. Toward the end of their Robo sessions,
however, they were becoming proficient. They are both quick learners (and I discovered
from their banter, hooting and hollering that they are also quite competitive
with each other in a good-hearted way).
robotic operating skills of James, Billy and my other aquanaut colleagues as measured
several days ago is not important. What is important is the comparison of our
skill levels as measured during this mission to our skill level to be re-measured
several weeks from now. The CSA wishes to know over what time period a person's
skills will deteriorate. The results of this experiment will help the CSA decide
when an astronaut aboard the International Space Station will need onboard refresher
training and how this training should be provided.
the Robo hardware failure was a bit of a setback. But we will bounce back. My
friend, Marc Garneau, once told me that hardware problems and human errors during
spaceflight are inevitable. The fact that they occur is not as important as our
reaction to them. I have faith in the resolve of my CSA colleagues to find a way
to repair or replace the faulty Robo hand controller. I would love to see the
Robo team collect all of their data, and I know that James and Billy are chomping
at the bit to grapple the satellite one more time.