Mike Barratt, NEEMO-7 Mission Specialist records dive
data while aboard the Aquarius Underwater Laboratory.|
7, Topside Team
Day 3, Wednesday, October 13, 2004
going full bore now in our mission, both in Aquarius and topside.
While NEEMO all along has been modelled to be an ISS analog, we
were challenged recently by Bill Readdy (Associate Administrator
of Space Operations at NASA) to design ways to make this an exploration
analog, given NASA's new Vision for Exploration. So one of the "side"
activities going on today focused on exercising different possibilities
as an exploration analog.
For NASA, exploration
is focused on getting us back to the Moon and on to Mars. We have
been trying to educate ourselves on what would really be entailed
upon taking up residence on a new planet. It probably will be very
much like living on the sea floor: physical isolation from the rest
of humanity, good virtual connection back to home (telephone, videoconferencing,
etc.), limited diet, and absolute reliance on the life support systems
you brought with you. Fortunately, the Advanced Ops Cadre at JSC,
who have supported every NEEMO mission since NEEMO 2 are helping
again. They are tasked to assess advanced ops capabilities which
will enable us to fulfill this vision, and they double as our "Mission
Control" during NEEMO missions.
Today Bob and
Cady dove in U.S. Navy EX-14 hard hat dive suits. These make a great
analog to space suits because the mobility inside is more limited
than normal scuba gear, the hat is roomy with good visibility, and
due to buoyancy effects, the crewmember feels like gravity has been
reduced. We can make the apparent gravity like that on the Moon,
Mars, or even zero! This has been a huge addition to our capabilities
on NEEMO missions, and we are very grateful to the Navy for its
support. While Bob and Cady were diving the EX-14s, the Topside
Team were there videotaping and photographing as they went through
the paces of different representative activities one might do upon
arriving at an alien planet. Tomorrow and Saturday we'll add a Remotely
Operated Vehicle and a surface rover to the mix - but more on that
Today the last
of our aquanauts completed the first round of the "CSA Robo"
experiment. CSA Robo is an experiment to assess the degradation
in robotic operator skills and how those skills recover with practice.
As you know, without frequent practice, complex skills such as those
necessary to operate Canadarm2 (the ISS robotic arm) will slowly
degrade over time. Using robotic hand-controllers identical to those
on the ISS and software running on a laptop that simulates the ISS
Canadarm2, this experiment assesses robotic operator skill degradation
and recovery dynamics in a space analog environment. Information
gained from this experiment will one day help robotics trainers
determine the frequency and type of in-flight training necessary
to keep astronauts performing at their peak. During the second session
of this experiment, which will run near the end of the mission,
much of the simulation software will be running on a computer based
in Canada at CSA. This scenario mimics ISS crewmembers training
on with a simulator that is ground-based. Determining whether such
time delays are reasonable in training is a major part of this experiment.