Fragile Oasis

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Splashdown-4

Another beautiful day in Key Largo.  We had our briefing today on the habitat systems and emergency operations.  Really a very cool facility.  Otter led us through a virtual tour of the facility and gave us a very thorough brief on the layout and system operation.  Most of the time the hab techs will be the ones managing any of the system-related operations, but in the unlikely event of an emergency (e.g., flooding, fire, contamination, loss of air from the life support buoy) we all need to know the appropriate actions to take.  This information was presented in a very straightforward way and was a very good step towards preparing us.  Early in the mission we will be performing an emergency drill that will further reinforce these procedures.

We had 2 dives today. First time using the full face mask with the integrated comm. Actually is a very comfortable mask to wear. We ran through some of the same skills we did with our regular mask -- like buddy breathing, mask clearing. The difference with this mask is that there is a "pod" on the front that has the regulator integrated into it, and if you want to share air you have to remove and share the whole pod. A little more cumbersome for buddy breathing, but works just fine. And once you do a little practice with it there's no problem getting it on and off. One of the benefits of this mask is the integrated comm that allows you to talk to each other while diving as well as to your control team that's topside or to other crew members on the habitat. It's really nice to have this capability (and it does parallel how we would work as crewmembers on an EVA or surface exploration in space), but it's kind of a shame to take away the peaceful setting you normally have on a dive. With the comm you get a continuous static in the system unless someone is talking. So... no more quiet dives. 

One of the other things we did on the dives today was familiarizing with the habitat again.  We swam around and identified the different excursion lines we'll be using, learned about refilling our tanks at the fill stations, stuck our heads up in the wet porch again, and most importantly visited the "gazebo" (aka our potty facility, which is also affectionately known as the poop palace). The fish around the gazebo paid us a warm welcome -- I'm sure just checking out who will be feeding them starting next week!

After the dives we had our introductory brief on the SL17 helmet rig we'll be training in the water with tomorrow. Most of our "EVAs" during the mission will be on the SL17. This is going to be very cool -- good clear comm, head dry inside the helmet, and walking around on the bottom.  That kind of diving will be a totally new experience for me.  Will be interesting to see how much it parallels working in the suit in the NBL. Looking forward to a different perspective on the undersea environment while walking around on the sea floor!