Splash Down + 11 Days
Today started out with Dave and Nicole continuing the construction of WaterLab with me working as their IV. The IV is the crewmember who choreographs the extravehicular activity (EVA). It was an exciting time backing up Dave and Nicole on their construction, while simultaneously controlling the dive, setting up the ROV to be controlled from Houston, monitoring ROV operation, while Ross and Jim worked through communication problems. Dave and Nicole did a great job on the construction and we incorporated the ROV into the construction tasks. Mission Control used the ROV to provide appropriate camera views and retrieve and handoff tools and construction parts. It was a very successful excursion. Dave and Nicole's families in Houston were able to go to Mission Control and view the dive.
At one point Nicole and Chris' 3 year old son Roman (Roman is also Carmel and my Godson) came on the loops and said, "Mommy do you see any sharks down there - OVER". I thought the "Over" part was especially cute.
Later in the day Tim and I went out and conducted an evaluation of the CobraTac navigation system. With our SuperLite helmets on Tim and I evaluated the effectiveness of using the CobraTac navigation system to accomplish a detailed grid search. The system worked well. While I was walking on the bottom and concentrating on the navigation system, Tim informed me that there was a rather large Atlantic Stingray buried in the sand about three steps ahead.
I could tell by the look in the two eyes that were popping out of the sand the Ray was thinking, "go ahead take another step and make my day" One of the big lessons that we learned was that real time electronic tracking (via the LinkQuest diver tracking system) significantly increased the effectiveness of a grid search and ensured that we covered the intended search area. Before we left Houston I initiated the development of a Surface Exploration Lessons Learned database. We have been able to enter the key points that we have learned directly into the data base during this mission. It is very important to be able to capture and document what we're learning so the architects of our Nation's Vision for Space Exploration can use the data when developing lunar exploration missions.
I continue to notice more and more of the undersea world that we have become residents of. The behavior of the sea life is very fascinating. This morning I was looking out the main view port at a school of about 100 Blue Chromis and they appeared to be moving in unison. It did not appear as a leader moved and the rest followed. It appeared that they all moved simultaneously in unison. Later a nurse shark was patrolling around our main view port. It's also fascinating to watch hunting parties of large Permit form up and begin patrol.