Splash Down + 15 Days
Today was our last full day of science. The day started out with all of us conducting live radio and television interviews. The interviews were consecutive 10 minute segments with WLW Radio (Cincinnati), CTV Morning Show (Toronto), CH 13 Fox TV (Tampa), CH 26 Fox TV (Houston), and CH 19 Fox TV (Cincinnati). There really seemed to be a lot of interest in the mission. Immediately after the interviews Dave and hustled into our sea walk gear and conducted a two hour evaluation of our CobraTac navigation system while Nicole and Tim supported the evaluation from inside the habitat.
After the excursion Dave and I had just enough time to come inside get something quick to eat before all four of us went back outside on another two hour scuba dive. We finished the construction of Waterlab and hoisted a Pirate flag on top of the 25' structure to recognize this significant accomplishment. Then Tim and Nicole, conducted an evaluation of a search mission and diver tracking system directed by Mission Control in Houston while Dave and I finished securing waterlab and photo documenting the condition of Aquarius.
Immediately after the excursion we conducted another round of consecutive live media interviews. The afternoon interviews were with: CH 3 ABC (Wilmington NC), Associated Press TV (Washington DC), ARD/NDR German Television, and Greener Magazine (Internet). We also conducted a videoconference to discuss the highlights of our science activities with the US Army's Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center. After the videoconference I took the opportunity to go outside on a system called Hookah. Hookah uses a light weight umbilical to connect to the habitat's air supply. After almost a month of wearing heavy cumbersome gear it was very liberating to go outside exploring with what felt like nothing more than a small scuba mask. I left the habitat solo just before dark and simply swam around and under the habitat and visited our neighbors.
I had time while I was out there to reflect on the mission in silence as the undersea world grew dark. This was the first time since arriving at Aquarius that I was able to go outside by myself, without the constant crackle of our communication gear and "pinging" of our diver tracking system. It was a very peaceful and rewarding experience. There is a tremendous diversity of sea life that resides near Aquarius. The fish are so used to us being here that they come right up to us. Some are very curious. After my dive we finished our paperwork and chores and called it a night. This has been a very full and rewarding day.