Splash Down + 5 Days
Today is Carmel's birthday so the first thing I did when I awoke this morning was to hang a "Happy Birthday" sign on the wall immediately in front of the camera that broadcasts to the internet. I wish I could be there to celebrate Carmel's birthday with her. The best I could do was pre-position presents and cards, send flowers via the internet and speak to her on the phone. Whenever we call home we have in effect a one way video conference because whomever we're talking to can simply log into the Aquarius website and see us on the live internet feed.
Today was also the day that Ronnie and Joseph had their 15th birthday party (their birthday is not until the 10th but they had their party today). Carmel orchestrated a paintball party for 9 teenagers by herself. The success of missions like NEEMO 9 are due in large part to the support that the entire team gets from the home front. We are not the only ones who are away from loved ones. Most of the topside team is also away from home.
The highlight of our day here on Aquarius was definitely the "sea walk" that Dave and I performed to evaluate the effect that the location of space suit center of gravity has on our ability to perform tasks. We weighed ourselves out to an equivalent lunar gravity environment and descended to the sea floor wearing our Superlite dive helmets. We did tasks such as timed walks, runs, jog, picking up rocks, kneel and recover and fall and recover. I think this experiment will provide very important data to lunar space suit designers. During one of my timed jogs, as I lifted my leg up to take a step a Stingray with about a 4 foot wing span flew under my foot. I'm sure Houston had a spectacular picture from my helmet camera of that guy.