Splash Down + 8 Days
Well we're past the halfway point in the mission. Today we spent a lot of time outside. This morning Dave, Nicole, Tim and I proceeded South from the habitat. Our mission was to map and mark an area of our simulated lunar landing site and communicate with Mission Control in Houston each step of the way. Dave and Nicole took turns using the Cobra Tac device that electronically maps the area under us as we traversed from the habitat. Tim and I had tags, a camera, and a tap measure that we used to mark and photograph every 25 meters along our excursion line. We had a very efficient excursion and finished our objectives fast enough to call in a change in our plan so that we could continue mapping and tagging additional areas.
After the excursion we hustled out of gear and started converting our bunk room for science while simultaneously preparing for and conducting an outreach videoconference with medical students from McMaster University in Hamilton, ON. Again today we set up and operated the surgical robot and conducted more telerobotic surgery and lunar sample manipulations. Tim and Jim did a great job last night making some repairs on one of the robotic arms. Dave and I also went out on a second dive where we conducted more mapping and tagging of our simulated landing area. This time we used a diver tracking system that allows our crew members in the habitat and Mission Control to track our location. One of the questions we want to answer is how important is it for Mission Control to have real time electronic monitoring of astronauts exploring the lunar surface.
During the dive we saw some amazing sights. We saw three Spotted Eagle Rays with 6-7 foot wingspans "fly" in formation with a large sea turtle following behind. Spotted Eagle Rays are absolutely breathtaking creatures to watch glide by. It was also apparently a very sunny day today and I found myself frequently looking up at the sun through 80 feet of water. It's been 9 days since I've seen the Sun in the way I'm accustomed to.
Our evening after the dive was spent with more science. One of the experiments involved haptics (using the sense of feel to help guide robotic operations). In this experiment Dr Anvari in Canada actually guided us through surgical procedures as if he was moving our hands and surgical instruments in relation to our simulated patient.
As I write this a large Sea Turtle just decided to park its belly on our main view port (where I'm presently sitting). Right now it is very obvious that the sea state is getting very rough the pressure in the habitat is changing noticeable with each passing wave. I can actually see the depth gauge in the habitat rocking up and down and feel the habitat swaying side to side. We can definitely feel it in our ears as the pressure rises and falls. We are forecast to have 8 foot seas for most of the week. Also as I write this a very large Goliath Grouper just lumbered past the main view port. It probably weighs at least 200 lbs. There are two of these groupers that live under our bunk room and we see them almost every night from our bunk room view port. Nicole has named them Stella and Lucy after her dogs. Well, since I am having a hard time keeping my eyes open I'm going to call it a day.