Dr. Michaela Musilova is the director of Hawaii House Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) program, which conducts analog missions to the moon and Mars for scientific analysis at a habitat on the volcano Mauna Loa. At the moment, she is accountable for the two-week Valoria 2 mission and contributed this report back to House.com’s Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.
Commander’s report for the Valoria 2 Mars mission at HI-SEAS
Sol 2 (Feb. 5, 2021)
My “family” has modified once more. I am nonetheless inside the HI-SEAS simulated Martian analysis station, however my earlier Valoria 1 crew has left they usually have been changed with the Valoria 2 crew. A crewmember from Valoria 1 rightly identified to me that me being the commander of mission after mission in the identical habitat is like having new roommates in your own home each few weeks. Not solely do I want to coach each new crewmember on how to survive on Mars, I have to get used to everybody’s good and dangerous habits.
Fortuitously for me, it has been pretty simple to show my new Martian households the methods of the right way to dwell on the “Purple Planet.” New crewmembers, on common, take about 5 days to develop into absolutely versed in our life assist methods, analysis initiatives, mission schedules and different important components of our every day life on Mars. What’s even higher is that the crew bonding normally begins from sol (Martian day) 1. As Science Communications Officer Lain Velasco wrote in her first mission report, we spent 90% of sol 1 laughing. I’m completely happy to report that we’ve got continued this pattern all through sol 2 and can hopefully proceed doing so for the remainder of the mission.
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I had feeling about this crew as quickly as they arrived on Mars. Jokes and intense laughter rapidly unfold like wildfire. We have already got quite a lot of inside jokes and we have solely been on Mars collectively for simply over 24 hours. Most crews find yourself selecting a sure theme for his or her mission impressed by popular culture, corresponding to “Die Laborious” for Valoria 1 and “The Mandalorian” for SENSORIA M3. It looks like Valoria 2 has discovered its theme, too — Harry Potter. The habitat now has a Ministry of Magic and a Room of Requirement. The jury remains to be out about which one is the toilet.
Our important supply of laughter and stress on the similar time is Officer Lain Velasco’s handbalancing coaching program for the crew. Lain has been knowledgeable acrobat for the previous 16 years and is at the moment finding out Earth and Planetary Science on the College of London. For this mission, she will probably be instructing the crew handbalancing strategies to extend our physique consciousness and familiarize our vestibular system to the sense of being the other way up in weightless environments.
To begin, we went by means of the enjoyable train of testing our particular person proprioception — our consciousness of the place and motion of our physique. This concerned looking for totally different components of our physique and balancing on one leg, each with our eyes closed. Everybody appeared to be very nervous about failing this check, particularly in entrance of the entire crew. That’s the reason one of many funniest moments at this time was when one crewmember exclaimed, “All of us discovered our thumbs. Greatest achievement of the mission up to now!”
We progressed to rather more troublesome duties as soon as Lain decided that we must always all have the ability to do a handstand by the tip of the mission. They concerned positions that we consult with as “cats making pizza” and “bananas.” This resulted in additional laughter, alternating carefully with nervous giggles and sweat as we tried an increasing number of difficult duties. Everybody tried very onerous to enhance their flexibility and efficiently carried out an assisted headstand. We at the moment are each terrified and enthusiastic about what’s going to await us tomorrow as a part of this coaching.
One other mission that includes many of the crew is Crew Engineer Chris Jackson’s testing of the Amazon Halo tools on us. Chris is within the Valoria 2 crew’s reactions to at least one one other utilizing this industrial off-the-shelf well being monitoring wearable. Because of his examine, we at the moment are all curious to see whether or not we’re absolutely conscious of how we work together with others, because the Amazon Halo app and wrist gadget is supposed to detect our tone of voice, amongst different options. On Earth, Chris is a methods engineer and structural analyst engaged on NASA’s next-generation Orion crew capsule. He joined this mission to realize a novel perspective of what it’s like for a crew to dwell on Mars within the not too distant future.
The entire crew can also be trying ahead to the outcomes of Plant Biology Officer Paul Tomko’s initiatives. Paul has a background in aerospace engineering, well being and diet. He’ll work to optimize rising lettuce varieties with our LettuceGrow hydroponics system, together with experimenting with numerous beans and seed-sprouting strategies to offer a lift of vitality and diet to the crew’s regular freeze-dried staple meals.
Our crew Operations Officer and In Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) Mission Specialist is Rilee Kaliher. She is a graduate pupil pursuing a grasp’s diploma in Aerospace Programs Engineering on the College of Alabama in Hunstville, and she or he’s working as a mechanical engineer on the similar time. Her function throughout our mission will probably be to characterize various kinds of volcanic rocks discovered across the HI-SEAS habitat with implications for ISRU throughout future lunar and Martian missions. Our sixth crewmember sadly needed to withdraw from the mission for private causes.
Lastly, I’m the commander of this Valoria 2 crew. My title is Dr. Michaela Musilova, and I’m the director of HI-SEAS. That is the second out of 5 missions that I will probably be main at first of 2021. I’ve been participating in lots of missions over the previous 12 months, because the pandemic affected our skills to offer coaching to the crews earlier than a mission. As a substitute, I personally prepare the crew throughout the mission. My specialization is in astrobiology, so when I’m not caring for my crew I attempt to discover time to check the extreme lifeforms that dwell in lava caves close to HI-SEAS, in collaboration with NASA’s Goddard House Flight Middle and Honeybee Robotics.
Commander Musilova signing off to an evening stuffed with magic, laughter and preparations for the extra in-depth coaching of the Valoria 2 crew.
Comply with Michaela Musilova on Twitter @astro_Michaela. Comply with us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Fb.