After lunch, we completed most lingering items on our pre-sim to-do list, including a surprise fire drill, testing bear bangers, firing the shotguns, flying the UAV, and receiving our last scheduled twin otter flight of the put-in phase of the expedition. Today was a beautiful day on Devon Island with temperatures in the 50s °F (10-15 °C) and mostly clear skies. It was warm enough not to need a coat.
For the uninitiated, bear bangers are explosive devices you launch from small pen-like devices. They produce an explosion and loud noise mean to scare away bears. You can see a video of someone demonstrating one on YouTube and a picture of me firing one below. Everyone tested the bear bangers and fired the shotgun once. We also practiced some scenarios of how to deal with bears in different situations. For example, if the bear doesn't notice us, we should back away. If the bear is 50-200 meters away and walking towards us, we fire bear bangers to scare it off. Only if the bear charges us at 50 meters or less do we consider firing the gun.
After the safety training was complete, I shut down the seismic station and brought it inside. I'll review the data to make sure it looks okay before redeploying the station in a more remote location in full sim within a couple of days. One of the tools we're planning to use to help me find a suitable site for the seismic station is the Prioria Maverick UAV that Joe brought with him. His second UAV flight on Devon Island today was a huge success. The weather couldn't have been better, and the new system he rigged for powering his laptop from the ATV meant he could stay outside for a long time. There are some great videos taken by the UAV in flight on the FMARS YouTube Channel.
It was my turn to cook tonight, so I made fried rice. Dessert was dried pineapple I brought with me from Hawaii. We'd just finished dinner and were sitting around the table talking when we got an email from Kenn Borek saying our flight was due to arrive at 8:10pm, which gave us only about 20 minutes to scramble to the airstrip.
Nothing is ever easy here. In particular, the ATVs we have are not reliable at all. We brought five, and the most we've ever had working at one time is three. Earlier today, three had been working, but when we tried to go meet the plane, only two worked (at first). I was on the second one that died halfway down the hill from the Hab to the stream. To make a long story short, I eventually ended up at the airstrip to help load the plane with the trash our crew had left there earlier. The plane had dropped off some barrels of fuel, so I was taking one back to the Hab when I got stuck on that dreaded hill, which is no longer snow-covered but instead consists of soft dirt. After about four attempts and a lot of muscle, we finally managed to get the ATV and trailer with the diesel fuel barrel up the hill. It had taken two hours.
Finally, check out this picture of some rocks near the Hab compared with a 1976 Viking photo of the Utopia Planitia on Mars. Devon Island really is Mars on Earth! I hope to take more Mars-like photos to compare to actual Mars pictures over the next couple of weeks.
Congrats to SpaceX!
I'd like to wish everyone at SpaceX a big congratulations from all of us on analog Mars. The fifth flight of the Falcon I launch vehicle and insertion of the RazakSAT to orbit was a major milestone for private spaceflight.