Our difficulties began almost immediately upon our egress from the Hab. Luís and I hopped on the Viking I and Spirit rovers only to discover that our EVA suit backpacks stuck out too far for us to comfortably ride the vehicle with the boxes behind us. Luís decided he could manage since the box on his rover was positioned farther back than the one on my rover. We had to move the box from the back rack to the front rack on my rover, and this ate valuable time.
climbed just two days ago, the bungee cords holding the box to my rover's front rack gave way, and I barely caught it before it fell to the ground. I had to stop and put it back on the rover. Luís and Darrel helped. We moved it to the back rack where it originally was but were able to inch it back a little to give me enough room to sit down with the EVA suit.
On our ascent to the top of the ridge, we snapped a few photos and video footage. I had been here on EVA 13 just four days ago, and in that time the snow cover had thinned considerably. The dirt was even showing through in a few places. Another couple days of above freezing temperature, and the snow will be gone, replaced by the slippery muddy clay we experienced on our first two days at MDRS.
Darrel, Luís, and I enjoyed the expansive scenery of Mid Ridge Planitia as we motored south on along Radio Ridge under mostly sunny skies. I stopped at some of the same places where I'd taken geotagged photos on EVA 13 so Kiri could have overlapping shots for her auto-geolocation study. We arrived at the target location around 2:15 pm, a little over an hour after embarking on the EVA.
I should back up and explain why I wanted to do the study in this location. Nominally, the main goal of the experiment is to test the feasibility of collecting a 2D seismic profile using a towed land streamer (more on what those terms mean later). However, if the exercise can be carried out somewhere with interesting geology, that's icing on the cake. As luck would have it, MDRS Crew 83 led by Carol Stoker of NASA Ames collected ground penetrating radar (GPR) data earlier this field season data and discovered a buried feature where the Kissing Camel Range (aka: "Dragon's Head") intersects Radio Ridge. The interpretation is that Kissing Camel Range is an inverted channel that is covered by the Cretaceous sediments comprising Radio Ridge. An inverted channel is former streambed that filled with resistive material. Over time, erosion removed the surrounding surface leaving the former stream behind as positive relief (hence the "invereted" moniker). Inverted channels have been spotted in multiple locations on Mars, and one at Miyamoto Crater has been identified as a potential landing site for the Mars Science Laboratory.
theodolite or total station to make this work easier, but being resourceful Mars pioneers, we had to make do with the materials at hand. In this case, that meant a 50 meter tape measure, some homemade survey flags, a handheld GPS unit, and a compass. First, I walked the nominal 165 meter (540 ft) line I had planned for the profile and marked each end with a bright red bucket. Then, Darrel and Luís stretched out the measuring tape while I started unloading and hooking up the equipment. We had to adjust the the line a few times before I was satisfied it was straight. Luís put the survey flags at all of the planned shot points and spread endpoints, and Darrel marked GPS waypoints.
Then it was time to move the geophones 60 feet down the line and take more data. I drove the rover along while Darrel made sure the land streamer didn't get tangled. I was impressed with how well the system performed and can appreciate why land streamers are very popular these days for enabling quicker more affordable seismic surveys. I had asked Darrel to tell via radio when I needed to stop, but I didn't hear him. I overshot the mark and dragged the geophones too far. So, Luís and Darrel pulled on the land streamer while I backed up. This would have been fine except that I had drive over a big rock.
Going downhill over the rock meant the rover was tipped backwards pretty steeply. I had only loosely closed the box on the back of the ATV holding the equipment. When the rover pitched, the laptop slid out. In the process, it yanked the ethernet cable jack out of the PCMCIA card. Thankfully, the laptop itself escaped being run over by the vehicle, but the PCMCIA card didn't fare so well. I shoved the ethernet jack back in hoping it would work, but it did not. The laptop started beeping, and it all three of us squinting at the black screen to get the computer rebooted.
After a couple of hours wearing a headlamp and soldering tiny wires, Darrel was able to fix the Toughbook's PCMCIA card. Kiri and I tried recovering the data from the laptop and to our horror found that it wasn't there. According to the log files, the six shots we took today should have been recorded, but the data has vanished. Perhaps it's related to the hard reboot we had to do in the field. Life on Mars is never easy. We'll go back out tomorrow and start over. This time we'll try putting the laptop in a cardboard box to reduce glare.
Exploration Instruments, LLC for their generous loan of the seismic equipment for this study. Some day, astronauts on another world will need to conduct geophysical exploration of the shallow subsurface, and the work we're doing helps identify how to modify terrestrial methods for extraterrestrial application.
For full details on the past couple of days of our mission, check out the links below:
|Sol 10 (Feb 2)||Sol 11 (Feb 3)|
|Crew Blog Post 1 |
Mike's Blog Post
All Daily Reports
EVA 16 slideshow
|Crew Blog Post 1 (and 2) |
Mike's Blog Post
All Daily Reports
EVA 17 slideshow