Elaine Walker's Personal Journal - HMP 2004 Education and Public Outreach
July 24, 2004 - We've made it to Devon!
First thing in the morning, after a quick breakfast, we had a go for flight to Devon. It was a close call, even up to the last minute when we were about to launch, but we made it! Once here, I needed to figure out where the empty tents were. John Parnell (University of Aberdeen), geologist, and Sekou Crawford (NASA Ames) helped me pitch a tent that we found in storage since I have never pitched a tent in my life. I guess I'm an indoorsy kinda gal. This tent had a broken zipper and other minor glitches, but it is basically a very nice tent - the same as I had last year. We secured the broken front door and I will be using the back door. A tent with a front AND back door can't be all that bad.
This afternoon it was Darlene Lim's turn to wear the medical sensors. We got her hooked up and tried to think of a solution for the finger sensor, to keep it dry. Darlene Lim is a limnologist, so she will inherently get her hands soaked doing her work. She studies lakes in the High Arctic, in particular their microbial populations, to understand climate evolution through time. Understandably, she wasn't thrilled about the idea of having a device on her finger.
At around 3pm, Gordon "Oz" Osinski (a geologist from the Planetary Science Institute), Rhoda and Pauline (two sisters from Grise Fiord) called back to base camp from a site inside Haughton Crater. They had gotten both of their ATV's stuck in the mud. Oz attempted to pull them out with his ATV using rope, but it was apparent that two ATV's were needed in this case. The pictures tell all! Normally we might come to the conclusion that 3 ATV's in the field is enough, but apparently not always. Pascal, Vicky Glass and Samson Simeonie went to their rescue with 3 ATV's and more rope. The rescue went as quickly as can be expected in such a muddy situation. Pascal also complimented Steve Braham for the flawless radio communication.
Meanwhile, Brian Glass and the Honeybee Robotics team embarked on a mission to set up their drill. For this experiment, the Mars Institute's Mars-1 Humvee Rover is serving as a temporary service platform for the drill team. Pascal and I drove the Humvee to the soil sampling site, loaded with the drill equipment, and the team followed on ATV's. The site is about a mile from base camp, and a very barren looking one at that. Miles and miles of featureless land surrounded us, yet the team unanimously chose a location, undecipherable from the rest of the nearby land as far as I could tell. It had something to do with firmness, and the prospect of potential biology that may lie beneath. Pascal backed the Humvee up so that the back end faced the drill site.
A tarp was erected over the site so that the conditions would remain as dry as possible. The team would like to keep conditions as close to Mars as possible. The first site was chosen as a shakedown site for the drill. To work through the topmost active layer (approximately 20 cm here), which may thaw, they came up with the idea of drilling a hole at the bottom of a bucket, slightly larger than the drill bit, and placing the bucket into a hole that is dug out a couple of feet down to the ground ice. This way the drill can start it's drilling at the top of the ground ice layer and not have to contend with the layers of mud. The team sets up the base and the drilling mechanism, and will start drilling the following day.
Behind the scenes, there was actually a second research project going on. Howard had the medical sensors affixed to his body so that the medical team could collect data while he carries out activities, installing the drill. We all got a chuckle because both the drill team and the medical research team needed to use duct tape to solve some small issues with things not staying in place. Duct tape is our friend.
We jogged back from the drill site, which is about a mile away. I felt very warm after that jog and went straight to bed to capitalize on my body heat and stay warm in my sleep.