MDRS Crew 89 Rotating Header Image


Engineering challenges

Although our mission is still almost four weeks away, we have been eagerly following the reports of the current MDRS crews to learn from their experiences and better prepare for our own mission. So far one thorny problem has been condensation inside the suit helmets. Temperatures this year near the Hab have been colder than usual. Crew 85 has suggested several work-arounds, including wearing a balaclava/ski mask to reduce fogging and bringing a rope on EVAs to help guide vision-impaired crewmembers back to the Hab! Adding helmet heaters is beyond the scope of potential short-term modification, so our Chief Engineer, Darrel, has been brainstorming other solutions.

Another major practical challenge for our mission is the limited water supply (39 gallons per day to support our crew of six). Darrel would like to assess the possibility of more water recycling. Right now, the Hab has a graywater system that allows dishwater and shower water to filter out into the Green Hab and then be recycled as toilet flushing water (which then goes to the septic tank). If the Green Hab were sufficiently good at filtering/cleaning the graywater, it is possible that it could be re-used for showers or other uses as well. Darrell and Crew Biologist Luís are discussing plans to test the bacterial levels in the Green Hab outflow. If this is a possible source of additional water, it would make our lives a lot easier! (The necessary plumbing modifications might be beyond our abilities in this mission, though!)

No doubt there will be additional challenges (and opportunities) that arise during our own mission. We’ll keep an eye on the current crews to learn all we can before hitting the ground on January 23, 2010.