Flashline-16 Daily Report 06-07-2024

 In Daily report

Author: Michael Andrews – Crew Logistics

By the time that you are reading this message, the Arctic Wolves crew of the FMARS-16 mission are in our three-day simulation! We used this last pre-sim day to accomplish the following objectives:

  • Hike to the bottom of Haughton Crater
  • Organize the habitat for simulation
  • Gather water
  • Test space suits for EVAs

Our forecast was correct – today was (relatively) warm and sunny! After a quick breakfast of scrambled eggs and dehydrated fruit chips, we geared up for an all-day hike to the center of Haughton Crater. One thing to remember: the ozone layers have been significantly depleted near the poles, so sunscreen application is more important than normal for hikes. All seven team members would participate in this 10-kilometer hike.

For some historical context, Haughton Crater was created during a meteorite impact about 31 million years ago. The meteorite was 2 kilometers long and created an enormous crater with a 20 km diameter. The area has remained untouched ever since, with very little expeditions and local hunting occurring here. Today’s hike was the first time in years that the FMARS crew has descended into the crater this far.

This expedition has been the highlight of the trip so far for me. The photos below really speak for themselves, but I have never been able to experience desolation like this in my life. The terrain felt otherworldly, with sparse patches of life. We set an original location on our devices to head towards, but we stopped approximately halfway after hiking for 3.5 hours before turning around. However, we still reached a local minimum of elevation and were able to collect plenty of samples. Mission Specialist Woods flew his drone from our turnaround point to the final destination, so we were able to survey the entire area remotely.

Although the hiking distance and elevation change wasn’t intense, it was made much more technical by the need to keep the area untouched. Hikers may know the “leave no trace” mantra, but here it must be taken to the extreme. Much of the soil here is silty and has been saturated with rainwater and snowmelt, and a complacent step could create a footprint that remains for hundreds of years. Chief Science Officer Nicholson helped show us how to scan the terrain for a path that is firm (which is documented better in this expedition report), and the crew adapted.

Once we got back to base almost 6 hours later, the team had a few actions to work before starting simulation. Part of the team prepped dinner, others gathered enough water to last the next few days, and I finished organizing the engineering room and EVA room. The generators were serviced, and our oldest generator “Jenny” may require an air filter replacement. Crew Engineer Robbins prepped his custom space suit that he shipped up here for the mission. Our water system will undergo some work over the next few days to restore functionality.

We are finally here: it’s time to start our analog Mars simulation. The next few days will restrict us from leaving the station, unless we properly don our suits. Only limited roles can be performed without an EVA suit: trash incineration, generation servicing, water collection, etc. To recap, it took 6 days to reach Devon Island and 4 days of habitat preparation to get to this point. All of this time emphasizes just how remote Devon Island is and just how much effort is required to maintain a research station. Now we can begin to justify the journey and training.

The Arctic Wolves are on the clock. Wish us luck and success over the next few days!