Sunday, August 28, 2011

Don’t mind the noise; we’re building a new Mission!

Welcome Back to the Moon! The view from the ILSR Field team in northern labrador. Read all about their adventures here!

It's the end of August and the change of seasons is in the air. Labour day is almost here, the US Open starts up tomorrow, and it's time for us to wrap up the ILSR Analogue programme with one more field deployment. As part of the famed "Anablog" I contributed a column which I've copied below. The original can be found here. For more information as it happens, keep up with the blog!

What’s changing as we move from SLAM to KRASH.

The end of the Sudbury Lunar Analogue Mission (SLAM) was, in a way, just the beginning. Almost immediately, our thoughts turned from the hectic two-hour cycle of Mission Control to think about how we would manage actual live astronauts in the field in addition to our robotic rover. Could we use the experience gained in June to our advantage? What could stay the same? What would need to change?

This weekend marks the culmination of that summer of planning. The team is now in the field and operations go LIVE on Monday, August 29 for the Kamestastin Research Analogue Site for Human exploration, better known in these parts as KRASH. KRASH brings us back to the Moon by heading up to Northern Labrador. There we will simulate two different missions. The first scenario will play out near the rim of Kamestastin Crater as two Astronauts, Anna Chanou and Raymond Francis, imagine themselves to be visiting a site that has been well-characterized by a precursor landed rover, as simulated in August of last year.

Landsat Image of Kamistastin (Mistastin) Crater. The golden area in the upper right has been dubbed the "Rim Site" whereas the lower left is "Disco (Discovery) Hill."

Monday, August 8, 2011

Review: Kessler's Martian Summer

A portion of the cover of Andrew Kessler's Book describing his experiences as an embedded author on the 2008 Mars Phoenix Mission.

What can I say about Andrew Kessler's Book "Martian Summer?" First off, it's a very different read from a very different perspective compared to many of the previous write-ups about space missions. Instead of detailing technical details and relying exclusively on the views of a member of the science team or the P.I. (Principal Investigator), the story provides Kessler himself as a bridge between the reader and the mission. In addition, the conversational tone makes it seem almost as if the story is a novelization of events. This is really where the text succeeds, for even though it is marred here and there with minor inaccuracies, it does one exceptional thing right: the text captures the feel of working in mission control better than any other. The result is an engrossing read that really brought the experience of my own Martian Summer back to me.