Dr. Michaela Musilova is the director of the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) program, which conducts analog missions to the moon and Mars for scientific analysis at a habitat on the volcano Mauna Loa. Currently, she is in command of the two-week Selene III lunar mission and contributed this report back to Space.com’s Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.
Commander’s report for the Selene IV moon mission at HI-SEAS
Lunar day 2 (March 14, 2021)
Something previous, one thing new. This rhyme goes by means of my head as I’m taking in the new views inside the HI-SEAS habitat. My Selene IV analog mission on the moon has simply began and already my residence away from house is altering. I’ve been the commander of nearly 30 analog moon and Mars missions, so HI-SEAS is a second residence for me now. Some crews embellish the habitat, whereas others do not. The Selene IV crew was on the ball with making HI-SEAS their residence too.
It began with the stock. I ask every crew to take stock of the meals and different provides that they’ve obtainable to them throughout their mission. In this manner, they discover out what they will work and reside with. It’s additionally their first staff train because it takes a number of hours and requires coordinating with each other to carry out the activity effectively.
Most crews simply plow by means of this activity and transfer on to extra thrilling actions. This crew took their time to each replace the manner we do the stock and to reorganize many of our provides, together with placing all of the obtainable spices in alphabetical order. I at all times tease crews that do that about how lengthy they will make such exact group final. Most fail inside a number of days.
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The subsequent factor I knew, a quantity of new posters began protecting the habitat’s partitions. Crew Operations Officer Lori Waters introduced a number of lovely area posters together with her, amongst different gadgets which have began to make this analysis station really feel a lot cozier. They embody cute stuffed toys, mission patches and Crew Systems Engineer Bill O’Hara additionally kindly gave us “remove before flight” keychains from Sierra Nevada Corp.
To my shock, even previous decorations began coming down. This is one thing that I had a tough time coming to phrases with. I treasure the previous decorations earlier crews depart behind, so it began to interrupt my coronary heart a bit when the Selene IV crew determined to take away some of these older drawings and indicators. Then, I noticed that maybe it was certainly time to maneuver on and alter issues up a bit in the habitat. Bring it on, Selene IV crew!
My favourite new set of decorations are little colourful paper notes on our fundamental habitat board, which comprise humorous quotes from my crewmembers. The board is filling up extraordinarily rapidly and we’re nonetheless at the begin of our mission. I’m already imagining these quotes protecting half of the habitat by this mission’s finish. It additionally would not shock me if this crew will give you new decorations and traditions for future missions at HI-SEAS.
A couple of decorations from earlier HI-SEAS missions survived Selene IV’s purge. The funniest ones embody “the precious” (a reference to the Lord of the Rings films and books), which is the title of our scorching air vent the place crewmembers huddle to heat up at evening. There’s additionally an indication that claims “the room of requirement” above one of our two emergency exits and off-limits zones. Finally, we even have a quantity of somewhat impolite indicators in the toilet alerting folks to ensure to carry out toilet-related duties appropriately.
We have compost bogs at HI-SEAS. They can undergo differing kinds of leaks if the correct amount of “human litter box mix” (because it has been nicknamed) isn’t added to the bathroom and the bathroom barrel is not spun in the proper course. I admit that one of these indicators is a drawing of me trying very offended and utilizing robust language to make sure that the bogs are handled in the correct method. These sorts of crew inside jokes at all times make me chuckle, which is why I depart these indicators up on the partitions.
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Lori began the pattern of redecorating the habitat and I’m grateful to her for that. She undoubtedly has a particular contact with all the pieces and everybody that she works with. On Earth, she is a co-investigator for the Magnitude.io ExoLab-8 mission and a University of North Dakota graduate pupil. During the mission, she will probably be researching meals crop manufacturing by rising legume pink clovers hydroponically, in addition to in simulated regolith. The ExoLab undertaking at HI SEAS will present floor trial knowledge, whereas paired to the identical experiment aboard the International Space Station.
The Selene IV crew engineer is Jack Bryan, who’s at the moment a member of the Systems Engineering and Integration staff at Masten Space Systems, a startup firm in Mojave, California. His job is concentrated on the improvement of the XL-1 Lunar Lander slated to ship eight NASA devices to the Haworth Crater on the south pole of the moon at the finish of 2022. Jack’s plan for our mission is to conduct analysis into the feasibility of combining the habitat’s waste with in situ assets to kind composite constructing supplies. Jack is at the moment main in the “one-liner” division, at all times developing with one thing unexpectedly humorous to say a number of occasions a day.
Another inventive crewmember and jokester on our mission is Science Communication Officer Monica Parks. She is the vice chairman of info know-how at Bank3 in Memphis, Tennessee. Monica holds a number of certifications in cybersecurity, info applied sciences, management and is at the moment enrolled in a number of programs that embody astronomy, area mission design and operations. She is a SpaceVariety alumna, citizen science communicator, an advocate for area variety and a candidate for spaceflight sponsored by the Denver-based nonprofit group Space for Humanity.
Bill is the solely different veteran analog astronaut on the crew, aside from myself. He beforehand participated in a simulated area mission at the Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA) habitat at NASA’s Johnson Space Center and the Haughton Mars Project Research Station (HMPRS) positioned in the Canadian Arctic. Currently, Bill is a lead engineer in Sierra Nevada Corp.’s Advanced Development Group and he is supporting NASA’s Artemis Human Landing System program geared toward returning people to the moon. During the Selene IV mission, Bill will probably be performing a case examine of the HI-SEAS habitat design and operations, whereas testing strategies for evaluating lava tubes for habitability.
Jack’s competitors on the crew, in phrases of one-liners and humorous quotes populating our habitat’s partitions, is in-situ useful resource utilization (ISRU) Mission Specialist Cameron Crowell. Cameron is an explorer and instructor at coronary heart who taught introductory astronomy in school. At the second, he works for the Virginia-based aerospace and protection company General Dynamics as a mechanical engineer operating a 3D printing lab. Cameron is endeavoring to find out the iron content material in the volcanic soil surrounding the HI-SEAS habitat by utilizing a magnet to separate iron from the regolith for ISRU functions.
Finally, my title is Dr. Michaela Musilova and I’m each the director of HI-SEAS and the commander of the Selene IV crew. My space of experience is astrobiology, with a give attention to life in excessive environments (extremophiles). That is why I actually get pleasure from performing analysis throughout analog area missions at HI-SEAS, since we get to discover lava caves in the environment of the habitat and examine extremophiles that may survive in these underground methods. We then carry out differing kinds of analyses in collaboration with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland and Honeybee Robotics in New York City to grasp whether or not related extremophiles could possibly be discovered on Mars.
Commander Musilova signing off, listening to extra laughter coming from the kitchen. Apparently, I missed a joke about nuking a hitchhiker from orbit. I higher discover out what is going on on earlier than it will be too late.
Follow Michaela Musilova on Twitter @astro_Michaela. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.