By Chris Looper
Chris Looper is Chief Engineer of the EVA Branch of the Astronaut Office, and is splitting time as a test subject and as Traverse Director of Desert RATS 2010.
Friday, September 3
Day 4 was our first day of traverses with communications only between the two rovers, except for a morning and evening briefing with the Mission Control Center (MCC) at Base Camp. It was fun just as the previous days were and interesting to be testing a different mode of operation.
It really seems the terrain you are exploring and your overall objectives for your mission will dictate to you the best mode of operation for using two rovers. Jim and I are getting better at how to work together addressing a rock outcropping. The training we are getting is something that a real exploration crew would get over a long period of time. We can sense the learning curve as we figure out ways to try to be more effective. It is obviously a huge learning experience for me (being an engineer) since, even though I have some graduate level course history in geology, I have no field experience at all, nor any field training except for what I was able to pick up in previous Desert RATS tests.
Luckily, I enjoy few things more than walking around in nature observing all there is to see. All the different aspects of geology are interesting although the terminology is difficult to retain unless you are immersed in it in your everyday work life. I have learned that one of the keys to good field geology is simply being observant of those things relevant to what you are trying to understand and describing what you see. We are over halfway done on our 7-day traverse and looking forward to the days ahead.
Chris Looper shows how the crew moves from inside of the rover to the suit port in preparation for a spacewalk:
Chris demonstrates putting on the life support vests used during the “shirt-sleeve” Extra-Vehicular Activities (EVAs):