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Mission Support Journalist's Report July 31, 2001
(Lorraine Bell)

Today's Mission Support crew consisted of Katya Muscat as CapCom, Jim Rankin as Engineering Officer, Tony Muscatello as Mission Support Director and Lorraine Bell as Journalist and Liason. Lorraine had tried to convince Tony that he could take the day off but Tony's way too dedicated and couldn't be convinced.

We started the day reading messages that had been sent by Pascal and the field team around 1:00am. The report included several photographs including one that showed the teleoperation set-up in the hab complete with some cookies and a mug of something to drink. The cookies looked very tasty and the thought of getting to remotely operate a rover across the rocky terrain had all of us day dreaming.

At 3:32pm MST we received three questions from KSC. Katya instantly printed the questions, Lorraine retrieved the printout and pounced upon Dr. Zubrin to let him know he was "on". Dr. Zubrin quickly recorded his answers and Katya downloaded them and emailed them - all in record time for us. Several minutes after she emailed them our web cam had a slight problem and caused our CapCom computer to freeze. We had to manually reboot (fortunately our message was already away). We didn't receive an acknowledgement email from KSC so we called at 3:50pm MST to verify they had received our answers in time. They had!

The field team was in the process of seeing off three of their crew members (Carol Stoker, Larry Lemke, and Peter Smith) all had to pack up and leave tonight so weren't able to interact with KSC. Since those types of events are something we can sometimes plan for, the back-up of having Mission Support provide answers helps take some of the pressure off the field team. (though no doubt many in the audience would rather hear from the people actually on Devon than those of us here in Colorado).

Lorraine scanned various online news sites to locate interesting news items to forward to the field crew. As usual most of the news items were of murder and mayhem so the pickings were slim. She did manage to find a couple of very unusual stories and found some Nunavut news items as well so perhaps the crew were entertained, if only briefly. (note to the news organizations: we could use some help finding interesting, non-murder stories to send to the crew)

After the initial rush of what's come to be known as the KSC Dash, things were VERY slow. The field team was obviously busy with other duties (we kept scanning the web cam for signs of them) so we weren't getting any requests for information or any updates on their day's work. It's a good thing the web cams are up and running since often when Mission Support doesn't get word from the field team we tend to assume one of two things: either they are unable to respond (are the injured?) or they are unwilling to respond. Often we have a mental image of the crew celebrating and partying while we sit in these tiny offices desperately waiting for news. It's always possible they are partying out of view of the camera but we'll assume they really are working.

In one of the reports we received from the Field Team we learned that they had received EVA instructions from the Sci-Ops at NASA Ames. But we didn't know what those instructions were so naturally we were intrigued. We emailed Rocky Persaud to find out if we could get copied on those emails. It turns out the Sci Ops aren't emailing the field team. They two groups are interacting via a web site. (Rocky actually told us about that earlier but we had forgotten - sorry Rocky) This complicates the matter for us since Sci Ops doesn't want extra users taking up bandwidth. We scheduled a time we could call Rocky (7:30pm MST) so that maybe we could work out a compromise of some sort so that we could still stay in the information loop without interfering with or interrupting the research efforts. It turns out the number Rocky gave us is actually a "conference call" line that we could tap into. Tony listened in as Kelly Snook and Charles Cockell "downloaded" quite a bit of information to the Sci Ops team at NASA Ames. At the end of the their call Tony was able to speak to Rocky. At the end of the conversation, Rocky volunteered to send Tony the web site address so that the Mission Support Director can view the messages being exchanged. In addition the phone number is active most of the day so that the Mission Support Director can listen in for updates. (to alleviate concerns about taking up bandwidth, Mission Support will limit access to the Sci Ops web site to just the Mission Support Director).

By 8:15pm MDT we had not received any further communications from the Hab so we sent the Mission Support signing off message.

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Mars Society Flashline Arctic Research Station Mission Support