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Mission Support Journalist's Report July 29, 2001

Mission Support had a small crew today consisting of Katya Muscat as CapCom, Jim Rankin as Engineering Officer, and Lorraine Bell as Mission Support Director. Jim and Lorraine also split the journalist's duties as well.

We received emails from the Field Team almost as soon as we were up and running. The team had a very successful (and full) day with robot tele-operations. Two crew members had to perform their experiments from a tent because of radio interference while in the Hab. They operated in standard clothing rather than analog suits as it was assumed they were in a secondary hab or large pressurized rover. Given the way people were dressed while outside it looked like a cold day to be working from a tent! Carol Stoker was successful in retrieving a rock sample using one of the robots and the sample will be analyzed in the Hab tomorrow. (and yes a small tent had been set up to block their field of view so that they couldn't "cheat" by looking over at their rovers. They had to rely on the video feedback)

The interaction with KSC was a little rushed but Pascal's answers were very thorough and were well received by the KSC audience. My responses were not as detailed and as I was not accustomed to the recorder the audience had to strain to hear my answers. Fortunately, the KSC team received Pascal's responses before they had to close down so the audience was able to leave happy.

The atmosphere at Mission Support was fairly relaxed after the KSC rush - nothing like a deadline and fear of being chided by KSC volunteers to get us running for the recorder! Now that the web cams are online in the Hab, we also took the occasional break to see what the Field Team was up to - we spent several minutes speculating on what they were eating for dinner. Good job Steve and Marc on getting those up and running. We certainly appreciate all your efforts!

I also had time to review several previous reports so that I could update the "shipping items" list. I learned that the Field Team had received 2 boxes of the Incinolet liners which leaves one box (purchased through the Canadian store) still in route. The Team also received the battery charges, fuse holders, and extra bite valves. The two 5.5 kW generators are in Edmonton so should be shipped to Resolute and Devon soon - depending upon First Air's schedule. There still seems to be one package of wax paper rolls still in transit but I'll need to confirm that with Tony Muscatello. It does look like our tracking nightmares are coming to a close though.

Getting voice reports and being able to see the occasional candid photo or web cam image is definitely a big plus. While the text reports from the crews are always thorough they often leave me wanting more details about how the crew is doing. It's one thing to read "everyone is doing fine and we are getting along well" but when you can hear the side comments and humorous remarks in the audio reports, you get to feel as though you really are a part of the crew/mission. I certainly hope that future field simulations and eventual missions to Mars include frequent audio reports.

During a slow period, we had a brief discussion about how soon we could send humans to Mars. Katya being young hopes it takes longer as she wants to be one of the first humans on Mars. Jim and I being older and more impatient are in a hurry. We want to see humans on Mars soon. I'm often frustrated by the idea that our children or grandchildren will be the generation to explore Mars. Why is that an acceptable time frame? I'm only 35. Shouldn't someone my age be the first person to land on Mars? There's something "not quite right" about the first person to explore Mars not even being alive when humans landed on the Moon. Let our children and grandchildren explore Europa. Shouldn't every generation get the opportunity to push humanity a little further into the cosmos?

Lorraine Bell, Mission Support Director and Journalist

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Mars Society Flashline Arctic Research Station Mission Support