I'm off! 7-19-03
I'll have to make this quick, as I'm on my way to catch my flight to Ottawa, and then onward to Resolute Bay. I'll arrive on Devon Island some time on July 20th, and hopefully will get some internet access that evening. If not, I'll be thinking about you all, and will type something the next day.
I want to thank Justin Day for programming this blog for my trip, and hope that we can all have some good back'n'forth on here during my stay on Mars. Thanks to everyone who has donated to the Mars Media Project! Thanks to the Foundation for supporting this project! Thanks to Pascal for inviting me on this adventure, and thanks to John for helping me along as I do my last minute shopping and packing.
Posted by Elaine at 03:32 PM
PHOTOS: Launch Sequence
Since, #1 Devon Island is very beautiful, and #2 I'm still very excited about my new digital camera, I will be taking pictures every day and posting links here.
On my way to Mars!
Posted by Elaine at 02:08 AM
Docking in Ottawa
I must say, it has been smooth sailing so far. If only getting to Mars was really this painless. Maybe we could take some lessons from Canada...or something. The airports had very short lines, customs was a breeze. Going through security checks here feels like old times. I popped in a Canadian quarter that got stuck in my pocket right before my departure into a payphone here and three minutes later I had a luxurious hotel room for a bout 70 percent of what it should cost. :) And they lowered the price even more when I explained to them that I was merely docking and refueling on my way to Mars and was not going to be able to linger and enjoy the amenities. Taxi's take credit cards... It's a pretty easy going place here. And the people I've met so far are EVEN FRIENDLIER than most New Yorkers. Imagine.
Signing off now to enjoy one last night of darkness before I venture to where the sun never sets...
Posted by Elaine at 02:36 AM
(This is Baloney making an entry since Elaine couldn't get online)
Well, it seems that it's snowing in Resolute Bay, so the plane was first delayed, then cancelled. The airline is trying to arrange for a plane tomorrow to finish the trip; otherwise, the next plane is on Wednesday!
Pictures and more information shortly.
Posted by Elaine at 05:22 AM
PHOTOS 7-20-03: Iqaluit
Here we are on our way from Ottawa to Iqaluit, then spending the rest of the evening there once we realize our plane was delayed. These pictures should tell some of the story until I can get yesterday's journal up.
Posted by Elaine at 12:49 AM
MOVIES 7-20-03: Howling Sled Dogs!
These dogs were right next to the Iqaluit airport, and I thought it was an amazing site to see 40 howling doggies. I will put up some smaller versions of these soon.
Posted by Elaine at 12:53 AM
PHOTOS 7-21-03: Iqaluit and Devon
Posted by Elaine at 05:36 PM
We finally made it! The twin otter had a perfect landing on Mars, with one extra bounce for good measure. Apparently it's never "smooth sailing" all the way to Devon. Folks either get stuck in Iqaluit or Resolute, and we were lucky to only be stuck one extra night. Iqaluit was amasing, and I will post pictures next. I did, unfortunately, zap my long, detailed journal entry from yesterday (minor glitch there) but I will get it on here tomorrow, along with an description of today's events. It's been a busy busy day, it's almost midnight here and breakfast is at 7:30AM, so it's time for bed. I'm off to my tent to dream of Mars. It didn't seem too cold once we got here, but by now (11:30pm) the wind has really picked up and WOOOOO, it's chilly. Once I'm in my zero degree rated mummy sleeping bag in my specially ordered military long underwear, I'm sure I'll be fine.
Posted by Elaine at 11:37 PM
Devon Island 7-22-03
Day 2 on Devon Island!
Well, I wasn't exactly "fine" in my zero-degree-mummy-sleeping-bag. It was very very cold. I don't think there was any way to be warmer, except perhaps putting a hot water bottle in with me. Someone suggested that this morning. Now, why didn't I think of that? I spent the first half hour wriggling into some extra long underwear, which I wanted UNDER the ones I had on already. That was interesting.. wriggling into my long underwear, while inside of my mummy bag. Then I decided I needed my thicker wool socks, and even that was a challenge. Then I remembered that my contact lenses were probably freezing in their case, so I dug those out and kept them in my shirt all night. I put my clothes for the next day in with me too, hoping they'd be warm in the morning, but then realized they were acting as a heat sync and taking precious heat away from ME. So I threw those clothes back out. Then I needed a pillow... Finally I was all set (but still freezing). Then I was distracted by a very strange scratching sound on my tent. Was it the doggie? Nope, it was rain! It rained all night long.
Breakfast is at 7:30AM, and I manage to make it here at 7:29, teeth brushed! Pascal was supposed to be my alarm clock, but I woke up automatically and got right out of my (still cold) bag, hoping to get my blood moving. I'm the 2nd person in the food tent, and the other one is typing on his laptop. I take this opportunity to run back to my tent and grab my laptop. We have wireless in here, and I was given the spot next to the heater. Most everyone else showed up shortly thereafter. There are twenty or so of us here. We are served scrambled eggs and toast, and anything else we want to grab from the snack table. There is coffee, tea, tang, and anything we can possibly think of to drink this morning. I am in the lap of luxury! I'm tired from my almost sleepless night in my freezing tent, but I'm hoping to do better tonight. Tonight I'll try earplugs and remember to dig out my eye mask. Maybe I'll find a bottle I can make a hot water bottle out of.
Pascal called a short meeting to get organized, and then sent us newbies off for ATV training. What fun! We only got to drive a little ways and then come back, but I'm sure we'll get plenty of chances to drive around during our stay. Then it was directly to mandatory gun training! We all get trained in the off chance that we may need to fend off a polar bear. The bears have never come to base camp, so there is really only a fear of bears when people are on a traverse. Mel, our camp cook this season, and Joe, our gun trainer, had a close call with a bear yesterday when they were fishing for Arctic Char. They were miles from camp at a lake. The bear was hiding in the water behind some ice. They saw something moving, but thought it was a duck or something small. Once the bear was in sight, Mel and Joe stood up and the bear apparently was startled and left. The were very lucky that this bear was apparently not too hungry. In our gun training we learned that the fat, happy bears will get annoyed and run away if they hear a gun shot, or even just realize the human sees them. Our guns have room for five bullets. The first three are only meant to make noise for warning shots, and the last two are real bullets. The skinny, hungry bears may keep coming after the warning shots, and we only have two real bullets to finish them off. yikes! If anyone does have to actually kill a bear, the HMP gets charged $25k. It's a sticky situation to find yourself in, and luckily no one with the HMP has had to shoot a bear, nor has anyone been eaten. Four out of five of us hit the cardboard box (our bear target, which wasn't far away), and I'm proud to say I was one of 'em! Luckily I remembered my earplugs!
It seemed like in no time it was time to eat again! There is certainly no shortage of food here, and Mel caters to the vegetarians (myself and the cameraman from Discovery Canada). We have corn and potato chowder (YUM!), Inuit fried bread, fruit salad and brownies for desert.
I had a short meeting with Pascal in the HumVee about the logistics of the video. He then showed me some video footage that I might be able to use for my music video. I don't believe we'll get to start shooting my video until later this week, or this weekend. There are quite a few projects that need to get done in a very timely manner before people leave this Wednesday and Saturday. So, I'll have a few days to finish riveting my costume, work some more on the lyrics, and create a story board for the video shoot. I'll be tagging along on other people's traverses to get a lay of the land. We aren't allowed to traverse on our own, and I don't expect that I'll be able to lead my own expedition quite yet!
After dinner we had some frosted brownie cake to celebrate Brian Glass's birthday. I did some riveting work on my video costume before retiring to my sleeping tent. It was warm tonight because I finally got my air mattress filled, and I didn't have the entire Earth acting as a heat sync like I did the night before.
Posted by Elaine at 02:57 PM
Here are yesterday's photos! I hope you can get a lot out of these photo journals since I haven't had much time to type journals. Enjoy!
Posted by Elaine at 12:56 PM
Steve Braham 7-24-03
Heya. This is an entry from me, Steve. I'm the Chief Field Engineer and Canadian Principal Investigator of NASA HMP, here on Devon Island. I look after the exploration technology program here in the field -- everything from spacesuit computing and communications to mission operations, deep space communications, and crewed Mars rover tech.
We're having a great time here on Mars! It's my fifth field season on Devon Island, but it seems new each year. Have lots of our friends to work with, and new friends who are here to join us in trying to understand Mars, and how to explore Mars and the rest of the solar system. This year, we have new Mars airplane experiments, and, of course, the HMMWV, Mars-1!
We have a fascinating mix of space agencies, universities, private research institutes, and industry up here. We're pushing the edge and making it bleed with our research, both in the science, and in the technology!
However, it's not all work. I love hanging out with old friends and new friends here, all through the 24 hour day. We spend a lot of time laughing and smiling, and most importantly dreaming of space together.
Posted by warp at 09:07 PM
Read about the Participants!
There are a lot of great people here. It's amazing to be in the middle of all of this, and I feel particularly lucky, as a musician, to have the privelage of being part of the team. You can read about everyone here.
Charles Cockell, Brian Glass, Adrien Bisset, Alain Berinstain, Stephen Braham, Bill Clancey, Brian Glass, Jeffrey Jones, Matt Bamsey, Keegan Boyd, Trish Garner, Thomas Graham, Pascal Lee, Bill Fox, Greg Pisanich, Stan Kusmider, Addy Overbeeke and Melanie Howell have bios on that page. Also here are Ivan and Hernan from Discovery Canada and three other guests on their way back from their Arctic trip on Elsmir Island.
Posted by Elaine at 11:19 AM
Here are photos from Thursday! I look forward to going on another traverse later today, down to the crater. Yesterday's traverse to bring radios to Hamilton Sundstrand with Alain was a blast.
Posted by Elaine at 11:26 AM
Microbes at Haughton.
Asteroid and comet impacts kill dinosaurs, potential flatten cities and certainly make large, unforgiving holes in the surface of Mars. So you might be wondering what good could they possibly do for life? Here at Haughton we have been studying the way in which microbes can colonize the rocks that were shocked by the collision of the asteroid or comet with this region of the arctic 23 million years ago.
After being hit by an asteroid or comet, the "shocked" rocks are made much more porous and translucent than the ones not affected by the impact. Within these pumice-like rocks microbes can make a home. Photosynthetic microbes that use sunlight to grow can live near the surface of the rock, where there is just enough light for them to grow. Deep within the rock, where there is no light, microbes that eat organics can live in the cracks and fractures caused by the impact. And so here we have an example of how life can gain an advantage from the devastation caused by an impact. From destruction have come new homes for microbes to colonize the Earth.
This year, as in previous years, I have continued my survey of these rocks, collecting them to study how the microbes manage to make a living inside them and what sort of microbes grow there. Driving out across the crater I am looking for outcrops of rocks that 23 million years ago were subjected to the extreme temperatures and pressures necessary to make them new homes for these remarkable microbes.
Posted by cockell at 10:31 AM
Don't miss these spectacular photos of the vast, endless land in the Haughton Crater (and the rest of my day)! My wrist is killing me after pressing the gas lever on the ATV handlebar for four hours, but it was a -really- fun traverse to Trinity Lake. Fun fun! And my jaw was dropping the whole time as I looked around at the incredible alien-looking land.
Posted by Elaine at 09:52 PM
MOVIES: 7-24-03To view these clips, you need the Quicktime plug-in.
Steve shows Ivan the heads-up display | Resistance is Futile | Kimik chasing the HumVee | Kimik chasing the ATV | Twin Otter airplane on runway | Twin Otter stopping | Twin Otter starting up | Twin Otter take-off! | Twin Otter take-off 2! | Pascal introduces Bill Clancy's talk | Bill Clancey's talk (intro only)
Posted by Elaine at 05:09 PM
Posted by Elaine at 07:14 PM
My last night on Devon Island is coming to an end... Boy will I miss this place! If Mars is anything like this at all, I want to go!
Posted by Elaine at 03:01 AM
PHOTOS: 7-29-03We've made it safely off the island, and I'm on my way home!
Posted by Elaine at 05:41 PM
MOVIES!7-25-03: Carlos describes the ground penetrating sonar devices that he and his colleagues set up in front of the greenhouse. Carlos Nieto, graduate student at the University of Calgary
7-27-03: Beautiful sky! Silly Zan! Devon midnight sky panorama | Zan, the puppy
7-28-03: The weather was progressively getting worse this evening, so we all stayed in the mess tent and watched "Ten Things I Hate About You" which was very entertaining. Meanwhile, the tent was becoming a bit unstable, and two people went outside to reinforce it to withstand the wind. Camp is a bit muddy... wind and snow!
Posted by Elaine at 06:30 PM
MOVIES: 7-29-03Pascal awards patches. Every year Pascal awards an HMP patch to participants who are leaving Devon Island for their first time. (unfortunately we can't hear him talk in this video very well due to the wind.) It seems a bit anticlimactic, but I don't get a patch this time around. I already was awarded a patch two years ago for composing the song Devon Island and using my MARS CD to raise money for the Haughton Mars Project.
Launching off from Mars! The Twin Otter can take off with a very short runway.. and we do! As we are taking off you can see the HumVee, the greenhouse, basecamp, the two bathroom tents, and then finally tent city -- and there are only a small handful of tents left. And look at all of that land that I have yet to explore! Maybe next year.
More serious weather over to our left.
Bad weather. The First Air plane had to be guided to a landing with a helicopter because of the low visibility, high winds, and some ground gear that was not working properly.
Posted by Elaine at 10:40 PM