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Day 8 Pre-sim

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We didn’t get through the items we need to so we are delaying the sim for a day. I’m really pushing to complete the things we need to get the science started.

There is water pooling on the floor near the main airlock. It isn’t much and it appears to be coming from some water lines running across the ceiling. The lines are hot and cold water to the shower/bathroom and a drain line for the 2nd floor sink. There is water on all three lines so it is less likely that the source of the leak is on the 1st floor unless there is something locally that caused all three to fail in the same location, which wouldn’t be surprising after 6 years of arctic freeze/thaw cycles. Another cause could be one of the lines is leaking onto the others. Upstairs under the sink we can see water on all the lines too, but behind the basin the source of the leak is the fixture itself. I think I saw one earlier that we can replace. LaterI found another and replaced the faucet and sealed the basin drain, both were leaking. Now we have a working sink which makes the 2nd floor much better.

We had another conference call, this time with the Canada chapter of the Mars Society, it went well. We used a lot of diesel yesterday running the small hot water heater for cleaning and our weekly shower. We plan to use less fuel today and even less in sim. Our wind turbine is producing what is advertised, but the wind is not strong enough to give us the hundreds of watts we want to pull from it.

We had to change the pee barrel today. Did 5 people produce 55 gallons in a week? No. The past crews screwed us. So we hauled their piss out to the runway to be removed from the island.

I have a had a plan for the past 3 days that I’ve been trying to get the time to complete. It’s based on a hunch. Researching the information leading up to this, I saw the last crew note that they had condensation between their fixed window panes while they were here, and they mentioned mold. When we got in, I noticed the same condensation. It didn’t make sense, it was arid, dry and hot for days. I took me a while, but it hit me hard that one of the only ways this could happen is if the walls were holding water. These walls are built like a cardboard cat-scratch box layered with sheets and glued together. If you cut corrugated cardboard into many strips, align them so you can see the wavy pattern edge-on, glue those all together and cover them with flat face sheets, you will have a very strong composite panel. I had asked everyone, even Dr. Zubrin, what the inside of the panels look like, but no one knew. The original design might be in the archives. I was told it was like a honeycomb, with the corrugations creating individual hexagon cells, but I discovered this to be wrong. It is actually built with the corrugations in wavy channels that run vertically. They do not touch and are filled with fiber glass insulation. On Day 2 after dinner I saw “inside” the walls for the first time thanks to the sun and the round shape of the hab. The terminator where the sunlight changes to shadow on the curve of the hab allowed me to see the subtle waves beneath the panels. I calculated ~324 wavy columns for the whole hab. If those columns had water leaking in from the top and no way to escape, they could be filled with water year-round, feeding the mold. Back when I saw the moisture in the windows, I had asked if I could drill holes in them like in airplane windows to allow the air to move in and out. I figured the moisture was just between the window panes, not knowing about the vertical columns. I was told I couldn’t make holes in the windows. So now I don’t ask to drill holes in the hab anymore. I was prepared to drill 324 holes to allow each channel to drain, but I decided to see what one would do. I drilled a hole in the bottom of the wall of the hab near the main airlock and some water cam pouring out. I was right. I found one of the main causes of 23 years of mold issues. I went around and marked off where I would drill more and decided to drill 3 holes in each panel, two on the ends and one in the middle. As I went around I noticed that some of the panels already had what looked like drain holes designed into them, they were the panels with the windows. Every drain hole was filled with caulk. I got to the panel that I had seen in the picture and drilled a 5/16th inch hole. It gushed water for over half an hour. Liters and liters and liters came out of that wall. A conservative calculation shows over 200 liters of water were removed from the wall. I drilled 4 more holes in that wall and went around to the others. Many were dry at the bottom but about half drained some, but none like that full panel. It was astounding. I took photos of the condensation in the windows and I will check them to see if there are any changes over the next few weeks.

We had butter chicken over rice for dinner. We finished the last of the dishes and put away all the food from our expedition and all the past ones that left food here. It took a week for us to sort through all their food and throw out the crap that is too far gone. But some of this stuff never expires so we’ve been eating Indian Army MREs and some other stuff like chocolate and Tang. We have some choice words for the previous crews of this research facility. A lot of good work was done today. Tomorrow we just have a couple things to wrap up and we’ll see if Andrew is satisfied enough to close the airlock for good to kick off the mission tomorrow evening.

6 thoughts on “Day 8 Pre-sim”

  1. That a tremendous amount of water! I hope it clears up the moisture in the windows. Will you be able to take pictures and videos outside once you are wearing the sim suits?

  2. Pretty impressive “hunch”! Really enjoy reading about your activities. I was wondering about the “little worm-like thing” you found in the river – is it anything like those “ice worms” I know that they live in snow/ice conditions but I was wondering if one could end up in the river if it was cold enough. Just curious! Stay safe & keep warm

  3. So much water. What can be done to mitigate the mold that’s likely in the panels?
    And your meals sound….. interesting

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