Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Today is my birthday, so I had a shower! It was a simple process:

1. Gather snow.
2. Fill and light the large propane heater.
3. Melt the snow on the heater.
4. Carry the water up two sets of ladders to the water reservoir.
5. Repeat steps 1-4 until the reservoir is full enough to support the water needs of the hab plus your shower.
6. Turn on the propane tank in the shower room.
7. Turn on the heater that warms the pipes under the shower, so that the drain doesn't get blocked by ice.
8. Turn on the valves on the pipes.
9. Turn on the hot tap in the shower just a little. If you don't, step 10 might cause a steam explosion.
10. Light the propane torch.
11. Light the inline heater.
12. Turn off the propane torch.
13. Get naked, fast.
14. Turn on the shower.
15. Get wet.
16. Turn off the shower, except for that explosion-avoiding trickle.
17. Suds up.
18. Turn on shower.
19. Rinse off.
20. Turn off the inline heater.
21. Turn off the shower.
22. Dry off, fast.
23. Turn off the pipe heater.
24. Turn off the valves.
25. Put on your dirty clothes.

OK, I'll admit that Simon did the bulk of steps 1-5, but it's still quite a process.

Here's me making my share of 'snow soup':


Sarah said...

Happy Birthday, stinky.

Lora said...

Happy Birthday, Smelly!
Did they make Mars cake for you?

Kim Binsted said...

I made Mars cake for myself, and it was damn good, if I may say so!

Zach T. said...

Happy Birthday, Kim!

This shower thing raises even more questions than the toilet situation!

--If you're bothering to save urine, are you saving soapy waste water from sinks and showers too?
--It seems there is some evidence of snow on Mars (but probably not of the clean H2O variety). Will the Mars mission take water with them, or are they also planning on using a "snow soup" technique? :)
--I was under the impression that the Arctic gets little precipitation. If that's true, will your quests for shower and margarita snow become longer as the snow around the hab is gradually harvested?
--In a few weeks, will you have to put your spacesuit on to go out and get snow?

I guess since I'm asking questions, I'm also curious about your internet connection. It seemed a major priority to get the satellite dish up for a high speed connection. Yet I've also seen hints that when you enter full sim, you'll have to give up the Internet. Is that true? How long would the disconnection last?

It's very interesting to learn what all the little sim rules are. :)

Kim Binsted said...

Hey Zach,

Right now the shower water is going into an ice slab under the hab, but we're setting up a better system. In any case, we're taking it out.

Successful Mars exploration is all about in-situ resource utilization and recycling. One interesting thing to note is that humans don't actually consume water. In a sealed environment, humans are actually generate net water. Of course, 100% recycling is
really hard, so yeah, some variation on "snow soup" will probably be required. Water is also a byproduct of the production of some other important life-support materials, so that's handy, too.

As far as our water sources here go, in middle of the summer, there's a stream not far from the hab. The transition period, when the water near the hab has melted and the stream isn't really flowing full force, might be a bit onerous, but we expect it to be very short. Luckily, I'm not the one having to do the snow hunting. We have two 'sim-flexible' engineers, who step out of the sim rules to do the tasks that are necessary in the Arctic but not realistic for Mars (such as carrying a gun in case of polar bears).

Sim rules don't restrict bandwidth, but they do enforce a very high latency, to simulate the time it takes for a signal to go between Earth and Mars. Basically, we can't do any synchronous comms, like chat, skype, and web surfing (because of the lag between clicks). Blogging and email are fine, although rapid-fire exchanges would violate the rules. We also have a small set of web sites we assume would be cached locally, which we can surf at will.

Keep the questions coming! I should probably do a blog post about sim rules...

Jen said...

Happy Birthday! You'll be glad to know Chrissy and I whooped it up for you, since you lack booze and sushi. Two martinis each, tataki, lobster rolls to start, Chinese 5-spiced duck confit for me, ono tataki for Chrissy.

You had a fun birthday!

P.S. I'm worried that you have already starting blogging about poo. Perhaps we need to start some sort of "Amuse Kim" blog comment contest to get your mind off the dookie.

Jason said...

Hey Kim,

Happiest of Birthdays to you. I just finished finals and I think (fingers crossed) I'm looking at 4.0 this semester.

We're going to Walter's play tomorrow night then I'm off to California for a month. I'll try to check in when i have a chance, I'm leaving the computer for Jen and my Mom doesn't have one , believe it or not.

By the way the pictures look great -good job-

Also your blog id photo looks smokin' did you get that done by a professional?

Happy Birthday Again, especially since your reading this on the 10th

Aloha Oe, Peace and Poi,

Nicky said...

I would just like to thank you for your input into the design of my new en-suite bathroom! I particularly like the design for the loo, the builder has asked for the spec, 'though he is not too keen on the exposed pipework but the chain is good. I really think you ought to patent it!

Evgenya said...


(really enjoying the blog! I know I've been slack on the comments though. will step up.)

Are you going crazy yet? Can we have a sanity-check, please? Maybe a scoring system would help. 0 for totally normal, 10 for duct-taped to the wall. For calibration sake, tell us where on that scale you were before you arrived on Mars (cuz it was likely not 0.0) :p

Kim Binsted said...

I had to ask for a second opinion on the sanity check. Kathy says I'm doing really well, with a score of 3-4. She estimates I'm a 4-5 on Earth, but she saw me when I was giving the airlines hell about my bags, so that might be a bit high. My max so far was an 8 when we were without internet for three full days. The duct tape was out of the box.

Zach T. said...

So you're eventually taking out these giant, four-month-sized slabs of urine and waste-water ice. You just put them on the plane? Weird. Where do you take them? Just drop them off in Resolute or something? :) Or do they get treated somewhere before the water is "released back into the wild"? Seems a bit excessive, especially for the urine.

On the internet connection, do you actually have a proxy server that inserts an appropriate latency? (That wouldn't be too hard to set up, I should think.) Or, rather as you describe it, are you just on your honor to engage in only certain kinds of web activity?

The details of Earth-Mars internet transmissions is rather interesting. As I figure it, it would take roughly 4 to 21 minutes for a signal to make the one-way journey, depending on the planets' relative orbits at the time. Then there's interesting black-out periods, such as when the Mars hab is facing away from Earth (assuming there are no Mars-orbiting relay satellites) or when the sun is between the two planets. And I guess you'd want some sort of stateless network protocol (not TCP!) to avoid compounding the latency by establishing a connection, but then you'd have to worry about data loss and errors. (It's been while since I took Edo's ICS651 and thought about protocol design...)

But simply put, yeah, I guess surfing wouldn't really work with an average 25-minute lag between each request. :)