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Archives: Io 2000

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Io 2000 Mission PatchThis highly volcanic moon of Jupiter was the scene of our next mission in 2000. Under such volatile circumstances, our astronauts fared very well, dealing with the intense heat and activity quite admirably.

Despite minor timing problems, the Io 2000 mission blasted off successfully March 7 2000 at 1300 hrs EST. All of the astronauts were very excited as they waited in the shuttle for the countdown to complete.

Just after 1400 hrs EST on the second day, a series of volcanic eruptions pelted the sides of the habitat with large pieces of debris, cutting power to the interlock for a brief period of time. Not much could be done about it, for eruptions recommenced soon after. This bout was stronger than the last, and the perturbations forced a breach in the habitat wall. The emergency bulkhead between the longhouse and the interlock was shut down. Because of the severity of the breach, there was no time to get any repair items.

The first repair EVA was conducted by Gabrielle and Margot Cragg. They stayed in the longhouse while the rest of the astronauts filed into the airlock and sealed themselves in. Once this was done, they proceeded to depressurize the interlock (via the control panel). The two suited astronauts entered the longhouse to assess the damage. The rent in the hull of the longhouse stretched from the floor to the celing. They attempted to repair it, but their efforts proved futile. Gabrielle and Margot, however, did retrieve some repair supplies. In the next EVA mission, Charles Gaulke and Adam Feiner attempted to repair the hole with several pieces of adhesive tape, before their air supply began to run out.

Time grew short; the astronauts' access to the bathroom was cut off, and they needed to repair the hole. The final pair of astronauts, David Owen and Roman Dzioba, suited up and made ready to repair the rent. For fifteen minutes, they carefully attached a piece of polyethylene plastic to the gaping hole, finally fixing it. To compensate for lost time, the astronauts cancelled several proposed experiments. Later in the day, a volcanic eruption knocked out electricity in the longhouse. A brief consultation with Mission Control determined that there was no danger.

The next day, a leak in the water tank forced the astronauts to work 2 hours to repair the damage. Several pipes outside of the habitat were patched to prevent leaking. Roman then proceeded to collect rock and soil samples, and sent them back to the Habitat for analysis. Meanwhile. magnetic disturbances in Io's atmosphere adversely affected the electronics in the Interlock, knocking out power for an hour and degrading the network connections. Even after communication with MC resumed, there was a great deal of magnetic interference which caused the network to lag. A brief trip to the outside to locate electromagnetic rocks among the surface succeeded and normal network communications resumed.

An arduous trip back home had the astronauts fly through an asteroid field. Although no damage was suffered, the experience left the astronauts nervous and wary for the rest of the journey. The shuttle eventually splashed down on Earth at 1319 hrs EST Mar 10, 2001.

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