Posted by: Saul Rosser
We’ve been living under the sea for almost 4 days now and things are going really well. But, we are still living under the sea and things do break.
The first night we were here, it was quite warm. It was about 82 degrees Fahrenheit which is warm enough to make you sweat a little bit at night. James and I (the two Habitat Technicians) spent the second day investigating the cooling system and isolated the problem to a solenoid valve in a cooling unit we call the ‘air handler’. This is an auxillary cooling unit which works in conjunction with the three primary Habitat Condition Units (two of which are in the main lock and one of which is in the entry lock).
The Air Handler, like the HCUs, blows habitat atmosphere over a set of coiling coils which are supplied with a chilled water-glycol solution from a chiller on the baseplate outside the habitat. The valve that James and I found to be faulty supplies water-glycol to the air handler coils and the actuator was unable to open it. Once we realized what was going on and determined that we would neither electrocute ourselves nor flood the habitat with water-glycol by fixing it, we removed the actuation motor and used a plastic zip tie to hold the valve open. While this is clearly a temprorary solution, by day 3 of the mission we had full cooling power and as I write this the habitat is a refreshing 77 degrees Fahrenheit.
Since we spend a lot of the day working in the warm moist Wetporch, it is wonderful to come into a cool and dry Main and Entry Lock.
Thanks for following along.