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The Dunatian (The Martian - Kerbal style)


SirJodelstein
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Also, what are you doing to get a "donut farm"?

Like Laythe Dweller said - i cfg-hacked myself a very small and surface-attachable version of the ROUND-8 (plus made the heatshields to accept surface attachment). In a similar way, the solar farm panels are upscaled versions of the small static panels.

In the meantime, our hero is facing minor unexpected problems.

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Will there be another log entry? Stay tuned :)

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LOG ENTRY, SOL 26

I am alive. Holy Kraken, I am alive. Can't believe I survided THAT. Still not sure what exactly happened. For the record: I am writing this log entry from Rover II, because the hab exploded last night. A hissing noise woke me up, and one second later the whole hab was filled with a fiery roar. The explosion ripped a huge hole into the roof, and I found myself sucked into the cold martian atmosphere. Guess the "always wear your spacesuit" policy has it's benefits, I would have died without my helmet. I landed about a hundred meters away and skidded across the ground for another twenty. Obviously, I am not seriously hurt - we astronauts do extensive ground-skidding training on the Mun as a part of our interplanetary qualification process. I guess this time I am lucky to be on a planet without oxygen in the atmosphere - the flames died almost instantly.

Right now, I don't have time to think about what has caused the explosion or what else got destroyed. My first priority right now is to fix the gaping hole in the hab ceiling. I know there is some spare canvas in the storage container. I have already shut down the atmospheric regulator to prevent it from trying to re-pressurizing the hab. The regulator is able to keep up with minor leaks, but not with several square meters of missing hull. Grab your tools, Mister Engineer, another extensive EVA is about to commence.

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Edited by SirJodelstein
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LOG ENTRY, SOL 27

I could not finish repairs of the hab roof yesterday, so i slept another night in the confines of Rover II. It took me another three hours today to patch it all up. It's not pretty, and I will really miss the sunlight that came through the east-facing window, but it will do. The hab is repressurized now, and the atmospheric regulator readouts indicate that there is no leakage happening. I'm going to sleep one more day in the rover just to be safe. Also, it is still really cold in there. The air conditioning system was designed to fight heat dissipation through the canvas, and not really to heat up the whole place from subzero temperatures on short notice.

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I've spent the rest of the day with damage asessment. Most of the snack plants have turned to ashes, but the seeds in the soil look healthy enough to restart the cultivation process. That is, if I can do it without blowing myself up (again). The water and oxygen tanks still look solid, and the other supplies were stowed safely behind doors and lockers. Some chairs got thrown around the place and broke, and two light bulbs burst. So, nothing really problematic.

By now, I think I know what caused the explosion. Remember when I said using rocket engines indoors was probably not a very good idea? Well, it was not, but just in a very different way I expected it. I was anxious about immediate threats like exhaust heat, fuel line leaks or something catching fire, and was kind of happy to see that all therse were manageable. But, what finally got me was a very subtle effect. You see, these high-precision thrusters are classic bipropellant combustion engines. They use liquid hydrogen with oxidizer to sustain an almost perfect combustion process. Almost. 99.5 percent of the hydrogen is ignited in the combustion chamber and leaves through the nozzle. The tiny remainder just escapes in gas form. I have been slowly but steadily filling up the whole hab with hydrogen! And since no hydrogen was ever supposed to come close to the hab, it is not equipped with sensors to detect this. Once the gas concentration crossed a certain threshold, a tiny spark or hot spot was enough to set up a large explosion. Damn, what a scary thought - I've been living in a barrel full of gunpowder for a week. I must find a way to prevent this from happening again before i activate those engines again.

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I have an idea how to solve the hydrogen problem, but I am somewhat reluctant to execute it because it involves deliberately poking new holes into the hab surface. However, this has to wait, because another urgent problem became apparent this morning. The temperature in the hab does not increase. I checked the electrical heaters - they are damaged beyond repair. Probably from the little accident i had two days ago.

So today, I made a small excursion with Rover II to add another kind of dangerous piece of equipment to my little residence. I retrieved the RTG array from the burial site. I'm not sure if adding radioactive material into a building that might explode again, but thats the only reliable heat source I could think of right now. You see, this thing not only provides electrical energy. In addition, it radiates an immense amount of heat. I've put it on one of the tables on the hab.

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I'll sleep in one of the rovers tonight. Again. Parked at a safe distance. I really miss my comfy sleeping cabin in the hab. If the hab survives the night without melting or blowing up, I'll do more damage to it tomorrow. Oh boy, this is turning out to be a little more exciting than I wanted it to be. I ate a triple snack ration today to calm my nerves.

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LOG ENTRY, SOL 28

Well, the hab is still standing. Its really warm inside now, the heat emissions from the RTGs produce more energy than is lost through at the surface. Since the RTGs have no "off" switch, I have moved my new heating system into one of the airlocks. Tadah! Now i have a rudimentary heat regulation option.

On to the next problem: Hydrogen gas in the hab. My solution exploits the fact that hydrogen is lighter than air. If i deactivate the air ventilation system, the hydrogen will move upwards. I have poked a small hole into the conical rooftop and installed a mini-vent from KAS Incorporated. By opening the vent, the hydrogen will evade before the air. But since I'd like to keep the air inside, I needed an indicator to see when no more hydrogen comes out. So, i added a small fuel tank plus engine to the setup. I deprived the tank of hydrogen, so now it only holds liquid oxydizer - all the rocket fuel (this time in gaseous form) comes from the hab itself. As soon as the exhaust flames stop, I close the vent to keep as much air inside as possible.

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A test run was successful, and I am restarting plant production. This time, I'm adding a "stop the ventilation for the night, then burn hydrogen at next morning" step to my schedule.

Edited by SirJodelstein
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LOG ENTRY, SOL 29

The snack plants are recovering and the hydrogen venting seems to work. Finally, I've got some time for some recreational engineering. So I built something with the parts from the RTG burial site. The rover is still quite fast eventhough I had to sacrifice one engine for the chimney.

Man, it's such a shame that I cannot share this with the team and all the KSC staff. I wonder If they are angry at me about this whole thing. I wish I could talk to them. I'm sure if I could share my story with them they would understand why excitement is important for space exploration. Maybe they would change future missions to be a little more adventurous.

By now, all five satellites around Duna are probably peeking at my residence whenever they pass overhead. I wonder if they have seen the explosion, or if the image resolution was good enough to see the hole in the hab. The more I think about home, the more resolved I am: My next big project will be to re-establish communication with Kerbin.

I wish KSP would really run so fast. With all the parts at the site, the game actually runs at half that speed, and the video was sped up.

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LOG ENTRY, SOL 32

I'm on the move! On Sol 31, I prepared Rover 2 for an extended trip. I brought plenty of snacks and CO2 filters inside, and installed a small additional oxygen tank. Then, i stacked six solar panels on the rover, and mounted a container full of potentially useful stuff. I also brought a part of the RTG array inside, so that I can switch off the heating system. This way, almost all electrical power from the batteries can be used for actual driving. This has doubled the available operation time to 12 hours. Since a day on Duna has 18 hours and I'm not driving during the night, I need to stop every second Sol at noon for a recharge. Thats were the solar panels come in handy. Setting up the panels and waiting for the batteries to recharge takes the rest of the day.

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I'm going straight south to recover a probe that has landed on this planet a decade ago called Pathfinder. I hope that I can reactivate or repair it's camera system and communication antenna. If I can make it there without crashing the rover, that is. And If I can find it. It's not like its sending out a navigation beacon or something. The probe has gone silent years ago after its solar panels got covered by dust. I have entered the landing coordinates into the rovers board computer and hope that the lander is somewhere nearby. For all we know about Pathfinder, it might be completely covered in dust by now. Or maybe a dust storm has picked it up and dropped it somewhere else, possibly miles away.

Jump to next Log Entry

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  • 3 weeks later...
is this ever going to be continued? i was loving it :(

Hey everyone, thank you so much for all the kind words. Just checking in briefly to say that I definitely do want to continue this story. It's just that those little episodes do take time to prepare, shoot and write. I've started this project when i was recovering from a knee surgery - which meant a lot of forced indoor time. Well, the recovery phase is over, it's holiday season and we have a really great summer in Europe (or at least in Germany). So at the moment, I'm not spending as much time indoors as before, and I am quite happy about it.

Also, i was kind of surprised to find out that with 12 hours of driving about 20m/s, Philfred could cover half of Duna's circumfence in just 2 sols. So the tinyness of Duna screws up the maths behind the epicness of the journeys from the book, and i'm not sure how to resolve this. I might have to come up with an event that severely slows Philfred down *mysterious plot foreshadowing*

On the plus side, i have finally decided on a Pathfinder design, and have built and setup the lander + micro rover site.

TL,DR: Yes, this is going to continue. At a noticably slower pace than before, but I'm not done here :)

Cheers,

SirJodelstein

Still on 1.0.2

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LOG ENTRY, SOL 34

Note to self: Don't do dangerous maneuvers so far away from the hab. I hit a bump too hard and too fast, and the rover toppled over. I came to a grinding stop 50 meters further downhill and destroyed four of the six solar panels in the process. Everything else is fine though. I only took some minor bruises, and with the winch from the container I was able to put my trusty (and now also dusty) rover back onto it's feet.

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I need to drive more carefully from now on. The Pathfinder Site is only 175km away, and the gentle hills around here really make me want to drive fast, but I'm going to take it slow from here on. I cannot risk crashing again. I have enough supplies for another 25 Sols inside. Even if i only do 50 km in two Sols, I have a theoretical range of about 600km. 50% more than the remaining 400km for the trip to Pathfinder and back. I should be fine.

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Heya, subscribing and reading this. Just read the book last week - REALLY. GREAT. BOOK.

The final sequence had 45 seconds of my hands sweating profusely, 20 seconds of me catching my breath, followed by another 40 seconds of tears manly tears. Hoping the movie is nearly as good.

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LOG ENTRY, SOL 35

Drove another 25km until noon, then the batteries went dry. The hills in this region are a little higher and steeper than before. Nothing problematic yet, but still I have to take some extra while navigating the terrain. Noticed a problem with my calculations from yesterday: With only two solar panels remaining, recharging takes longer. This evening, the battery gauge showed 50%. So I'll have to camp here at least another 4-5 sunlight hours. Which means I need to drive a little faster tomorrow to keep my shedule.

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LOG ENTRY, SOL 37

Time for another recharge. 115 kilometers to go. The landscape is changing. I'm almost continually driving upwards a slight incline, and have passed 1900 meters of altitude accourding to amospheric pressure. I can make out a mountain range up ahead, which might or might not be traversible. Getting annoyed about doing nothing else but driving slowly across desolate terrain and living in a very confined space. I miss the luxury of my hab. The recharge stops are even worse, because i've got nothing to do other than watching the Sun making it's way across the sky. Made some slight modifications to the rover, so i can charge the batteries while driving. That should cut down on the recharge duration time. Philfred out.

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Edited by SirJodelstein
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