Recently I had a strange dream. It was wonderful, but not what I wanted. When I awoke I resented the dream, and wished that in it I'd been in a spacecraft in orbit of Pluto, preparing our equipment to go down. That was the dream I wanted to have.
No matter: some day, someone will listen to this as they prepare to descend to the surface of an unexplored planet.
Sunday, April 17, 2011
Nitrogen, which we breathe more of here on Earth than oxygen, is normally dissolved in the body's tissues. For various reasons, it collects into bubbles when one moves from a higher to a lower pressure, as in ascending from deep under the surface of the ocean, or going high into the atmosphere. 'The Bends' is the result of these bubbles of nitrogen having varied effects on the nervous system and the brain as they try to escape the body. Both in diving and in high-altitude aviation, 'the bends' are the result of too-rapid decompression, or, too-rapid movement from the higher-pressure to the lower-pressure environment. Learning this, and working with it while graduating to mixed-gas, deeper diving, has enormously helped my appreciation for the phenomenon as it will condition the plans for my high-altitude balloon flights.
Above, photos from this weekend's dives; one shows me in silhouette, coming up out of the ocean with my main tank on my back and my reserve slung across my chest; another is a mosaic of images from video footage underwater; another shows me back on land, about to unclutter myself from nearly 200lb of gear; another shows my dive rig from various angles as Todd and I surfaced and came out of the water.
Sunday, April 10, 2011
Solved one leak with a slight adjustment to the neck interface, and brought the suit up to a good pressure of 3psi, which would allow me to survive at 50,000 feet if I am breathing pure oxygen, which is what I plan to do. Quite a thrill! Still, a slow leak that I have yet to find didn't allow maintaining that pressure for too long, so I still have my work cut out. I have to start vacuuming up all foreign objects before and after all work sessions now, as a single metal filing out of place could cause a leak. It becomes starkly clear why pressure suit production takes place in a 'clean room' environment, with nary a speck or dustball permitted! Can I seal off part of the condo to allow this? Is that needed? Something like it might be--though I have to remember that suits built in the 1930's did not use this technique, and did function--so that is a new project to work up, if only done by sealing off the work area with a temporary partition and a good vacuum cleaning system, and just keeping better care of my work environment.
In the photos above I am showing just how lightweight the suit is, and checking out the dorsal portion of the neck seal.
Saturday, April 9, 2011
Holding 2psi, though I need to maintain 3psi to be safe, and there's a pinhole leak to find. That's done by closing the windows, turning off all things that make sounds, and listening intently all across the suit for the leak; once I hear it, I pinpoint the location by putting my face right up to the fabric and letting the escaping air blow across my cheeks or lips; they're the only sensors I have that are sensitive to pick up the minute leak. Then apply a patch (sounds scary, but the patching procedure is excellent and has worked to date) and re-pressurize. The picture is rather dark, but I don't have time to mess with adjusting it, and it's just a snapshot.