Georgia Tech crews at MDRS have used a HAM radio setup for six previous rotations. Crew 101 continues the use of the system to improve EVA efficiency and to study the range of communication of the equipment in the Mars-like enviroment of MDRS. EVA 7 on March 18, 2011 was a range testing expedition along the main trail next to the hab.
Comms checks were planned to occur about every three minutes. Once the voice quality becomes greatly reduced, GPS coordinates were to be taken at sample spots. Clear main road communications were maintained to about a half mile north of Olympus Mons. Further along the road, hab transmissions could still reach the crew members on EVA, but they could not achieve transmissions directly to the hab. However, by climbing nearby hills, transmissions from the field could be recieved by the hab. The first location this was accomplished was at 12 N 0518504 4252834. Unfortunately, the GPS lost power after the first reading, but the crew continued to gather rough performance data for the rest of the trail.
As the trail continues, it increases in elevation and eventually surpasses the altitude of the tranceiver on Radio Ridge. Two way road communication was never re-established, but the climbing nearby hills usually allowed consistant communications, even with large geographic features between the crew and the repeater. However, this means in relatively flat areas, EVA crews are incapable of transmitting to the hab. Hab transmissions to the EVA crew were recieved with quite reasonable strength and clarity all the way to Cow Dung Resivoir, which the EVA crew estimated to be about 3 miles from the hab. At this point, the EVA crew was unable to transmit to the hab, but they were unable to reach a hill top to transmit from. The closest proven transmission point was about a quarter mile away.