Journalist Report – December 23rd

Sol 05
Journalist Report
Authored by Anselm Wiercioch

The main event of the day (other than fresh scones) was the second
major EVA to the area we’ve named the “dinosaur quarry.” There are a
lot of interesting geological formations there that resemble dinosaur
bones. The area seems like it may have been a small reservoir at some
point, but is obviously long since dried up. It’s about 15 minutes
away on our individual electric rovers. A cold, bumpy ride but not too
bad. Some insulation lessons were learned from the first expedition on
Sol 03. After a long exploration of the quarry area, the crew
regrouped in the hab. A few showers and some greenhab work rounded out
the majority of the day.

The weather was pretty typical today – bland skies and lots of cold. A
small amount of precipitation, but not much stuck. Still too little
data to draw conclusions about that. We shouldn’t see much snow at
these latitiudes. I mean we’re hardly equatorial, but we’re a ways
from the pole.. Maybe the wind currents are strong enough to scape
some ice off and carry it all the way down? *shrug* Jury’s still out
on that.

Speaking of the cold, our greenhab progress is.. slow. We suspect some
small leaks in the insulation that are causing the heating system to
overload and shut down until things are near freezing, then snap back
on full blast. Back and forth. We attempted to seal some of the gaps
we found, but one of our mission commanders back home told us to
postpone repairs. Not sure yet how that will affect our research.
Hopefully some lettuce can last a few light frosts.. On the other
hand, all germination attempts are going well. We’ve got red and green
oak lettuce, raddish, and some mysterious unlabelled seeds that we
found stowed away in the hab.. I’ll let the biologists talk about that
more though. I’ll just complain about the weather instead.

I guess I shouldn’t be complaining about snow, really. Some of the
crew came from dry desert areas on earth and have never had snow for
the holidays. Chrismas is coming up soon (we haven’t been here long
enough for the time difference to throw us off yet – the first Martian
Christmas will still be on Earth’s Dec 25.) We all brought small gifts
for a white elephant exchange and are trying to decide on a fancy meal
to celebrate. I’m sure we’ll think of something interesting. We’ve got
a creative group.

Despite minimal coffee intake (gotta save water, ya know?), a lot of
freeze dried food, rare showers, intermittent wifi, etc., crew morale
is holding strong. Personality is obviously a major concern in the
astronaut selection process – technical skills are a dime a dozen, but
teams that work well under stress are more difficult to find. I have
high hopes for the coming week. We all bring very different attributes
to the table, but ones that fit together and are greater than the sum
of their parts.

Of course, even with the crew getting along well, I’m still more than
happy to complain. A massage and a shower would really hit the spot.
It’s only been a few days, but those helmets are heavy and hard on the
shoulders and We’re building up some considerable stank. We don’t have
those ISS goon’s luxurious air filtering system or low gravity to keep
things cleanly. Maybe we should just take turns snapping the airlock
open for half a second each and freeze drying all the bacteria off of
us.. Super dangerous. Not doing that.. At least for another 3 days..