The word of the day is: Teamwork. As you may of guessed from back on Earth, everything doesn’t exactly go as planned on Mars, and you have to be able to adapt to any circumstances. I shouldn’t have to reiterate that we are currently living in a hostile, and most of the time dangerous, environment, but I will let that though marinate for a second before I continue…
We started the day bright and early after the crew woke up from our best (I say that loosely, we all crashed hard when yesterday’s CAPCOM window closed – two days of alien TV crew will do that to you) night’s sleep in a few sols. We were warm and toasty inside the Hab, but outside was not the same. It got down to a bitter low of 12 degrees last night. Long story short, the pipes between our static water tank (outside) and our loft tank (inside and the primary h2o reservoir used for toilet flushes, cleaning dishes in sink, and any other use other than drinking). We were running desperately low in our loft tank around mid-day, and when we tried pumping water from outside to in like normal – no dice.
Troy, Partick, and Anushree suited up for our daily engineering check with identifying and fixing the water problem as the primary objective of the EVA. Propane, Diesel, and Rover checks were reported nominal. The water issue was saved for last, as it eventually took the scheduled 15 minute EVA to the 90 minute mark. Warm water with salt & baking soda, with a the help of a screw driver, were the first option. This helped minimally, so hotter water was the request to the HAB. We boiled another pot of water inside, and the second option was to pour the water over the frozen pipes in hopes that hitting the problem from both inside and outside would give us a better chance for success. That did the trick and we were back in business! After our loft tank was full again, the crew were able to exhale.
Water conservation is one of the central tenets of analog mission simulations, as it mimics what actual human spaceflight missions will face when traveling through the solar system. Every drop will be recycled and reused multiple times over, just like on the International Space Station right now as it travels overhead…I will spare you what would of needed to happen if we didn’t fix the pump, but lets just say it involved bags. YAAAACK ha. Good thing we had our trusty engineer, Troy, with the rest of the crew ready to WORK THE PROBLEM.
Hot tea and grub were waiting for the EVA team when they were finally back inside. (That has become our one-two punch to get anyone back to equilibrium after being in the cold with only a few layers on.) The crew worked on their own projects and daily duties for the next couple hours – still on a high from the earlier accomplishment. A relaxing evening will be our reward. CAPCOM and dinner are coming with the knowledge that tomorrow (Sunday) will be our first “day off” since we have arrived on Mars. That means sleeping in and not “having to” work on our projects. We will be taking full advantage of that off time, and we will be busting the VR headsets out to “get away” from the Red Planet. (Thanks to Experience 360 in LA!)
Today was tough, but we got through it as a crew. This is a perfect example that shows the importance of working together. If we fail, we fail together, and damnit if we succeed – we succeed TOGETHER. In the words of THE Martian – Mark Watney: “Fuck You Mars.” Crew 172 out.