Sol Summary – January 9th


Hello again Earth! Today’s guest writer for the Sol 8 Summary is Patrick Gray, our crew’s Green Hab Officer. Take it away Patrick!

We woke up as a team today and it truly feels like we’re settling into the Martian routine. We had a quick breakfast and debriefing about today’s research and engineering objectives before everyone jumped into their work. Our EVA was scheduled for 10AM and just before suiting up mission support notified us that they would require a third crew member to join the EVA team for safety given the icy conditions. Having slightly fewer obligations today I volunteered and had one of my most epic ventures yet into the Martian hinterland.

Our objective was to the test the Frenchmen’s heads up display (HUD) – an augmented reality instrument that allows you to read GPS, elevation, and other important information just above your line of sight – like a scientific version of Google Glass. Today’s test was to establish the HUD’s accuracy in determining elevation – which meant some mountain climbing. We set out and shortly after mounting our first hill we lost sight of the Hab and radio contact with our crew – this was my first expedition that felt like true exploration. Visibility is incredible out here in the desert; from the mesa we summited you could see for dozens of miles in every direction and it was all barren, without a sign of life – human or otherwise. Two hours later we returned with the test data in hand and photos to document our route. After the EVA we melted back into what has become our daily routine, a shift to cook lunch, dive into our space nap (part of Commander Ilaria’s sleep study), and then spend the afternoon working on our individual research.

This afternoon’s various scientific investigations were interrupted by a welcome sight. After four days of water shortage, which has significantly impacted life in the HAB, our resupply probe is back with 1100 gallons of potable H2O. This resupply will last beyond our mission and well into the next crew. When in short supply it really makes one recognize how often we run through careless amounts of water for daily tasks, as simple as flushing the toilet and as seemingly innocuous as watering the garden. Our crew has proved surprisingly resilient to limited water rations but the inconvenience is constant, and running out completely has been a dark cloud over our heads for half of the mission. Another typically limitless resource that is severely constricted here is Internet. While “overuse” of Internet in the modern world doesn’t have the same environmental implications as the rash waste of water, 500 megabytes between seven crewmembers still does a good job of reminding us of the infrastructure and convenience we rely on daily for communication, productivity, and entertainment.

Thanks to Anushree, Troy, and Ilaria’s efforts and exertions (in the rain and cold) we are now fully resupplied on water and look forward to flushing the toilet and our, now luxurious sounding, three-minute showers. The team is well into the groove of Martian life, we’ve overcome a number of obstacles thrown at us by the close quarters, language barriers, andconstrained resources, and our work is progressing as planned. Mars is no joke, but we’re all looking forward to the remainder of our time exploring this unique environment.

Patrick Gray

Crew 172 – GreenHab Officer