Journalist Report – February 18th

Journalist report, 02/18/17 – Sol 6: Aborted EVA.

Today’s EVA was supposed to be short. We had to check the seismometer, to make sure that it didn’t move yesterday because of the wind, and then to collect its data. We were not able to use the balloon, because of the wind and the possibility of rain, so that we planned to explore a new area, and to take ‘official’ pictures, with flags and banners. I was going out along with Louis, as EVA leader, Xavier and Mouadh.

For the first time, we used two ATVs, along with a rover. After having reached the seismometer, we quickly saw it hadn’t moved. The panels we put over it must have done a great job yesterday. We picked up the USB key containing our seismic data, and left. This is when the first problem showed up: Xavier’s headband went down to his eye, making him almost blind. Of course, it seems trivial, but back then, we had no solution to help him, and having a headband is nearly essential, to keep our earplug in place. He tried to rub on the sides of his helmet, with no result. It was not too dangerous already, so that we kept going, I just had to take the wheel on the rover.

The weather was more and more cloudy, but there was no rain at the time. We kept going on the main road, to reach the canyon we were supposed to visit. After ten minutes, we stopped, cows were near the point where we had to go. We had to take a decision. Louis took it, briefly, we will head back, and find another place. Once again, the problem wasn’t that simple. Walk next to a few cows acting as if they were not there, with our suits and a half blind man could put us in a tough spot if cows decided to join us… We had nothing essential to do here, that is what we stepped back. Rain was coming slowly, and fog accumulating on our glass because of humidity. We tried to climb a hill on our way back to track potential future EVA locations, but fog was so handicapping for everyone that we just decided to go back to the base.

It was kind of a disappointment, because we remained no more than one hour outside, but it taught us something important. We have to react quickly in those situations, and stick to the leader’s order, in order not to put us in a difficult spot. At the same time, in the hab, the first sprout of lettuce showed up in our indoor vegetable garden Vegidair, two days after having been seeded, while Simon, Arthur and Xavier tried to fix up our broken radios.

Tomorrow, for the first time a junior crew member, Simon will lead us an EVA, in which we will test our radio system, hoping it happen better.


Louis MANGIN, crew journalist MDRS 175