Journalist Report – April 12th

Journalist report Sol 2 – 170412
Mathieu « Mitch » Vander Donckt
Crew Journalist and Scientist
Crew 178 – UCL to Mars

Second day on Mars. This time I wasn’t surprised at wake up – but of course still excited thinking about the day to come. I guess I got accustomed to my room. A bit cramped but we all knew that we would have to sacrifice comfort for effectiveness. Nevertheless, my personal effects on my shelf give a little warmth to the place and make it mine. The sleeping rooms of all the crew members open up on a half circular shared living room /kitchen /workroom. In a place with so much use, there is always someone. Today I found “Coach” and Elke, that we all call “Patch” now, cooking pancakes – what a delightful way to start a day on Mars! We quickly adapted to local food, composed mostly of dried meat, dried fruits, all sorts of unidentified powders, wheat flour and cereals. So, with water to rehydrate and a bit of imagination we can almost compete with the “Plat du Chef” from French restaurants, as our pineapple chicken from yesterday evening can testify.
Pancakes in the stomach, it was time to examine the package that got here yesterday by orbital convoy. It should have arrived days ago, before our arrival to prevent any delay in our tight schedule, but poor management at the Delivering Heavy Loads company deferred the shipment. The use of private companies in scientific space programs is now unavoidable, space being a place of high competition since the opening of the market a few years ago. It has its advantages, like the variety of solutions proposed for space travel and lower prices than when governmental space agencies had to take care of research and development all by themselves, but also bring its lot of difficulties. Due to the cheaper and faster trend, the reliability of those companies diminishes with time, and without news we were afraid that our package missed the connector in Mars orbit and got lost in the darkness of space – this happens more than you would know. After that it would have been a nightmare to get refunded and send another convoy – space law is complicated. But finally, we were glad to receive the last part of our equipment which was too heavy to bring in our shuttle.
With the approval of Mission Control and the arrival of the last pieces of equipment, Patch, the Crew Geologist, and myself could proceed to the first Extra Vehicular Activity. So we slipped our spacesuit on with the help of our crewmates, and felt a growing awareness of being in a very unique place at a very special time. Our first foot on Mars, prepared for years and dreamed for decades… The impatience rose even more when we got into the airlock.
Five minutes of depressurisation.
Our apparatus is ready: Patch, skillful geologist, is bringing a radar to survey the underground for a geophysical study, hoping to map the subterranean composition of Mars. As the airlock opens, we forget about everything else, like we’re in a dream. We walk to the area that we identified on our satellite map, accompanied by the encouragements of our team coming from our radio. However, the disillusion strikes hard! The spacesuits designed to protect us from the cold (-60°C outside) and solar radiations, weight hard, even in the weak gravitational field of Mars. All the systems conceived to protect us eventually seem to turn against us. We feel like in an oven, a box of lead, inescapable under sentence of death. A thought germs in my head. This is a settlement where humans are not welcome. This is a beautiful nature, full of hostility. This place is a trial of strength for our bodies and our minds.


Movie at MDRS
pancakes at MDRS
radar survey
taking soil sample
an evening at MDRS
EVA in urgency to contact

EVA Report – April 12th

Crew 178 EVA #2 report 12 APRIL 2017
Weather: sunny
Temperature: around 28°C
Location: 12S0519254 UTM 4250772, elevation: 1365 m
Duration: 90 min
Team: Elke Mergny (crew geologist), Mathieu Vander Donckt (crew journalist), Calogero Montedoro (crew biologist)
– Geophysical survey of the area with a ground penetrating radar
– Mapping of an area with the drone
– Ground penetrating radar: no data, technical problem with the survey wheel
– Success of the mapping

Sol Summary – April 12th

Crew 178 Daily Summary Report 12 APR 2017
MDRS Daily Summary Report for sol 2
Summary Title: Second EVA, preparations for other experiments and Internet fixing
Mission Status: Good
Sol Activity Summary:
“Today, we again woke up at 8 am after having enjoyed “The Martian” movie yesterday night with the whole team. In the morning, Nathalie invented the “Pancake dance” while she was cooking delicious pancakes for everyone, although her first 5 pancakes were closer to sharcoal than cake. Elke finished the setup of the last parameters for her second EVA using her ground penetrating radar. Calogero continued to configure his software applications for his geomatics EVA. At noon, we ate strange canned turkey meat and a Minestrone bear creek soup with our favorite bread, oven-cooked with love by our Crew Scientist, Mathieu. On the whole, this meal was still a pleasure. In the afternoon, the second EVA was launched under a very sunny weather reaching about 26 degrees Celsius. A fun fact about our Biohazard space suits is that they’re cloaked with an external plastic layer, allowing us to sweat like never inside. Extreme conditions are fulfilled. Quentin and Elke will try to reconstruct a Shepherd’s pie with lyophilized food for an amazing dinner tonight. After dinner, every crew member will have still hard work to finish preparing at best the next days.
Aurian d’Avernas, the Crew Commander”
Look Ahead Plan: The HughesNet technician came today to fix the parable with concrete. We identified that some laptops were automatically burning our daily Internet data with the automatic Windows updates which are very tricky to disable. We finally found the solution and tomorrow will be the first day without any Internet issue. The preparations of the crew experiments are going well. Moreover, we will send our biographies and crew photos tomorrow morning without exception.
Anomalies in work: The wheel of the ground penetrating radar does not work properly. It should be fixed by a phone call to the company of this material tomorrow morning by our Crew Geologist.
Weather: Clear sky and very sunny.
Crew Physical Status: Very good.
EVA: 1 km at the North of the Hab.
Reports to be file: EVA #2 report + Journalist report + Engineer report + Daily Summary Report
Support Requested: none