Journalist report Sol 3 – 170413
Mathieu « Mitch » Vander Donckt
Crew Journalist and Scientist
Crew 178 – UCL to Mars
A new day begins on Mars. I can see the sun rise from the Science Dome, where the windows are the largest of the station. We have more of them in the Habitation Module, looking like boat portholes, giving a nice view of the vicinity of the base but incomparable to the Dome’s 180° panorama. The sunrise in the morning is a predictable event, witnessed hundreds of times by the majority of human beings. Nevertheless, I never came across someone who couldn’t find beauty in it.
It is a bit different on Mars. Same Sun, same phenomenon, but a different impression. We orbit further away from the centre of our solar system than our neighbour the Earth, which makes the Sun look smaller. The composition of the atmosphere is different, and it is disturbing to see how the colour of the sky can change. At the horizon, we can see a violet radiance on top of a red stony landscape. Even with those unusual details, the slow rise of the Sun still somehow feels like a familiar vision, that makes me peaceful.
After the first expedition of yesterday, it is good to have a day in the station. It was an uncommon experience that we will repeat later during our stay on Mars, but we have to prepare more the next time. We were surprised that the spacesuits brought so much restrictions, it wasn’t the same version with which we trained on Earth. Furthermore, the experiment was a failure: the radar malfunctioned when we got to the area of interest. Patch tried to identify and solve the problem when we were in the field to avoid wasting the precious time that was allowed to our expedition, without any success. In the end, we had to get back to the station exhausted and without any results. After working on it for several hours, Patch found a solution and wishes to go out again.
At midday, it was decided that she would go, with Calogero, aka “Tarzan”, Second in Command and Crew Biologist. He wants to make 3D maps of different zones of interest, using very precise probes. Beneficial to everyone, those probes will be more accurate than satellites, and we know for sure that it is hazardous to go outside without a good knowledge of our environment.
They have departed for several hours now. The wind blows harder and harder, we can feel the walls of the base shivering. No new of “Tarzan” and “Patch”. The anxiety rises in the station, as one of the major natural danger during our missions outside are the dust storms. Winds of high speed and no visibility are real life-threatening hazards. Our medium-range communication system is deficient and we lost contact with them. It will be the job of “Boss” to improve our communications by the use of relays, but he still needs to put together the devices and place them.
Still no news. We can just wait and hope for the best.
Weather: sunny and windy
Temperature: around 20°C
Location: 38.45 N 110.79W, 4255500 518500
Duration: 240 min
Team: Elke Mergny (crew geologist), Calogero Montedoro (crew biologist)
– Geophysical survey of the area with a ground penetrating radar
– Mapping of an area with the drone
– Ground penetrating radar: 3 geophysical profiles collected (area of the survey=500m²)
– Success of the mapping, even if there are some noise on the image
We started our Sol 3 with our Coach Nathalie putting on “Feeling Good – Muse” at 8AM, a good reason to wake up happily. After a common breakfast, I spent an hour to fix some software issues on two of the crew’s laptops, while our Crew Astronomer continued to deploy his equipment in the science lab: a scintillator and its control unit. In the meantime, our HSO, Nathalie, launched her physical evaluation exercises for her experiment with, again, a swinging music. At noon, our Master Chief (and Crew Astronomer) Quentin got a genius idea to prepare a lyophilized American cheese fondue, which remains quite fat but still good. Again, this meal was accompanied by our favorite bread, prepared with love by our well-known “full star” baker Math(ieu), the Crew Scientist. In the afternoon, Damien (Crew Engineer) and I continued to prepare tomorrow’s EVA by finishing some welding, program the frequencies of telecommunication devices and testing the repeaters and the sound beacons. Our HSO took charge of her regular sport group, a good way to stay dynamic for the rest of the day
Our third EVA was led by the Second in Command, Calogero, accompanied by our Crew Geologist, Elke Mergny. The sunny and very windy weather conditions allowed them to stay cool. Calogero continued to build his 3D map with a programmed drone by exploring a new area in the North, while Elke succeeded in collecting three different geophysical profiles with her ground penetrating radar, transported in the PEV.
Finally, the Crew Engineer tried to fix the faulty water heater but was stuck with an error code, an issue that will be adressed during the next CapCom. We all finished the afternoon by fulfilling our daily surveys for the “Using Analog Missions to Develop Effective Team Composition Strategies for Long Duration Space Exploration” NASA experiment.