Journalist Report – December 6th

Crew 184 Journalist Report

Willie Schumann

06 December 2017

Title                            Climbing Higher

Narrative                  Day number five on Mars and we are still alive and happy to be here. While it continues to be quite chilly in the morning our water pipes didn’t freeze last night. Learning from yesterday we checked the pump first thing after waking up and while the hab tank filled up I looked around and saw into very content faces of relieved Marsonauts. The Generator is still a bit shaky, but our solar panels work great and as long as the sun is shining we should be fine.

We were planning to continue our Matryoshka project today on an EVA and we wanted to start quite early. That’s why we had an early lunch around ten o’clock. As I was assigned with commander Horn and Officers Trivedi and Hunt to join the exploration team I was also free of my daily cooking duties.

That gave me the opportunity to film First Officer Randazzo preparing delicious chicken noodle soup and mashed potatoes. This was particularly interesting for me, because it was a classic case of dried space food. We have milk powder, which we mix up with water. Just imagine the insane amount of milk we would have to fly up into space, matching our demand. It would probably smarter to ship a couple of space cows up to the red planet, but we would need their food… don’t get me started. This milk is essential for our breakfast cereal and it surely made our mashed potatoes creamy like on earth.

We really get our groove on with our EVA preparations. This time we pre-checked our radios and used the time efficiently in the pre-breathing chamber to get our suits and helmets on. Today I tried a new helmet, I had especially made on earth to meet my needs for filming and photographing, as it is important to have my analogue cameras close to my eye for focusing. It is a combination of a newly developed pressure resistant head and a 180° crystal face shield, which looks like a giant scuba mask. There were some issues with it during the EVA, but I will come back to that later.

So we drove out much quicker, then in the last EVA’s and took a rover and two ATV’s. Yesterday I made already some cool stabilized GoPro shots, heading into the Martian landscape. We repeated these shots today and I especially instructed the ATV driver to drive really close to the camera I had applied at the rear of our rover. It worked and they shots looked even more cinematic today.

For the geologists Matryoshka project of Science Officer Trivedi we climbed a few hills at different locations with interesting rock formations. The sun was up and we had some great frames with impressive shadows. My helmet turned a bit foggy, so a lot of my filming was a bit of a blind flight. But with the experience of the last days I managed quite well to deliver good shots. We stumbled about a stone formation, that almost looked like a bone of a giant creature. We could imagine it was a fossil of an early Martian life form. But maybe it is also our earthly expectation we project on Mars.

Being on these hills gave us a great overview on the territory we had covered in the first days we spent on the new planet. It was a quite majestic moment. Unfortunately one of my analogue cameras fell down twice today, opened up and also my settings were temporarily messed up. I will only know in a few weeks, if the pictures came out well. So the mission is to take further pictures, never to stop and to be sure to have enough material to show to the folks on the mother planet.

We came home a bit prematurely and were surprised to detect a little water leak just below our air lock chamber. We analyzed the scene and tried to analyze the source of the leak. Was it melted ice connected with the frozen pipes yesterday?     We later consulted mission control and were assured it is probably our kitchen sink, which shouldn’t bother us too much. And the Martian ground can hold a little bit more water for sure.

Back to the new helmet. Unfortunately it couldn’t be perfected for the Martian environment, just yet. At the moment breathing causes still moisture in the helmet, which makes it hard to see completely through the face shield. With the assistance of Health and Safety Officer Sczepaniak we applied some improvements to the breathing mechanism and first tests were very promising. I will test it in the field tomorrow. There are new perfect solutions, but I am happy, that my team is very good in troubleshooting. After all, a Mars mission is work in progress.

Yesterday night Commander Horn conducted a board game night, which was super fun. Crew Engineer Hunt showed unexpected winning potential, but I was happy with my performance as well. I did pretty well in an American trivia quiz, just my dice throwing skills leave much room for improvement. Evenings like these are very important for crew moral, which is still intact and promising for the days to come. Inline image 1

Personal Logbook             It was a good day. I am less exhausted today, even though it was equally tough on today’s EVA compared to yesterdays. Maybe I am getting used to the Martian life circumstances. Maybe I am evolving quicker than I thought.

I had to speak out on our EVA today to the rest of the crew. In lack of a crew camera for pictures of the geological surface I was constantly asked to take pictures of rocks. I can do that, but most of the time I am busy documenting every move of the crew. Doing these scientific shots can much easier be achieved by an additional camera of the respective specialist officer. Everybody agreed and I was happy, that my role is understood, and so I can continue my storytelling.

As I didn’t take a shaver with me I am growing an impressive beard at the moment. Maybe it will turn Hemingwayish beard in a few days. That would be a first for me, but very appropriate for an adventurer

Thank you very much for your help and attention.

Willie Schumann, Journalist, Crew 184