Crew 184 Journalist Report
15 December 2017
Title Singing the Mars Blues
Narrative We arrived almost two weeks ago on the red planet and things really start to align. The procedures in the habitat are very natural to us and our days consist of tasks and rituals and keep us busy. Our preparations for the EVA have become faster and more efficient every day. We now detect malfunctions of the equipment way before they become crucial and are prepared for any kind of circumstances.
Therefore it is a pity that today was our last EVA for a long time. There are other tasks, that are waiting for us in the weeks to come and the weather on Mars is supposed to become more severe and will keep us from further explorations. Surely the EVA’s were the highlights thus far for us on this new planet, but I am confident, that we will soon have the chance to explore the world outside of our habitat even more intense.
But there was no time for regrets, we got our Marsonaut Mojo on and were poised to enjoy our trip to the Martian surface today. Commander Horn and Science Officer Trivedi were leading the way to the Blue Hills today and we relied once again on our trustful rover Deimos. The sky was clear of clouds and the temperatures were really welcoming to us humans, as we like it rather a bit warmer.
Most of our roads very flat and had little elevation. We passed white salt-plains and always had the Blue Hills in our sight. Although it took as a little longer to reach our destination, we were always on top of our schedule. The Blue Hills marked the seventh and last location for Officer Trivedis Matryoshka project and brought a temporary halt to his scientific explorations on Mars.
When we reached our destination he quickly selected four designated excavation sites for geological stone probes and so we proceeded to collect samples. As a picture creator I can already read my fellow crewmembers well and have a feeling how they move and what their next step might be. Still it is difficult to catch up with them, because they have their scientific agenda they have to meet and there is little time for extra shots.
I find it really impressive that we managed to stretch to almost every corner of the Martian terrain that is accessible for us at the moment. I think in the next weeks and months we can work out an extensive plan how to go beyond the borders that are determine our existence on the red planet. I am very hopeful for this to happen.
On our way back Deimos proved to be a real hero. As our parking position at the Blue Hills was a bit wobbly I was pulling the hand break to secure the vehicle. When we started our way back home Trivedi and me forgot about this security action and drove on with the break in use. In a short span of maybe about five minutes our battery was drained from 80% to approximately 45%. Fortunately we discovered the decline early enough and put the break down.
From that point onwards it was a race with time. We were almost at the furthest point away from our habitat, than ever before and with the lowest account of energy. There was no other strategy than to try to get as far as possible and then to access the situation anew. With every mile the battery dropped lower and lower.
Even though we reached the main Cow Dung Road soon enough elevation became bigger and bigger challenges. I exited the rover and tried to push it over the little hills in the road. We were determined to get home, even if it would have meant, that we have to push Deimos home. All other rescue plans would have been to time consuming and would include too much communication with mission control.
By now we were really slow and hoped every turn around a hill would give view to our habitat. It still took an eternity but then we saw it and boy, coming home was never sweeter then today.
Effectively we were only five minutes behind our planned return to the base and finally we plugged in Deimos and gave our little hero his well-deserved rest. He is charged now with the finest batch of energy Mars has to offer.
Personal Logbook I had the privilege to be on every single EVA in the past two weeks and it was a hell of a ride. Even though the intensity of wearing the suit and chasing after my protagonists were draining my energy at times the adrenaline of creating great pictures kept me going. I was always busy with the next picture opportunity ahead, preparations for the various cameras and stowing the equipment away. It was always a race with time and the caution not to leave anything behind. It was a constant battle between the things I wanted and the things that were possible, a real time evaluation of the respective situations at any given moment. It was one of the most challenging working environments of my life and one of the most beautiful and meaningful ones.
Thank you very much for your help and attention.
Willie Schumann, Journalist, Crew 184