Journalist Report – January 10th

[Sol 10] [The
Lost Astronaut]

The day began with our usual order of activities – yoga and breakfast followed by EVA prep. The purpose of this EVA was a dedicated test of the radio navigation experiment. But unlike the previous tests, the astronaut using the antenna would have their vision restricted to only their immediate area by a cardboard visor strapped to their helmet. This, combined with the flat lighting of the gloomy sky, meant there was no possibility of using visual cues to return to the hab. Furthermore, the antenna would not be in the hands of her designer, but the crew’s greenhab scientist, Mark Gee, who possessed no previous experience using the antenna. It was out closest simulation yet of a real lost astronaut imperiled by low-visibility conditions.

Due to the risk of precipitation in the morning, the EVA team did not depart until slightly past noon when the weather began to stabilize. Cesare Guariniello and Melanie Grande supported Mark on EVA (i.e. ensured he wouldn’t accidentally walk off a cliff) and led him on foot to the east until he was thoroughly disoriented. At 1 pm, we switched on the habitat’s navigation beacon. Thirty minutes later, the EVA team emerged from behind a distant ridge within sight of the habitat. Melanie and Cesare later reported that they struggled to keep up with Mark as he aggressively chased the signal back to the hab. But before the test could proceed to completion, a freezing Martian snow began trickling from the skies. By mission rule the team was forced to abort and return immediately.

The team made use of the extra time to relax and prepare for an evening teleconference with the Purdue chapter of the Mars Society. It went splendidly. Since then, Mark has been cross pollinating plants in the greenhab, and Sam Albert, the health and safety officer, made preparations to take additional microbial samples tomorrow. The rest of us are gearing up for another test of the navigation antenna soon.

Justin Mansell, MDRS Crew 186 Journalist

P.S. Photos attached. Photo of the day: 10Jan2018 Preparing the lost astronaut.jpg