Journalist Report – January 12th

Sol 12 – Harvest

Today was our final EVA. A small team consisting of Melanie Grande (crew engineer), Sam Albert (health and safety officer), and myself, departed the habitat around 11 am and embarked on a long and bumpy drive out to Skyline Rim. We did not arrive until well past noon. What initially seemed like a row of jagged teeth along the western horizon soon grew into a towering mesa of red stone that commanded our admiration. It was a humbling vista.

Our purpose was to collect and analyze samples of shale on behalf of our geologist, Cesare Guariniello. To do so, Sam and Melanie ascended an escarpment to the layers of stone strata. Though their height was hardly even half that of the monolithic ridge, Sam reported that he was able to see all the way to the habitat. But given the long drive back, we couldn’t stay for long. By 2:30 pm we had returned to the habitat with only a short break along the way.

Meanwhile, the rest of the crew has been busy measuring the yield of Mark’s microgreens experiment. Though most of the crop was reserved for his experiment, a portion was kept for tonight’s meal. The whole team gathered early this evening to partake in the harvest of fresh radish, lettuce, dill, cilantro, and green beans. It will be the first fresh food we’ve had since the mission began. For the graduate students on the team, the wait has been even longer!

The meal will be one to savor, for it will be our last dinner in this habitat. Mission control confirms that the refueling of our ascent vehicle using in-situ resources has completed and that the vehicle registers nominal on all system checkouts. Tomorrow at noon our crew will depart the habitat, travel to the ascent vehicle, and prepare for launch at dawn on Sunday morning. It will be the culmination of our grand adventure to the Red Planet. But until then, a frenzy of cleaning and preparation awaits!

Justin Mansell, MDRS Crew 186 Journalist

P.S. Photos attached. Photo of the day: 515300_4251200 12Jan2018 Skyline Rim.jpg.
(Sorry for the huge photo, but it really is incredible. The credit goes to Melanie Grande for taking it!)