Journalist Report – January 7th

MDRS Crew 202, Journalist Report

Sol 9 – 01/07/2018

Name the space movie (or show) given the following quote. Answer at the end of the Report:

Astronauts? You mean, sit on top of a rocket and launched into space? Sounds dangerous; when do we go?

As we catapult into our second week on Mars, the crew cannot believe how fast the days have flown by! How is it possible that our time is almost over here on the Red Planet? It seems like yesterday we had just arrived as a fresh, wide eyed and bushy tailed crew. In a mere week, we are old veterans, working through the routine, a family of determined Martians still bent on completing our ambitious mission goals. Making sure every day counts towards our research and our life as a Crew.

It is at this approximate half way point that we reflect on our key simulation question: Would this be done on Mars?

Mars is approximately one tenth the mass of Earth and one third the gravity. Unfortunately, science has not found a way to simulate different celestial body gravities for long durations of time. Get on it science. It takes from 6 to 8 months to travel to Mars from Earth when Mars is near its closest point to Earth (~55 million km away) which occurs every two years. Imagine how Mark Watney felt while waiting for his Crew to make the journey all the way back to Earth and circle back around to rescue him from Mars! We are very thankful to have more than potatoes in our pantry. This equates to a maximum of a 22 minute delay in communication one way, 44 minutes round trip to send a message and receive a response. This will force future Martians to be heavily independent when it comes to all aspects of their life including habitat maintenance, research, and emergency procedures. Here on Mars Desert Research Station, we are given a two hour communication window with our “CapCom”, with whom we transmit reports about the state of our campus, extra-vehicular activity requests, and summaries of our research progress. This is all performed through email and is received spontaneously during these two hours. Not quite like Mars, but we do our best to simulate the communication by having limited internet (~500 MB per day) and transmitting text messages similar to those that would be used on Mars. Mars is desolate, isolated, and magnificent. Check, check, and check. While we cannot simulate the gravity, and the communication isn’t a perfect fidelity, we feel we have truly experienced as close to on Mars as we could achieve in our 2 week mission and could not be more excited about what our last week holds.

While confined in a small space with six people, in a sitcom-like environment, there are several lifestyle debates that have risen from the crew. Two of which we would like to invite our fellow Earthlings to weigh in on: Which way does the toilet paper hang? What is defined as a nap? These seem fairly trivial – It depends on the person. No. Not in this crew. These have been heated topics for several days and we are determined to debate it until we perish and turn to dust with our gravestones eternally making our arguments.

On the toilet paper front, everyone is an over the roll hanger expect our Crew Engineer. She prefers an under orientation… which is wrong. This has turned into a war of flipping the toiler paper back and forth in the small, motorhome sized bathroom for the duration of our mission.

Naps are common on Mars because it is exhausting being a Martian! Carrying 20 lbs backpacks on 2-3 hour extra-vehicular activities typically leads to crashing on the couches in the living area to recharge before continuing the research projects or preparing to cook dinner. Our Crew Engineer has been known to take 2-3 hour naps after strenuous activity. Our Executive Officer feels this is far too long to be defined as a “nap” and considers this “falling asleep”. The Commander has sided with the Executive Officer. The Geologist and Journalist are on the side of the Crew Engineer, defining naps as sleeping during the day for any duration of time. Our Health & Safety Officer is usually asleep during these debates.

We are in a stale mate on both fronts, and would like to hear Earth’s opinion. Should future Martians place their toilet paper over or under? How should naps be defined in the Martian schedule?

Movie (or Show) Answer: The Right Stuff