Authors: Benjamin Auzou, Journalist and Cerise Cuny, HSO & Crew Biologist
For our first day back on Earth, we woke up earlier than during the whole mission for a precise goal: enjoy the sunrise on the desert landscape from Hab Ridge. The first glow started to draw the reliefs all around us, and when the first sun’s ray emerged from the horizon line, a giant smile appeared on our faces: Earth called us back, and we are definitely back!
After the sunrise, Norbert, Aurélien and I decided to run to Skyline Rim, this geologic beauty that raised our curiosity for the whole mission but that we couldn’t reach with the rovers and the suits. We touched the Rim and then came back to the Hab, a simple act but that created in us a feeling of freedom that was completely different from the confinement we lived in for twenty days.
Yesterday evening, we invited Atila and David, from the Mars Society support team to eat pizzas and a cake. It’s was refreshing to talk with other people than us six, and that was the same for them.
Following the advice of Atila and David, we went for an EVA at Copernicus. Driving the rovers without the suits gave us an incredible feeling of freedom. We were surprised but pleased to feel the hard blowing wind on our cheeks as we gained speed, finally driving the rovers without helmets or backpacks.
The crew walked down Copernicus highway surrounded by a lunar landscape. The crackling sound of our foot on the dry soil was kind of new to us and we embraced both those usually insignificant noises and the incredible silence of the desert.
We paused a long time on a stiff ridge in total silence, sitting on the raw grey dirt, our head tilted back to get all the warmth that the Sun rays had to offer. No words were necessary to maintain that vibrating harmony. After this divine moment, we headed down into a canyon multiplying jokes and overwhelmed with joy. We headed back to the hab enjoying our last glimpse of Mars.
In the afternoon, we welcomed Crew 207, it was very nice to see some new people and to transmit everything we have learned in the past 3 weeks.
Then with our Executive Officer Aurélien, I took the HabCar and drove to Hanksville to take water in order to refill the tank. That was a strange return to real life and earth society, we met people at the gas station, bought a bottle of soda just for the pleasure to spend a dollar, and simply just enjoyed a car drive on the road. Even if everything was less than 15 miles from us, we were definitely a million miles away from here, on Mars.