Journalist Report – November 05th

Tuesday 5 Nov Sol 9
by Sandy Dance
Its Sol 9 and we are starting to think: Wow! the end of our time here is coming up (at least for Dianne and me, Guy and Andrew are continuing into the next rotation). Consequently Dianne is checking through the supplies to see if there are any food containers that are nearly empty and should be replaced.
Guy spent some time in the GreenHab helping Shannon, David and Atila water the recent plantings, and sowing herbs. It will be great to have the greenhouse going, a terrific resource for those weary of ultra low humidity and temperature, and those hankering after the colour green!
Today we started a new experiment: Dianne and Andrew beetled off in the two rovers to ‘White Moon’ (there are some really wacky place names round here) further north from our micrometeorite grid to collect gypsum and associated soil. This is so Andrew can see how much water can be baked out of the soil, which is of potential interest on Mars, where there is known to be quantities of gypsum. This would be another resource for ‘in-situ resource utilization’ there. They returned with four kilos of soil and 9 gypsum samples (which look crystaline to the untrained eye), and will trial the baking tomorrow. Exciting stuff!
This afternoon I took out the Celestron astronomical telescope from the Science Dome to see what’s involved in using it at night. This is not to be confused with the Musk solar telescope, or the remote access telescope situated somewhat off campus. The Celestron is an equatorial mount, so it needs the mount axis pointing to the North star, not something I can do in the day, but I was able to calibrate the finderscope against the local hills. Very nice piece of equipment, looking forward to using it later.