Ben Durkee, Crew 218 Journalist
Martians like dehydrated sweet potato!
We awoke this morning to find our trap had worked spectacularly and we had captured the
strawberry bandit. I expected to find something resembling the R.O.U.S.’s (Rodents of
Unusual Size) from the Princess Bride, but the creature was more closely reminiscent of
an Earth field mouse. We attempted to communicate, but the language barrier was too
high to surmount. Alas, maybe we will have more luck in the future with a better
understanding of these creatures (or more sweet potatoes).
Our EVA’s (Extra-Vehicular Activities) today were a hybrid of training and tradition.
We split into a team of three for the first expedition (myself, Cesare and Shefali) and
then Pat and LuzMa paired up for the second. Our task: take the rovers about half a mile
out to Marble Ritual for each crew member to place a pebble in the customary pebble
baskets, as 200 crews have done before us.
5 minutes feels like an eternity in the airlock. Given our lack of internet
connectivity, we can’t really discuss current events. And rock-paper-scissors only
gets you so far. Once we had fully depressurized, we emerged from the Hab and retrieved
our rovers. Shefali and Cesare led the way in Curiosity, and I brought up the rear with
After completing the ceremonial goal of our EVA, we began exploring the surrounding
terrain to build familiarity with the EVA suits. We climbed 60 feet up a nearby hill,
and the view upon cresting it was breathtaking. I only mean that figuratively, thank
goodness. The suits may be a bulky, back-breaking burden, but they do a great job of
maintaining our life support (so I have no place to complain).
I led the charge back to the Hab, after which began the 5 minutes of fun. Once we had
re-pressurized and shed our airtight skin, Pat and LuzMa suited up and set off to follow
in our footsteps. I monitored their journey from the Hab via radio, and we all found
consolation in listening to them struggle with the same things we struggled with.
The dynamic duo returned and we all remained confined to the Hab for the remainder of
the day. After separating to do our individual tasks, some daylight still endured. While
most of the crew relaxed and napped, Pat and I set up Super Smash Brothers for some
future team bonding. Nothing provides more catharsis than digitally beating the stuffing
out of each other.
There seems to be an inclement Martian front on the way that will prohibit us from EVA,
so we are very glad we got to stretch our legs today. We may be exclusively breathing
Hab air for the next few days…