Ben Durkee, Crew 218 Journalist
Today we awoke to find our pump to transfer water from the static tank to the loft tank was non-operational! The static tank is our outdoor water reserve containing all of our liquid life for the entire mission, whereas the loft tank is the tank in the Hab that supplies all of our utilities with water directly. In short, this anomaly meant we had to strictly ration our water usage (even more so than usual) because we only had access to the water remaining in the loft tank until we could sort this out.
It’s a sobering reminder of the hostility of our surroundings when something goes awry that threatens our Martian livelihood. Admittedly, we have slowly slipped into complacency over the past few days, and this was a stark wake-up call. We troubleshooted as much as we could without going on EVA and came up with a few theories for the malfunction. We decided to give it some time and minimize our aqua consumption in the meantime.
It’s also important for us to remember that EVA is a privilege, rather than a right. Our main goal is to survive on this deceptively deadly planet – the work of thousands back on Earth rides on our perseverance.
In light of this, the crew has taken our lack of EVA-ability in stride! We spent a lot of time today planning our GreenHab reshuffle and did some preliminary reorganization of the plants. We only made the urgent changes today – namely moving the shriveling sprouts out of the path of the heater. That unit throws out heat to the point where our snow peas were starting to look like the plant equivalent of the guy who opens the Ark of the Covenant in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Now they are happily hanging above the spices. Hopefully they turn around and recover from being blasted by the industrial-size hairdryer!
We may have committed an OSHA violation or two while working in the GreenHab, but that’s alright – there’s no rules on Mars! (Sarcasm – we are using our best judgment and staying safe, don’t worry!) However that begs the question: are there laws on Mars? If there are, it probably adheres to international maritime law. That means our Hab is technically a naval vessel! I must spend some time over the next few days coming up with a good nautical name for our trusty ship. But I digress.
Once we headed back to the Hab, we tested the pump once more and it worked with flying colors. Turns out the pipes had frozen overnight – all we needed was a little patience and a lot of sun to remedy our drought. Those little rays traveled millions upon millions of miles from the center of our solar system just to reestablish our access to drinking water. We are eternally grateful. Now to do all those dishes that we let accumulate…
The biggest bright side of our time indoors is it offers us the opportunity for heaps of crew bonding over chores, movies, and games. Synergy is critical for efficient operations in any context, and we are becoming a tight-knit bunch. When we do receive a window for EVA, we are going to be the most productive, well-oiled machine of a crew on the entire planet. In hindsight, I suppose that’s a pretty easy benchmark to reach seeing as we’re the only people on the planet… but nonetheless I’m confident that we’ll exceed expectations.
And not a moment too soon – the meteorological powers that be have predicted quite a few consecutive days of sun. Just the medicine we need to clear up the white blanket covering our landscape. If all goes well, we may be lucky enough to get some EVA time on Sunday! Regardless, priority number one remains the same: survive. We conquer this unforgiving Martian frontier to improve life for those on Earth.