Ben Durkee, Crew 218 Journalist
The Roaring Twenties: Episode Two
Happy New Year, all! It will be very interesting to see what Earth is like in the new decade when we head back a few days from now. Are there flying cars? Jetpacks? Can we speak Dolphin yet? The
possibilities are endless!
Meanwhile, we are having a blast one planet farther from the sun! We hosted the two MDRS assistant directors and together indulged in a wonderful meal courtesy of Chef Cesare. Streamers were popped, games were played, raucous laughter was shared, but most importantly we partook in some juicy controversy.
Favorite movies were discussed (good and bad), alongside whether or not water is wet, which way the toilet paper roll should hang, how the “g” in “gif” is pronounced, and many more that got progressively stranger as midnight approached. As far as I’m concerned, nothing brings people together quite like witty banter and inconsequential conflict. We entered the new year with stronger friendships, streamer debris all over the Hab, mild headaches from the paper trumpets, and smiles on our faces.
The only downside of New Year’s Night is waking up at the regular time the next morning. Our wake-up train chugged a little slower today as Sol 10 came to fruition. Double digits! Two calendar-based milestones today; the stars truly aligned. We made up for our lack of energy with a breakfast of biscuits and gravy, the recipe for which was sent from Earth by a friendly Mars veteran.
After devouring the edible southern hospitality, our hive was back to full operational capacity and buzzing to prepare Pat and Cesare for our 8th EVA of the mission. They finagled their EVA suits into our loyal rovers and took them beyond range of the Hab’s communication capability. The sun crawled across the cloudy Martian sky and soon enough they were back with plentiful geological data and samples. We were gracious enough to let them and their new pet rocks back in the airlock, which proved to be a mistake as the coveted Nutella supply seemed to drastically deplete with their re-entry.
To recharge the rovers and ourselves, we all ate lunch and recapped the EVA. After a short break, it was time for the second EVA of the day, featuring LuzMa, Shefali, and yours truly. We strictly adhered to Shefali’s new EVA checklist (likely inspired by the infamous shoe incident) and were outside in record time. We saddled up our rovers only to find that they were still tired from lugging the other guys and their equipment.
Unfortunately the recent sustained Martian cold has been hugely detrimental to the rover batteries. They now discharge rapidly and inconsistently, and recharge at a snail’s pace. Too bad it couldn’t have been vice versa – I guess that old adage about batteries lasting longer after refrigeration might not be valid on Mars. Myth busted. We rolled with the punches and turned our roving EVA into a walking EVA around the Hab. We gathered what data we could (redundant data is far better than no data!) and enjoyed the snowy walk back home together. Although it was a bit disappointing, Mars is a fickle creature and we must do the best we can in spite of variables beyond our control.
Speaking of which, the consistent negative temperatures are still preventing our pipes from thawing. We now consider our water assembly line a charming team-building exercise, so we put on some tunes and got to bucketing. Faster than ever, we had the loft tank back to full. Plenty of water for drinking, dinner, dishes, and desperately – showers. We may or may not have a filming crew flying in from Earth tomorrow, and we gotta look (and smell) good for the cameras!
As crew journalist, these guys are kinda threatening my job security. But on the other hand, this could be my big break!