Journalist Report – November 3rd

Journalist Report 3 Nov 2021
By Brandon Barth

MDRS Crew 260 Sol 2 (11/3/21):
We all started the day with breakfast about 7:45 of cereal and powdered milk and coffee. After that we learned that we got permission to all go on an EVA this morning so everyone got suited up. With that said, it is important that there always has to be at least 2 crewmembers back at the HAB. Since Theo (Tay-oh) has to stay behind (due to a knee issue) we were planning on Atila and Shannon being there with her to cover the base. As Jen, Brandon, Katie, David, Tracy, and Adela were all driving away in the rovers, we got a call from the HAB saying that Atila was going to have to leave to get a COVID-19 test to get ready for his family trip. Commander Jen knew about this, but what she didn’t realize was that Shannon was not officially part of the crew and so didn’t count as someone staying behind with Theo. This was just a simple miscommunication, but we wanted to make sure we followed protocol as best as possible. So, we had to send one group back to stay with Theo while Jen, Brandon, Adela, and Tracy continued on to their two stops. They went to the moons area first and found some great gypsum samples and Gryphaea (devil’s toenail) all over the place. After spending some time there, they went to another stop called the Camel (not kissing camels) to look for some sandstone and blueberry samples. They found lots of sandstone but no blueberries. They then went back to the HAB and switched with the other two crewmembers who were sent back out. They jumped in the rovers with Jen again and Jed did a back-to-back EVA. Having two back-to-back EVAs like that, Jen said she would need to write that up in her report later. The first group then went back in and after some down time got the warm bread out of the bread maker and got lunch ready: Loaded mashed potatoes as part of the original plan!

After two hours, the second group got back from a successful EVA about 1pm and they actually found sandstone blueberries! The first group was not able to find any so it was great that the second group found a lot. Jen had a long day having to do two EVA’s but she did awesome as well. And at least there were no rover issues this time around.

Lunch took a while to make but it was worth it! Instead of doing mashed potatoes we ended up making Explorer pie…our own Martian version of shepherd’s pie. We didn’t have mashed potatoes so we used freeze dried potato slices with peas, corn, sausage, and ground beef (all freeze dried) and a bunch of seasoning. The wait was worth it and it was delicious! We also loved all the colors, especially the bright green peas. Not a lot of green on Mars!

After a relaxing and very pleasant lunch we all went to the science dome to clean up our rocks and do some more rock identification. It was very fun to see everyone’s samples of rocks and help each other identify what everything was. We got the rocks all cleaned up and put into little baggies and labeled them.

The next activity was to build our model rockets. The only hiccups we had with those was trouble getting some of the items glued down in the right place. The glue we had was meant for PVC pipe and so didn’t work well with some of the paper components we had to glue. But we figured it out and got all of our rockets built, decorated, named, and prepped for launch tomorrow when we are done with the Sim.

While doing the rockets in the science dome we saw a caravan of cars and vans drive by on the main road in front of the HAB. This was a little disappointing as we were still in Sim and it kind of ruined the effect. Even more strange is that they were using walkie talkies as well and happened to pick the same channel we use for outside EVAs and we could hear their conversations. It turns out it was a photography workshop who wanted to do the class out here. Shannon was able to talk with them since they didn’t have a permit to be out there doing the class and they were using our channel. Luckily, they admitted to not having a permit and apologized, but hopefully this kind of thing won’t continually happen in the future (especially after Shannon’s article that just got posted on Space.com). Besides that though, Shannon said the sets, props, and people were really cool!

Katie and Jen then got dinner prepped for us while the rest of us did some other work and did some cleaning. The dinner was absolutely fantastic! They used homemade tortillas to make a wonderful vegetarian enchilada. There’s no way to accurately describe it other than it was fantastic. I thought the explorer’s pie was good and then this was even better. After dinner was reports, cleaning, chores, and wind down time. It was such a great day on Mars!