Crew 236 Journalist Report 23DEC2021
Ben Durkee, Crew 236 Journalist
We had our first death in the field today. It wasn’t the engineer, she had her equipment on lock and in tip-top shape. It wasn’t the geologist, he collected a plethora of gorgeous samples without interruption. It wasn’t the scientist, fortunately for his research and for the perilous drive back, which tested his acute rover piloting skills. That only leaves one.
It’s a funny thing, losing your air. At first you don’t even notice it’s thinning. And then it’s like you’re biting into something that doesn’t have nearly as much texture or flavor as you were expecting. And then the flavor’s completely gone, and you’re left utterly lacking for a moment. You can still inhale and exhale perfectly fine, but your lungs come out of the exchange empty-handed.
I made it back to the rovers with visibility failing, but it was a 25 minute drive back to the Habitat and admittedly I hadn’t been practicing my Olympic breath-holding techniques. I let out one last wisecrack, and that was that. Not a bad way to go, honestly. My family hasn’t been notified yet, so I suppose this is how they’ll find out. Surprise!
While the four (three and a half, really) of us repressurized at Hab, sweet Hab, the rest of the crew finished preparing some kind of unconventional medicinal salve. Its technical name was something along the lines of “chicken noodle soup,” though I could be misremembering. The medical realm eludes me, but it seems to have done the trick! I retreated to my hobbit hole to recuperate and took the most bomb nap of my life (lives?). Something about departing from this mortal coil really takes it outta you, I guess!
Other than my equipment-based curse rearing its ugly head in the most morbid way possible, the EVA was a success! We made it to Barainca Butte with little tribulation. We did have to ditch the rovers at a certain point, when the trail became too treacherous, but we needed the exercise anyway. The butte blessed us with picturesque landscapes, plentiful rocks of unbelievable variety, and nooks and crannies ripe for interesting thermal imaging.
One quick dissociation from reality later, and the smell of dinner suddenly permeated through the whole Hab. Pavi and Cesare prepared a phenomenal couscous & curry concoction, as conversation vanquished the hours and the weather slowly began to sour.
I now write this as the Habitat shakes and resonates, battered by the elements. The wind whistles over the dimple in our roof like a belligerent god blowing a giant jug of moonshine. Sometimes the raw power of the Martian climate just takes my breath away.
Ooh, maybe a little too soon for that one…
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