Journalist Report – December 20th

Journalist Report
Ben Durkee, Crew 236 Journalist

Sol 01

A crew’s first day on Mars is a huge milestone. Not just for them and their list of first date talking points, but for the scientific community as a whole. A day on Mars is an infinite data set of cosmic and psychological information. The latter is the most fascinating, especially with this crew.

And [Sol 01] is the gun that starts the race. A sunrise on a new day on a new crew on a new planet ushers in a sea of new potential discoveries, friendships, and data sets. So how did it begin for Crew 236?

Absolutely frigid.

I mean I was covered head to toe in goosebumps, and I didn’t even know you *could* get goosebumps on your head. The ensemble sound of the "2001: A Space Odyssey" song (you know the one) crescendo’d through everyone’s doors ((and my lack thereof)) and woke all who were not already awake from the human popsicling process.

Luckily, turning the heater off and back on again periodically seems to do the trick. Who would’ve thought that that strategy still works on Mars. We may have to take shifts or MacGyver some sort of switch-flipping apparatus to keep it going through the cold, unforgiving nights. Until then, I suppose we’re getting the full "cryosleep" experience!

After warming ourselves externally with the space heater and internally with dubious Mars hot chocolate, we launched into our day like a well-oiled machine. A gorgeous sunrise, a hearty breakfast, and a thorough Extravehicular Activity (EVA) prep; and before we knew it, it was time to embark on our first excursion outside the confines of the Habitat.

We separated into two groups and tackled an age-old tradition: Marble Ritual. One group goes on EVA and each individual places a rock into a particular basket located in a clearing not too far from the Habitat. Meanwhile, the remaining group can babysit the basket boys from the comfort of the Hab couch. A perfect system for a first EVA, if you ask me.

It’s been a few hours since then – dinner has elapsed as well, and the time for reflection has snuck up on me in the most familiar way. This ain’t my first rodeo aboard the MDRS, I was in a similar position two years ago. And I promised myself this time around I’d be much more proactive about getting the journalist reports done in a timely manner. But, alas, here we are.

The introspection just doesn’t flow the same without the impending threat of time itself, y’know?

Being here again, I don’t feel like I’ve made it. I don’t feel like a pro, or a veteran, or a college graduate, or a skilled engineer. I feel humbled – like I’m back at square one and I have to prove my mettle all over again.

I closed my eyes an ignorant college kid and opened them aboard the world’s most heavily-engineered sardine can, surrounded by people way smarter than me. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

But some of them still don’t know which way to put a toilet paper roll? Seriously, what’s up with that???