Astronomy Report – January 11th

Astronomy Report
Name: Agnieszka Pokrywka
Crew: 238
Date: 01/11/2022

MDRS ROBOTIC OBSERVATORY
Robotic Telescope Requested: Montana Learning Center
Objects Viewed: 104P Kowal, C 2019 L3 ATLAS

Problems Encountered: The observations of the two above listed comets were unsuccessful, most likely due to the cloudy weather. Both observations are resubmitted for tonight.

I’m attaching the images of the first four observations (in this order: Horse Head, Messier51, Messier101, Soul Nebula). Each one is made of the four exposure files (Red, Green, Blue, Lum) and the three calibration files (mflat). That might be influencing the quality of the images which at the moment is quite low.

MUSK OBSERVATORY
Not used.

EVA Report #11 – January 11th

Crew 238 EVA Report 11Jan2022

EVA #11

Author: Robert T. Turner

Purpose of EVA: To collect geologic, bacterial and radiation samples.

Start time:12.20

End time: 15.00

Narrative: The MDRS Crew 238 Sol 9 extra-vehicular activity (EVA) went to the region designated "Baranca Butte," Site J, using the Highway 1101 with a stop planned at "Kissing Camels Ridge E," Site I, on the return to the Hab. The surface EVA participants were:
Executive Officer / Documentarian Pedro Marcellino, Engineer Simon
Werner, and Health / Safety Officer Robert T. Turner.

They utilized rovers Curiosity and Spirit to this transition to this geological site. EVA objectives were: geological sampling, survey and possible sampling of lichen lifeforms and a photographic survey.

This EVA team was designated EVA Team One. Travel to the previously mapped site was completed without incident taking twenty minutes. Once the two rovers were stationary at the main access road, exploration commenced on foot.

This region had an appearance quite Mars-like with orange-to-light brown strata. There were many small stones equally divided between those aforementioned colors and volcanic black rocks with indentions where bubbles of subsurface gas had left their mark on the cooling
rocks. Several possible water-eroded dry stream beds were noted. The smaller stones to pebble-sized rocks presented in an array of various colors from black, blue, green, yellow, orange, red and white.

Crew member Simon Werner sampled various rock samples and took a baseline measurement of the surface radiation. Rock and stone formations at this site suggested with their visual evidence that water must have flowed at this site in the past. There was minor evidence of lichen formations on the western rock facings but not in the frequency noted from previously explored sites on this mission.

As with other sites, the panoramic vistas to the horizon yielded more Mars-like quality. One Mars-like butte, "Barainca Butte," was also photographed with a height reaching an estimated two hundred to three hundred meters, perhaps more.

Crew member Pedro Marcellino had the opportunity to complete a wide array of photographic images of this site as well as crew members, Simon Werner and Robert T. Turner, who worked in their geological assessment of the varied surface samples.

Following completion of this two-hour site survey, all crew members returned to the twin rovers and a further stop was completed at the designated "Kissing Camels Ridge E," site for additional geophotography. After this was completed the EVA Team One made a successful return to the Hab facility without incident or injury.

This ended the planned EVA for MDRS Crew 238, Sol 9, EVA Team One.

Destination: Destination: Area I

Coordinates (use UTM NAD27 CONUS): N519000 and W4247000

Participants: Turner, Werner. Marcellino

Road(s) and routes per MDRS Map: Exit on MDRS Driveway Cowdung Road, then south toward coordinates 520000N and 4247300W. Park and walk west to Baranca Butte. On return to complete a quick follow up stop at Kissing Camels located N518300N and W4249100 to recover further samples and more detailed photographic samples of geographic features.

Mode of travel: Curiosity and Opportunity.

EVA Report #11 – January 11th

Crew 238 EVA Report 11Jan2022

EVA #11

Author: Robert T. Turner

Purpose of EVA: To collect geologic, bacterial and radiation samples.

Start time:12.20

End time: 15.00

Narrative: The MDRS Crew 238 Sol 9 extra-vehicular activity (EVA) went to the region designated "Baranca Butte," Site J, using the Highway 1101 with a stop planned at "Kissing Camels Ridge E," Site I, on the return to the Hab. The surface EVA participants were:
Executive Officer / Documentarian Pedro Marcellino, Engineer Simon
Werner, and Health / Safety Officer Robert T. Turner.

They utilized rovers Curiosity and Spirit to this transition to this geological site. EVA objectives were: geological sampling, survey and possible sampling of lichen lifeforms and a photographic survey.

This EVA team was designated EVA Team One. Travel to the previously mapped site was completed without incident taking twenty minutes. Once the two rovers were stationary at the main access road, exploration commenced on foot.

This region had an appearance quite Mars-like with orange-to-light brown strata. There were many small stones equally divided between those aforementioned colors and volcanic black rocks with indentions where bubbles of subsurface gas had left their mark on the cooling
rocks. Several possible water-eroded dry stream beds were noted. The smaller stones to pebble-sized rocks presented in an array of various colors from black, blue, green, yellow, orange, red and white.

Crew member Simon Werner sampled various rock samples and took a baseline measurement of the surface radiation. Rock and stone formations at this site suggested with their visual evidence that water must have flowed at this site in the past. There was minor evidence of lichen formations on the western rock facings but not in the frequency noted from previously explored sites on this mission.

As with other sites, the panoramic vistas to the horizon yielded more Mars-like quality. One Mars-like butte, "Baranca Butte," was also photographed with a height reaching an estimated two hundred to three hundred meters, perhaps more.

Crew member Pedro Marcellino had the opportunity to complete a wide array of photographic images of this site as well as crew members, Simon Werner and Robert T. Turner, who worked in their geological assessment of the varied surface samples.

Following completion of this two-hour site survey, all crew members returned to the twin rovers and a further stop was completed at the designated "Kissing Camels Ridge E," site for additional geophotography. After this was completed the EVA Team One made a successful return to the Hab facility without incident or injury.

This ended the planned EVA for MDRS Crew 238, Sol 9, EVA Team One.

Destination: Destination: Area I

Coordinates (use UTM NAD27 CONUS): N519000 and W4247000

Participants: Turner, Werner. Marcellino

Road(s) and routes per MDRS Map: Exit on MDRS Driveway Cowdung Road, then south toward coordinates 520000N and 4247300W. Park and walk west to Baranca Butte. On return to complete a quick follow up stop at Kissing Camels located N518300N and W4249100 to recover further samples and more detailed photographic samples of geographic features.

Mode of travel: Curiosity and Opportunity.

Operations Report – January 11th

Crew 238 Operations Report 11-01-2022

SOL: 9

Name of person filing report: Simon Werner

Non-nominal systems: none

Notes on non-nominal systems: none

Spirit rover used: Yes

Hours: 150.0

Beginning charge: 100%

Ending charge: 95%

Currently charging: yes

Opportunity rover used: No

Hours: 82.6

Beginning charge: 100%

Ending charge: 100%

Currently charging: Yes

Curiosity rover used: Yes

Hours: 162.4

Beginning charge: 100%

Ending charge: 100%

Currently charging: yes

Perseverance rover used: No

Hours: 226

Beginning charge: unknown

Ending charge: 100%

Currently charging: Yes

General notes and comments: none

Summary of Hab operations:

WATER USE: 30 gallons

Water (static tank): 278

Water (loft tank): filled to 55 gallons

Water Meter: post pumping 01546579

Static to Loft Pump used – yes

Static tank pipe heater (on or off): on

Static tank heater (On or off) on

Toilet tank emptied: No

Summary of internet: nominal

Summary of suits and radios: nominal

Summary of GreenHab operations:

WATER USE: 12 gallons

Heater: On

Supplemental light: Yes

Harvest: 70g micro greens, 86g tomatoes, peppers 49g, Swiss chard 20g, rucola 13g, chives 1g

Summary of Science Dome operations: Science Dome used as “shelter room” for crew evac exercise, middle microscope was used for optical analysis of Spirulina culture.

Dual split: Off

Summary of RAM operations: RAM airlock and tunnel towards RAM used for MDRS238 fire and recovery exercise, part II, airlock cleaned after exercise.

Summary of any observatory issues: none

Summary of health and safety issues: none

Questions, concerns and requests to Mission Support:

We need some new toilet paper, paper towels and dirtbags, thank you in advance.

Supplementary Operations Report – January 11th

Supplemental Operations Report 11Jan2022

Name of person filing report: Atila Meszaros

Reason for Report: Routine

Non-nominal systems: Nothing to report

Action taken for non-nominal systems: n/a

Generator: Total run time 369.3 hours. Still being manually run at night. 20 more hours for generator maintenance, including oil filter change. Parts for maintenance are in their way.

ScienceDome Dual Split: Off

Solar—Nominal, charge controllers off at night. We are turning the generator on before the SOC reaches 70%, and if expecting cloudy days the next morning, before it reaches 80%.

Solar— VDC Last daylight hours: (information obtained from

Average 51.66

Minimum 47.7

Maximum 59.4

Notes on solar: Nothing to report

Propane Reading, station tank – 35 %

Propane Reading, director tank— 40 %

Propane Reading, intern tank— 40 %

Propane Reading, generator— 30 %

Ethanol Free Gasoline – 0 gallons/ 2 last gallons spent on the Honda. Refilled due to tomorrow

Water (Outpost tank) – 350 gallons

Perseverance rover used: No

Hours: 226.0

Beginning charge: 100

Ending charge: 100

Currently charging: Yes

Sojourner rover used: No

Hours: 166.8

Beginning charge: 100

Ending charge: 100

Currently charging: Yes

Notes on rovers: The dump stabilizer bar on Percy was removed successfully and Percy is back in action since 07 Jan.

ATV’s Used: (Honda, 350.1, 350.2, 300): none

Reason for use: n/a

Oil Added? No.

ATV Fuel Used: 0 gallons

# Hours the ATVs were Used: 0

Notes on ATVs: Oil checked on both, Honda and 350.1. Oil levels nominal.

HabCar used and why, where? Yes, for Desert Varnish, to town for a sample transport to the freezer.

CrewCar used and why, where? No

Luna used and why, where? No

Business internet: Nothing to report

General notes and comments: Nothing to report.

Campus wide inspection, if action taken, what and why? Nothing to report

Summary of general operations: Generator turned on every evening around 7-8 PM at a 70-80% SOC. The new lock for the observatory has been set to the old code. It has been decided to only use it when crews are not actively at the station. Expedition Hab car 2022 tag sticker was placed. Observatory parts, relay and control box have been taken out and shipped to Ed for repair. Observatory dome wouldn’t close after operation, it had to be left open overnight, after a helpless attempt, the dome finally closed. Peter is contacting AstroHaven to provide support for future similar events. New mouse for the observatory laptop was delivered.

Summary of Outpost operations: Trailer containing rubbish has been covered and secured with tarp for winds and rain events.

Summary of health and safety issues: Nothing to report

Journalist Report – January 10th

2022.01.10

PEDRO JOSÉ-MARCELLINO
XO/CJ, MDRS CREW #238

The life of a Mars First Responder

Mars Desert Research Station, Utah (USA) — Typically, Crew #238’s breakfasts are relaxed affairs. We start our day sitting under the golden streaks of light popping in through the round windows, and with space-themed music from my own playlist — today it was Aimee Mann’s "It’s Not", and Beach House’s "Space Song".

This morning, there were twelve (or more) of us at the table: our six crew members, four test tubes with spirulina, and two test tubes that commander Robinson and I are treating like collective entities (pronouns: they/them). We are all extremely mindful of the task given to us by Aga Pokrywka, our artist in residence and scientist-extraordinaire: take care of your own tube of spirulina, and in 72 hours we’ll see how it’s doing and if we can consume them. Plenty of protein in spirulina, she tells us.

Except, if we are to care for this spirulina as bacterial pets, can I actually eat it? I think not. (Although, if Alice-the-desert-mouse were to return, I might be distracted by her cuteness.)

Some of us are carrying our tamagochis, er, spirulinas, around our necks, the perfect combo of subtle movement, warmth, and light. Others have placed them on the Hab windows, sunbathing for a few hours, and they seem to be happy there, and doing well. Engineer Werner found a kindergarten for his tube – a surrogate if you will.

This morning, however, breakfast was not all sun, music, and spirulina. Yesterday was the halfway point in our mission, an important landmark. It was Sunday, we had a friendly visitor, and it was all great. But it’s also true that some of the anxieties of returning home, on planet Earth, are starting to seep through.

Now, perhaps that’s also related to the realization that, with only 4 more days of our rotation to go, Eng. Werner and HSO Turner had only done one emergency drill of the half a dozen they promised us. The fact that for a few days we’ve been sitting with both for emergency protocol briefings has hinted that something was incoming.

From fighting fires to EVA rescues (like yesterday’s) to a possible tunnel puncture/breach, to solar radiation, it is essential that protocols are tested in analog situations, to simulate and automate response mechanisms, to systematize and optimize protocols, and to identify human, logistical, communication, and equipment failures.

Our debriefing sessions have been precious, and we are lucky to have a veteran firefighter and an experienced paramedic among our crew. These are skills that have come in handy, and that will be crucial training for the first astronauts going there. In Cuba, every life you’ve saved as an emergency worker tops up your pension; at MDRS 238, we pay them in dehydrated mango crumble. It’s a good deal for everybody!

Anyway: back to breakfast. With a week gone and no emergency procedures to speak of, the rest of us were starting to get suspicious. So much so that, after a successful EVA rescue during The Guardian journalist’s visit, we were positive the day was not over for Werner, Turner… and certainly not for the rest of us.

On that first rescue, for the matter, artist-in-residence Pokrywka felt “ill” and passed out dramatically while walking back from the stunning labyrinth we’ve drawn in the red dirt just north of the Hab – the first labyrinth on Mars, we believe.

Upon commander Robinson’s radio prompt, a rescue party was quickly sent out and retrieved Pokrywka safe and sound. And by quickly, I do mean as quickly as you can feasibly get suited-up, open an airlock, wait five minutes, and get out into the Mars terrain. We were back to the Hab in no time, although a surprise EVA suit malfunction meant that I nearly didn’t make it “alive” (fret not: I survived. Just.). We debriefed and brainstormed solutions to the issues we spotted, particularly the possible need for more sizeable airlocks on Mars habs, and certainly the size of a rescue party. With only four of us allowed out, the exertion of three people carrying a human while wearing EVA suits is simply too much. Lesson learned.

Late at night, the commander spotted HSO Turner and Eng. Werner suddenly closed in one of the staterooms and whispering. We suspected another incoming emergency and fretted the dreaded nighttime drill we’d heard about, and the horrid fire alarm we had been briefed on.

We now have Werner down as a very credible Mars Trilogy’s Arkady Bogdanov (in Red Mars, Arkady throws these drills at the first 100 all the time, annoying 99 of them). But the reality is, whether no drill was planned at all, or whether it was aborted following our protests, it never happened. Until this morning, that is.

We had just finished breakfast. I was on my daily Braided session, part of our latency communication study, and had just typed about these annoying emergency drills, which could come anytime when the HSO announced on the walkie: "Outpost, come in. Outpost, come in. This is Hab. Please be advised the following is a Crew 238 scheduled emergency drill. I repeat: be advised that the following is Crew 238 scheduled emergency drill. Please acknowledge" [pause] "Hab, Hab!!!" [breaks] "Hab, this is HSO Turner!" [breaks, cough] "Hab, Come in!" [pause, then silence].

Kay Sandor had just gone into the restroom. Turner was in distress, or so it seemed. Werner was MIA. Upstairs, sockless Pokrywka, the commander, and I (still in my pajamas) looked at each other, rolled our eyes, and it’s possible – not confirming, nor denying – that a couple of curse words might have been uttered by one or two of us.

But we all rushed to our posts, gathering between the two airlocks. The commander kept communicating with Turner and asking Werner to come in (there was no answer). Pokrywka and I were quickly donning our exterior suits and firefighting equipment and were ordered in the tunnels – she was sockless and I, with a fire extinguisher in hand, was limping after pulling a muscle while reaching up for my suit. Turns out those hooks in the EVA room are not apt for 5’7 analog astronauts. We put the fire out with ease, though… or so I thought.

But Werner, hiding in a corner, was ready to tell us we had panicked and put out the smoke, not the fire itself. “Look for the fire”, he said. We found the artificial lamp inside the RAM, whence HSO Turner called it in: “Outpost, be advised Crew 238’s fire drill is now complete. Over.” Less than ideal, but no casualties, luckily. We’ll refresh and repeat. But gladly my pulled muscle bought the entire crew a 24-hour respite from Arkady Bogdanov over here.

Journalist Report – January 9th

2022.01.07 (Sol 5)
2022.01.08 (Sol 6)
2022.01.09 (Sol 7)

PEDRO JOSÉ-MARCELLINO
XO/CJ, MDRS CREW #238

Three days with Crew 238: of the Mars Trilogy, labyrinths, and journalists at the door

MDRS, Sol 5 (7 C)

Mars Desert Research Station, Hanksville, Utah (EUA) — We were forewarned that at some point — usually just about now — one or more of us would start to feel the stress of time passed in rotation, the pressure of the little time left, and the urgency of the many tasks yet to be fulfilled. Like clockwork.

We have been lucky to have spent a sunny week here on Mars, without any extraordinary power preservation measures. But last night Outpost called in and asked us to go into “minimum power use”. So, onward it was to “disconnect every non-essential item, including radios, suits, laptops, phones” and “unplug as much as [we] can”.

We all gathered in the dining room, i.e. our only room, and had some mood light going while I cooked my Cape Verdean katxupa dish using dehydrated ingredients. While I wasn’t quite pleased with the flavour profile (it was missing one hour stewing in red wine) the crew seemed to appreciate it nonetheless, and I appreciated them for this.

The blackout was a good occasion to discuss schedules. Our crew engineer needed to fit some fire drills in the following day’s schedule, others preferred the following day, and suddenly there was a round table on everyone’s individual projects, what each of us had achieved, and what we are still looking for.

We all acknowledged the real pressure of time gone by, admitted there was room for improvement in our strategy, and resolved internally to tackle these changes in the morning, over our typically very hearty breakfast. Insofar as a working crew goes, we function well, judging by what we know from grumpier ensembles (including that of Mars 500). And, as the day broke, we came out of the staterooms rejuvenated and ready to actively find solutions.

But personal dynamics are not the only maker of an analog. The technical and scientific characteristics of the individuals are important too, of course. In our case, we have a project portfolio touching upon diverse areas of natural and social sciences, and an equally impressive array of creative production, some of which crosses into the liminal and hybrid spaces between art and science. Matching all these collaborating (and sometimes overlapping) goals is part of my job as the XO, and it’s an ongoing challenge. But we’ve been doing alright.

Then, there is the physical element of it all. This Hollywood idea of the weightless astronaut is, of course, not what we will find on Mars. On top of that, those first missions will be tough, hands-on jobs for engineers and technicians braving the Martian cold and dust as they assemble the first habs and life support systems for everyone else. Perhaps not the sexiest work, but it reminds me of those brave folks who once built earthly infrastructure in places where there was none and where the laws of physics defy our presence.

I was reminded of all of this today because of our EVA to the magnificent Candor Chasma — a canyon so often mentioned in Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars Trilogy, that I feel like I’ve been there before. With the bumpy rover ride, the desert hiking, and a heavy suit on a warm day, plus an expected fall over an incredibly obnoxious rock, suffice to say I felt utterly exhausted. On the rover ride back, all I could think about was “it’s shower day.”

Two minutes of organic Marseille soap and hot water made me feel like a movie star.

One of those weightless astronaut movie stars.

MDRS, Sol 6 (8 C)

Mars Desert Research Station, Hanksville, Utah (EUA) — Of all the factors left to resolve before we can send crewed missions to Mars (or any other distant body, for that matter), the most complex are humans. And, if the effects of lower gravity or excessive radiation on the body have been studied, on the emotional and mental elements there is still much to be done.

On Crew 238 we chose this human aspect, in particular, the mental health and personal wellbeing of astronauts, as our common project. We have a calendar packed with activities that follow these pursuits, and we also have Dr. Kay Sandor at hand to ground us with her joy and thoughtfulness.

On the one hand, our two, sometimes three delicious group meals cooked out of unpromising supplies are amazing moments of sharing. Four among us are good, creative cooks with different styles, which is helpful when cooking for different people and accommodating different diets and tastes. We have no shortage of variety. Our commander also experiments with some baking, and Pokrywka bakes us incredible sourdough bread from some ancient Finnish starter. We are truly spoiled.

But this is what people have done for thousands of years: they break bread together, they talk, they linger. Then, we have the morning music sharing, and the evening reflections, in a format that feels so wholesome, and so profound, that it’s almost like we’re doing therapy. Finally, we have activities planned by Dr. Sandor, who is our GHO but also a certified psychotherapist. Her sessions on aromatic and medicinal plants have been a balsam. More than that, they’ve been preludes for the big one: the labyrinth.

At a youthful 74, Dr. Sandor, a member of the Labyrinth Society, is no spring chicken. So, we were determined to find her a rover-accessible spot for the first labyrinth on Mars. Sadly, when the EVA requests went out we realized our original plan would not work, and we decided to try within the campus grounds. It was not ideal. It was not as majestic as we had anticipated, but we could make it work. After an indoor meditative instruction, EVA team one, which included Dr. Sandor herself, attempted to draw a labyrinth near the Hab’s front door. This was not successful.

So, EVA team two went out on a mission, determined to make this work for the crew’s grandmother. North of the Hab, the softer red sand had some give. Engineer Werner, the commander, and I took turns drawing this ancient symbol of wisdom that Dr. Sandro, Kay, had been dreaming of for two years. We each walked it afterward, feeling our heartrates slow as we did, and enjoying the gusts of wind that we could feel
through our EVA suits.

The red dirt, the warm sunset colours, the Mars-like landscape, and MDRS right behind us ended up creating the perfect setting for our iconic photo of Mars’ Labyrinth. When the airlock opened again, Kay was waiting for us with the biggest smile, both grateful and elated, and we got all the love and hugs we needed. And then some rest.

Learning about, drawing, and walking the labyrinth has helped us get a handle on our mental state, through the same knowledge passed between human communities for thousands of years. This design — or variations thereof — has been around for time immemorial (we saw one in Hanksville the day we first arrived) in communities all over the world. We have no doubt, thus, that this will one day be drawn in the red dirt of (real) Mars.

MDRS, Sol 7 (-1 C)

Mars Desert Research Station, Hanksville, Utah (EUA) — Around the world, there are only a handful of permanent Mars and space analogs and a few temporary projects. Each has its own goals. For example, Mars 500, a multinational study in Russia, over a decade ago, tested psychological and behavioural reactions within the crew and their interactions with the outside world. In a study tackling similar themes, by Suedfeld and Steel, the authors indicate the need to create ties of affection, connection, and empathy through the maintenance of contact with loved ones insofar as possible, and perhaps even through the inclusion of other living beings (small mammals, plants, fungi, even bacteria) in these interplanetary long-hauls.

In the case of our multidisciplinary artist-in-residence and scientist Aga Prokywka, these are her bacteria and cyanobacteria, which the whole crew has been mystified about since we all got here. We call them Aga’s pets.

This need for affection and connection (even with other species) is perhaps the reason, she ventures, why some of us (myself included) have grown so fond of Alice-the-desert-mouse, the cute rodent that keeps on coming, and why we are all so curious about her sourdough, and her sprouts, and her oats, and her kombucha, and so on. We’ll get there.

We were clearly starved of contact with anyone. So, the visit of The Guardian USA journalist J. Oliver Conroy was welcomed with curiosity. Strangely, Oliver arrived on foot, alone. He knocked on the door, but anyone who’s been to MDRS will know that this is not an efficient method to announce yourself. Luckily, crew engineer Werner is perennially back and forth between the Hab and the RAM, and radio’s us to get things going.

We got our HSO kitted up to perform Oliver’s final COVID-19 antigen test and welcomed him to the airlock. We even gave him a chance while he spent his 15 minutes there. Full red-carpet treatment. It would be an hour before Outpost reached out to inform us, they couldn’t reach the journalist. We ensured them we had him and were feeding him well — Aga’s sourdough, dehydrated butter, fresh coffee, and six interesting analog astronauts.

We must have spoken for two hours, which revealed how much we missed talking to others, but also perhaps how much there was to say. When we finally got up, Commander Robinson gave him a tour of the Hab (a short one, obviously) and I sat with him to discuss our research schedule, before taking him to Kay’s domain, the GreenHab. I hadn’t been there in many days. It’s looking lovely and so well taken care of, with happy plants whom she plays music to every morning. Kay is a Texas Master Gardener, and it shows. She reminds me of my own grandma, and how grandma taught me to love plants the way Kay loves plants. I think Oliver saw that too, before I sent him off to the Science Dome with the commander and with Aga, and then to the RAM with our engineer.

Meanwhile, I was back upstairs preparing a banquet of our best-rehydrated fare, sourdough, and even water (old desert tradition: give water to your guests, even when you have little). I know I’m biased, but the lunch was delicious, and the guy let out a compliment: “I could not imagine I would eat this well.” This is when we may have made a joke about trying to ensure our source of soylent green is properly fed. He ran with it, and we all had a seriously boisterous laugh as we told him he looked definitely yummier than the last journalist they sent us.

We had just about enough time for a fresh cup of coffee, some personal banter, and a quick try of our Oculus Quest 2, part of our collaboration with Canadian aerospace startup Stardust Technologies — a first for him. It never gets old to see someone using VR for the first time. Space agencies are looking into this very technology as a possible solution to allow astronauts a sense of escape.

Then, onward with our schedule, which this afternoon included the first of the emergency drills Eng. Werner and HSO Turner have been working on for a year or more. In this case, an EVA extraction. Thankfully Aga (the smallest of us) was not the hardest to carry, but with three bodies instead of four in the rescue team, I was panting by the time we closed that airlock. Those EVA fans were just not enough for a rescue operation. But I survived. The victim also lived, and we looked good in front of our guests. We were sad to see him go.

It was late by the time we decided to try our hand at Sunday pizza. Aga’s ancient sourdough, dehydrated tomatoes, and a few greens, and we had a Martian Pizza. Was it great? No. Was it good? Maybe. Did we eat it? Yes. And, speaking of ancient bacteria, this brought about the ideal pretext for Aga to present us all with our own tubes of highly nutritious edible bacteria (spirulina) to raise for the next 3 days, before “we eat it”, she says.

We all named our spirulina tubes. Mine is a collective that goes by ‘they’, has no gender, and responds to any SciFi authors’ names: Aldos, Robinson, Asimov, Steinmüller, Shelley, Orwell. They are one. and I’m not sure I can eat them.