Title: Mars hits back
Author: Izabela Shopova, Crew Journalist
Another gold and blood sunrise. Mars is trying so hard to win our hearts over. The alien landscape with its breathtaking beauty is slowly getting under our skin, just as the martian dust is making itself at home in our nostrils, ears and hair.
The crew slept well for the whole night – we are finally getting over the jetlag and the adrenalin rush of the first days, and adjusting to our martian home away from home.
Today is the 8th day since we all left our respective homes and hit the road. We have been away from family and loved ones for a full week now and we are starting to feel it. Last night the conversations revolved around our personal life. Photos of partners, family and pets were shared, and funny stories were told. Mars is starting to feel real now.
We appear to have established some routines of our own. Like a family, we always gather around the table for breakfast, even if not everyone eats. SHO checks how everyone feels, we chat for a bit and then we go over our plans for the day, confirming everyone’s responsibilities, who is cooking, who goes on EVA and what other projects we need to work on. Dinner is another time when we get together and once again enjoy a shared meal and a lively conversation, as we discuss the lessons learned and our plans for the next day.
Our morning EVA was going really well today, we felt calm and confident, following our procedures, ticking EVA objectives on the way and generally enjoying the feeling that our crew works like a well-oiled machine when suddenly a disaster struck. Mars hit back. “Opportunity” overheated and stopped, flashing an angry, bright red light on its dashboard.
The incident happened while we were out of radio contact with the Hub, so after two unsuccessful attempts to restart the engine we decided to abandon the rover on the road and return to the Hab early, prioritizing the crew’s health and safety over the vehicle recovery.
“Opportunity was rescued by the outpost team a bit later and upon reconsidering our options and possible responses to the emergency situation, we all agreed that abandoning the rover while we still had time to make additional rescue attempts was probably an error. And potentially a costly one on Mars. The Red Planet taught us another valuable lesson. The crew spent the afternoon reconstructing and studying the details of the EVA, considering the different options and the lessons learned, as well as planning objectives for the rest of the mission. Out here, on the Red Planet, we learn something new and valuable everyday. Mars tests and challenges us, helping us to learn and grow.
Today was no exception.