Author: Kenny Pritchard, Crew Journalist
Title: Crash Course
This morning began the same as every other so far, with a toothbrush party on the Hab’s lower deck and an exercise/meditation session on the upper deck, this time led by Kshitij. Along with the dehydrated eggs Megan cooked for the crew, we enjoyed some powdered orange juice (which mysteriously seemed to be neither orange nor juice). Breakfast was followed by our final educational session with Mission Support: rover training. A few K-turns (or W-turns) later, we were ready to go and officially enter simulation before noon! Mason set us off on the right foot when he mended a shelf for a fellow crewmate (who will remain unnamed). In his own words, Mason really went out on a high note with this repair – he unfortunately experienced sim-death shortly thereafter, by entering an open-air compartment of the Hab without protection. Simulation has been a figurative crash course in the constant battle against Martian inhospitality. It’s also been a crash course in the literal sense, as we continue to accidentally bump helmets in the tight enclosure of the airlock.
Taking the crew’s first small steps and giant leaps into the Martian wilderness, Adriana, Arly, and Madelyn drove out to Marble Ritual, a geological hotspot not far from the habitat. Although Madelyn suffered our crew’s second sim-death experience when she inadvertently switched off her EVA-suit, the three were still able to collect a plethora of rocks and minerals for Adriana to analyze. Kshitij, Mason, Megan, and I took the next EVA. We followed in the earlier group’s bootprints and tire tracks, which were easy to spot in the pristine rusty sands that cover the surface here. The landscape’s primitive beauty pierced effortlessly through the fog-misted visors of our heavy helmets.
In other news, Megan has set up the 3d printer she’ll be using for her study into additive manufacturing. It will soon build a rock hammer and other tools for research, but currently the machine is toiling away to make a scoop for the coffee grounds that fuel us through every sol. For dinner, Kshitij and I will impose upon the crew our best impression of pizza, complete with fresh herbs from the GreenHab. Our recipe (and the recipe for the bread Madelyn has made daily) is courtesy of MDRS veteran and Crew 272 advisor Dr. Cesare Guariniello. The inclusion of Martian water really takes it to the next level!