Journalist Report – December 25th

Sara Paule, Crew 289 Journalist
Sol 1
It’s Sol 1 and Christmas on Mars! Crew 289 greeted the day with a surprise Christmas tree and Milky Way candy bars supplied by Commander Adriana Brown which sweetened the chorus of Merry Christmases as the crew kicked off the day. Breakfast was fried potato crisps and scrambled eggs. If you are wondering, dehydrated eggs do kick up into a reasonably normal consistency, at least in the hands of skilled Martian cooks. Many thanks to Eshaana and Nathan for a great meal to start the day.

After some training, to familiarize ourselves with our new home for the next two weeks, we squinted against the surprisingly bright Martian sunlight to capture some crew photos. Then we officially started simulation at 14:00 and got in our first EVA to Marble Ridge. Geologist Eshaana Aurora led Astronomer Gabriel Skowronek, Crew Scientist Aditya Anibha, and XO and Crew Journalist Sara Paule (me) on our explorations for our first training EVA. The day was beautiful – bright blue skies and warm sunshine offset the Martian topography stunningly. We collected assorted rock samples to familiarize ourselves with the terrain and to share with our crewmates back at the Hab who greeted us with a delightful pasta salad with fresh picked kale. Capturing the experience in photo and video proved a fun challenge with the necessary safety of gloves and the complexity of a stunning lack of shoulders for my shoulder camera bag. I need to sprout more arms or design a better way to be camera bag free.

Post-EVA, we did a quick bit of cleaning and as the sunlight faded, the crew turned their attention to kicking off their various maintenance tasks and research projects. On the fresh food front, Greenhab Officer Riya Raj replanted some radishes, broccoli, and carrots all while capturing some beautiful photos. For her research, she got her self-contained hydroponics system unpacked in the Science Dome and ready for planting tomorrow. Geologist Eshaana Aurora assembled her mini-agrovoltaic farm in the Greenhab. As a self-professed night owl, she plans to continue her work post-dinner by securing the brackets.

Focused on the electronics functioning of the Hab and surface exploration, Crew Engineer Nathan Bitner assisted Crew Scientist Aditya Anibha with some troubleshooting to get the origami drone Aditya designed and assembled at Purdue ready for tomorrow’s test EVA. The robot, dubbed by the crew the E.L.F. or Electronic Leaping Frog, unfortunately is currently not operational due to the turbulence associated with travel to Mars. Aditya was able to ascertain E.L.F. is getting power and receiving commands but he will further troubleshoot the unresolved issue tomorrow. We are all excited to see it in operation. Meanwhile, Nathan was able to verify the sensors that Crew 288 placed are indeed working and set up connection to the Adafruit dashboard with Purdue mission control. We expect he will have it fully operational tomorrow. Great progress!

Christmas dinner is on the stove – a risotto and an apple pie. I am hopeful the crew will forgive me for any sins with the risotto – alternating stirring and report writing kept me on my toes. I trust the pie baked by Adriana will be absolutely delish, especially since in a holiday spirit, she made it C-shaped for baking. We will toast Christmas with some sparkling cider. Holidays are joyful workdays on Mars!

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