Journalist Report – December 27th

Sara Paule, Crew 289 Journalist & Executive Officer
Sol 3
Today was a single EVA day but it was an important one. Adriana (CO) was able to gather the bivalves she needs for her research from Habitat Ridge with the help of Eshaana (GEO), Riya (GHO), and Gabe (HSO). The crew trekked out on foot to dig in the sediments of ancient oceans for evidence of past life. They were able to find and collect a total 36 samples of the species commonly referred to as “devil’s toenails” from two different sites along the ridge. In their exploration they located a unique dark layer of sediment which Adriana hypothesizes formed in an unoxygenated environment. They also found some beautiful calcite samples. Upon return to the hab, Adriana made “oyster soup” – washing her oysters in a beaker in the Science Dome. Site 1 samples were crusted in sediment but Site 2 samples were beautifully clean. Both will return to Earth with her for further processing to determine the water temperatures the oysters grew in when alive.
Much of the day was spent in maintenance and science at the hab. Aditya (SCI) was able to get E.L.F. fully operational – minus maximal battery capacity – last night after referencing his original schematics during the evening comms window. Today he focused on securing E.L.F.’s brains (wiring) in preparation for EVA operations in the upcoming days. With some careful planning, he was able to identify next steps for preparation, engineering, and crew training over the upcoming days. The crew is excited to participate.
Nathan (ENG) completed soldering in the RAM of a new battery pack for the sensors the Purdue team is testing out. The battery pack will power air quality sensors for the hab.
Eshaana completed set up of her mini-farm and got it fully planted as well as the plants labelled, and watered. She also troubleshot the Arduino and updated an error. She starts collecting data today.
Riya planted kale in her hydroponics set up and will do so on 12-hour intervals throughout our stay on Mars. She will simulate the effect of radiation on the leaves with the use of hydrogen peroxide. She also tested out her LIDAR scanning on the lower deck of the hab with Aditya posed as a teapot as signature feature. Additionally, she began engineering collapsible structures for multipurpose usage in space with intricately folded paper and legos.
Gabe (HSO) is eagerly awaiting pictures of the Crab Nebula which we are optimistic the telescope will collect tonight. He also was able to complete two photometry (intensity) measurements of the variable star he is studying (SW Tauri) which is in the Taurus constellation. This evening he will clean surfaces to prepare for sampling dust in future days.
As for me, Crew 289 has indulged me and completed two days of surveys on the various skills they have used throughout the mission so far and I began processing that data and got the pre-mission survey downloaded. I look forward to learning more about what traits are most important for astronauts.
Food consisted of a breakfast of biscuits with jam and other tasty topics, lunch was broccoli cheese soup with bread, and dinner consisted of a pasta with chickpeas.
Mars is a place for learning and today we also had a number of firsts! Today’s lunch, cooked by Aditya was his first ever soup. He felt empowered to spice it up and it turned out great. He also decided that it would be a good idea to try Nutella in his soup. Everyone else decided to pass despite his argument that it was a good combo. Eshaana’s first was in the realm of sewing. She reattached patches to her flight suit post-EVA. We also had a number of hab maintenance firsts to include a change of the air filter and cleaning of the hab toilet tank. Thank you, Nathan and Riya for handling those important tasks. However, the most exciting first will come tomorrow: We are looking forward to our first showers on Mars!

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