Sara Paule, Crew 289 Journalist & Executive Officer
When exploring Mars, you never quite know what you are going to discover. Today we set out in search of additional oysters. Yesterday, the crew explored north of the hab but today we set out south along Cow Dung Road in the area of Zubrin’s Head to the furthest destination our crew has yet to visit. Adriana (CO) and Eshaana (GEO) suited up again, this time leading me (XO) and Nathan (ENG) into the field. Unfortunately, while we explored extensively, covering a radial walking distance of 2 km and climbing up and down the local formations, devil’s toenails proved elusive despite comparable sediment layers to the formations examined yesterday at Hab Ridge.
While we were not able achieve our primary objective, the EVA was still eventful. Today, without our HSO on EVA, I was tasked with carrying our first aid kit. This small taste of the figurative (and literal) weight that our HSO Gabe experiences when traversing the landscape was eye opening. To be sure, I was deeply thankfully we had no need to use it despite some rougher terrain, such as scattered fist-sized rocks and even loose packed sand. In fact, at one point on the decline of the absolute smallest sandy slope, I lost traction completely and fell directly on my padded behind. (No damage done to myself or any equipment.) At that particular moment I was not even recording anything so I cannot even use photodocumentation of our explorations as a viable excuse!
Other highlights include, of course, additional Martian rock samples and as ever, the stunning beauty of this planet we are temporarily inhabiting. We also took a moment for fun – can’t be all work no play! In a call back to Adi’s now famous teapot power pose (originally stolen from Riya), we were able to capture a crew shot in front of a hunk of holey Martian rock.
On the decidedly surreal front, we did have an encounter with an alien during the expedition. Most unexpectedly, a dog-shaped creature in a cape, blocked our passage during our transit out to Zubrin’s Head. Despite our close presence in the rovers, the creature was undeterred from its own explorations and remarkably recalcitrant about moving out of the road. Eventually we were able to pass the lifeform at slow speed and proceed with the EVA but for a few tense moments it was unclear if we were in danger of an altercation while the alien stared us down with its dead eyes.
On the return to the hab, the EVA team was greeted by pizza. Delivery is not possible on Mars so ours was painstakingly made by the team back at station. Riya (GHO), Gabe (HSO), and Adi (SCI) collaborated on two veggie and cheese pies with grilled broccoli and grilled chicken on the side. The dehydrated mozzarella and Colby cheese, rehydrated and melted worked quite well as did the roti-based pizza crust. A heavenly sight to behold, one was dubbed the “Mona Pizza.” Unfortunately, we were too hungry to preserve it for the Louvre so da Vinci is still safe from being shown up by Crew 289 on the art front. (He’d better watch out in the realm of engineering though.)
Riya was chef extraordinaire today serving instrumentally in pizza and also provided us with delicious crepes topped with rehydrated strawberries, Nutella, and peanut butter. We have dinner still to look forward to post-comms window. And, maybe we will have a rematch of last night’s rousing game of Uno. Personally, I interpreted the landmark moment of our first game, whether or not it created new, enduring rivalries, as a sure sign the crew is settling in well all together in our Martian base.
Speaking of settling, living on Mars requires a different mindset. Using resources, especially water, responsibly is one of the primary preoccupations of the crew whether researching, cooking, hydrating, washing dishes, or for hygiene. Having demonstrated responsible rationing to date, CO Adriana rewarded the crew today with our first showers. Ever experimenting, the crew consensed that for this shower we would use the bucket method and later on in mission we would try the “navy shower” method to cross-compare water usage of the two different methods. Those who have already partaken of their shower agreed that it was truly a pleasant reprieve to clean with water and soap rather than baby wipes.
Okay, one resource that is essential to our research is computational power. Comms window was a rare treat tonight. If you look closely, you’ll notice 9 laptops and tablets to 7 people. Gabe was dual wielding computers to compare his data on his personal laptop to his photometry info on a separate laptop with special astronomy software. Adi decided that was too cool to not copy. Researching and progress reporting are going well!