Journalist Report – January 2nd

Sara Paule, Crew 289 Journalist & Executive Officer
Sol 9
Here on Sol 9, Crew 289 is beginning to count down the days (and the meals) until departure. Less out of excitement to return to Earth and more to begin the necessary planning to ensure that we can maximally complete our various research projects and coordinate travel arrangements to successfully return ourselves and our equipment. However, today also marks the day where we are beginning to feel the dwindling of our food resources. After tonight, we have 4 more breakfasts and 3 more lunches and dinners here at MDRS. We have plenty of food to keep us fed but, from here on, our kitchen experiments will become that much more experimental. Wish us well!
Breakfast this morning was a choose your own buffet mix of leftovers and cereal with coconut milk. Lunch was a tomato soup cooked by today’s Hab team of CO Adriana “Rocky” Brown, Eshaana “Butter” Aurora (GEO), Riya “Pots” Raj (GHO) and cheesy biscuits. Each was peak inventive with cheesy broccoli soup powder going into the biscuits and soy sauce helping add some salt to the soup and brown sugar some sweetness. Also, apparently biscuit mix also went in to the soup. Ingenious since they needed additional salt and thickener and the biscuit mix had both. Dal makhani – lentils and kidney bean combo – is for dinner.
We did have an EVA today. Electronic LeapFrog (E.L.F.) was the star this afternoon at Candor Chasma, getting a chance to tackle some steeper, rockier, terrain. E.L.F. was able to climb and descend well with a leash assist. Unfortunately, when he prepared to undertake a jump, he lost a wheel so we were not able to measure his standing vertical. (Happily, he’s already been fixed up and will be ready for his third Martian terrain test 2 days from now.) Rarely do we only have one objective during our EVAs and this one was no exception. We were able to collect FLiDAR (drone with a phone) of the chasm and to more thoroughly explore the territory for future EVAs. Before heading back, the team – Aditya “Michelin” Anibha (SCI), Nathan “Shrub” Bitner (ENG), Gabe “Terminator” Skowronek (HSO), and me, Sara “Zinger” Paule (XO) – did take a moment for a group photo. The terrain in the chasm was absolutely beautiful so at one point I entrusted my phone to Shrub today to take photographs while I clicked away with the GoPro (his phone was engaged in the FLiDAR scanning which requires 2 phones, 1 to fly and 1 to scan). I also got some entertaining footage of the drive back to the Hab in the rovers. Shrub declared along the way that thinking of this particular route as comparable to a rollercoaster made it even more fun – it was indeed a delightfully bumpy ride.
So much happens in a day at MDRS and I am only able to give you a taste of the experience. Here is a small sampling of other things that happened today: Rocky checked carbonate levels in some of her collected sediments. Terminator processed a photo of the Crab Nebula (M1). Butter set up a camera for her agrovoltaic minifarm. Pots discovered 11 baby tomatoes in the GreenHab. I finished coding the Journalist reports from prior crews that I selected for sampling a few days ago and also started on coding Sol Summaries, another mandatory report type. And, best yet, for fun this evening, we experimented with “Pots” 3D pen. Her 3D printed piping tip performed admirable in decorating funfetti cupcakes! Beautiful and yummy.

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