Journalist Report – January 3rd

Sara Paule, Crew 289 Journalist & Executive Officer
Sol 10
Weather makes a big difference and Crew 289 has been remarkably fortunate so far on mission. While it has been below freezing after sundown every day, making morning and evening forays into the further parts of the hab chilly, the sunshine has warmed the days to 30-40°F and resulted in quite comfortable EVAs with appropriate gear. (Ok, it’s typically still chilly riding on the rovers but wandering around warms up an astronaut nicely.) Until now, every day has been practically cloud-free with the exception of one partly cloudy day where we needed to preserve power. Today was genuinely cloudy though and in addition to needing to be cautious regarding power usage, our EVA crew came back quite chilled. Cold and, as ever, hungry but, overall, very happy.
Their destination was White Rock Canyon, a decent clip away southward of the hab. We were uncertain about the presence of the fossils in the location since we were unsuccessful in locating oysters just slightly westward at Barrainca Butte but a close look at the map left us hopeful based on earlier finds along Hab Ridge. Elevation is key to finding oyster deposits and today’s exploratory EVA with Adriana “Rocky” Brown, Eshaana “Butter” Aurora, Riya “Pots” Raj, and Gabe “Terminator” Skowronek was shockingly fruitful. The crew collected over 54 fossils and, best yet, these samples are stunningly clean and well-preserved. You can see the growth plate ridges on the shells! Today’s find more than doubles Rocky’s collection for the mission giving her plenty of materials to work with for her graduate research. We also played with LiDAR and 3D scanning of the fossils to try to document them digitally. We still need to optimize the process, scanning something small versus a geographical feature is not 100% comparable, especially when you want a full scan of the entire shell.
Adi “Michelin” Anibha, Nathan “Shrub” Bitner, and I held down the station today and monitored comms while the EVA crew was out hunting up oysters. Due to the cliffs between us and them, comms were very quiet today. The chatter was missed while we completed research tasks and our cooking.
I tackled breakfast today trying out a new recipe: brown rice and quinoa porridge with coconut milk, brown sugar, and soy sauce. It took well over an hour-and-a-half to cook down into porridge but no one complained. My crew is too kind for that! After shoving food in our faces, I started on bread using instant soup packets brought from Earth as a salt substitute. I finished kneading right as the EVA crew got their comms vests on and dashed downstairs to help them finish suiting up for departure. Everyone had to wait longer on the bread than anyone wanted – it went into the oven right after the return of the EVA team – but everyone was so excited when it finally came out that we hacked into it while still steaming and slathered it in Nutella, peanut butter, butter, and/or strawberries. Fried rice is on the menu for tonight. Can’t wait! It smells gooood.
We are winding down our time now and tomorrow marks our final EVA, assuming weather allows. (We may get rain on Mars!) If we are able to proceed, E.L.F. will be the star of the mission again. In a test today, E.L.F. broke irreparably while completing a practice jump. He reached a vertical height of 1.5” but won’t be doing any more leaping until he can be fixed back up at home. Yet, we’re pleased to hear he is not out of action entirely! Tomorrow we’ll hope to witness his origami moving motion out on the planet’s surface.
Tonight, I expect we’ll likely call it an early night after staying up late last night to finish the movie we started New Year’s Eve. We thought we’d watch another hour of the movie but we got drawn into the cricket match of Lagaan and finished the whole thing instead. Adi had to pause to explain the rules to those of us not familiar with the game. We passed a very enjoyable time in the loft but those of us who did not squeak in a nap today are starting to fade.

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