Journalist Report – January 13th

[Sol 13] [The
Final Countdown]

The team awoke to the song: “The Pioneers of Mars” and to the exciting news of the safe arrival of crew 187 on this desert world. After one final pancake breakfast we threw ourselves into our cleaning duties, eager to make a fine impression as the previous team had with us. When our colleagues arrived in the early afternoon with their pressurized rover we had only just finished preparing the habitat for them. There was a short break to introduce ourselves, but the new team was excited to learn the ropes of maintaining the habitat. We organized ourselves into pairs and taught them the quirks of each of the hab’s systems.

With familiarization and photos out of the way, we plan to spend the evening socializing with the new crew over dinner and some card games. Overnight we will travel to the ascent vehicle and begin preparations for launch at dawn. As such, this will be my last update until we reach orbit.

It is said that the 4 stages of teamwork are forming, storming, norming, and performing. Over the past mission I have seen our team pass through each of these stages and though circumstances have been tough at times, I can say with confidence that we leave this world more capable, humorous, considerate, and farseeing than the people we came as. The soaring mesas, grand vistas, and infinite textures of this remote planet have changed us. But our greatest hope is that we have in turn changed it. To make what was a desolate, frozen expanse more livable, meaningful, and ultimately more human: this is the goal of humankind’s voyage to Mars, and the goal, perhaps, of our journey to the stars.

We wish Crew 187 all the best for their mission. For those on Earth, we would like to thank the legions of support personnel for making this grand adventure possible. With luck, we will be seeing you all soon!

Justin Mansell, MDRS Crew 186 Journalist

P.S. Photos attached. Photo of the day: 13Jan2018 Crew186-187 hand off.jpg

Journalist Report – January 9th

[Sol 9]

Another slow day at the hab. The crew awoke to frigid temperatures and a shroud of blowing Martian dust – our first sandstorm. Unwilling to test our luck in the tumultuous conditions, we immediately cancelled the planned EVA and have postponed it to tomorrow. Despite the storm, however, life at the habitat remains quite pleasant. The rarefied Martian wind is too tenuous to threaten our immediate safety and instead fosters a sense of coziness here. The crew enjoyed a television show after breakfast and has spent the day working, reading, and debating various topics. For those who participated in yesterday’s chilly EVA the downtime was certainly welcome.

By the late afternoon the dust had begun to clear and a robotic supply rover which landed earlier this week was able to complete its slow trek to the hab. After a quick excursion to obtain the supplies the crew delightfully unpacked a brand new bread maker and put it to use right away. At the time of writing the team is eagerly awaiting the results.

Justin Mansell, MDRS Crew 186 Journalist

P.S. Photos attached. Photo of the day: 09Jan2018 Crew mental health questionable.jpg

Journalist Report – January 1st

[Sol 1] [New Year, New Planet]

The first sunrise of 2018 broke the horizon at approximately 7:40 am this morning and lit the sky with a fiery glow not unlike the sea of ochre shades below. The crew roused with little hesitation and started the day with a yoga session led by our executive officer, Kshitij Mall. By 9 am the team had donned our EVA suits and capitalized on the morning light to conduct photo shoot. It was also our last chance to enjoy the outdoors while still being able to take our helmets off.

With the crew portraits obtained, the crew returned inside the habitat to indulge in a delicious New Year breakfast of fruit crêpes, cooked for the team by yours truly. At noon, the airlocks were shut from both sides and the simulation began.

But our crew isn’t one to vegetate inside the habitat (as cozy as it can be). Almost as soon as the simulation had begun, our ardent commander, Max Fagin, had 4 of us suiting up for our first EVA. The purpose was to analyze rock samples a short distance south of the hab and the EVA also served as an important test of our spectrometer and radio navigation equipment. Upon our return, the crew engineer, Melanie Grande, used some surplus time to replace the window on the outer door of the southern airlock.

Though the EVA was short, it has given the team much to think about. We have since been discussing various logistical items and how to iron out minor bugs in our EVA equipment.

Justin Mansell, MDRS Crew 186 Journalist

P.S. Daily photos attached. Picture of the day: 01Jan2018 Happy New Year.jpg