Journalist Report – December 11th

Crew 184 Journalist Report

Willie Schumann

11 December 2017

Title                            Back on Track

Narrative                  It was our first real weekend on Mars, but there wasn’t much time to lay back and take a rest, because the problems of the past week still had their grip on us. On Friday the generator let us down once again, we shut it down and we prepared for the worst. As we expected another freezing night we started to seal the complete habitat to contain the warmth we have inside. If that still wouldn’t have been enough we considered moving to the science dome, as it is the structure of our Mars mission that is the best insulated. We covered and secured sensitive electrical equipment and send a few thoughts to our loved ones.

We succeeded and had a descent night. I think, the insights we gathered from this emergency event could be useful for the men and women, who will follow us to Mars. But for the time being, we stayed alert, because the problems weren’t resolved. Even if we slept like native Martians, we still had to take care of the generator and the flow of energy at night.

Together with mission control we made the decision to evacuate for the night of Saturday to an emergency pod a few miles south of the Habitat. Equipped with the most relevant life sustaining technologies, perfectly insulated but stripped of the extended possibilities of the habitat this pod served us perfectly for the night, before we could tackle the problem of the generator once another morning provided us with the energy of the sun.

When we returned Sunday morning things had calmed down and we realized, that one source of the problems could have been contaminated coolant in the generator. We decided to flood the coolantInline image 1 tank, to clean the device and refill it with a new mix. Mission control works tirelessly to find additional solutions to the hick-ups in the communication between the battery and the generator and I am sure the earths best scientists are writing already a perfect plan to make our energy infrastructure work not only for us, but for the future crews to inhabit this strange new planet.

Quick flashback to Friday, which was a grand Martian day. We continued our geological Matryoshka project on an EVA consisting of Science Officer Trivedi, Doctor Sczepaniak and me. We went North-East from the habitat and once again the landscape and nature proved to be surprising and new. The location was hidden, but in a mix of satellite imagery, GPS and common sense we finally found Candor Chasma. What a mystical name and a very fruitful location for our scientists.

The surroundings looked very similar to the Sahara Desert on Earth. Deep sandy dunes and mysterious desert plants, complimented by giant stones, that look like they have been dropped from the sky by a higher force. Cunningly some of these rocks have a very large body, but they are only connected to the ground by a small fraction of their bottom parts. Martian rocks seem to defy the logic of physics and there is much to be explored about the origin of these formations.

The crew climbed up to a higher plateau, even when the sun was high and the temperatures in the suits were rising constantly. Trivedi and Sczepaniak really worked as a team and secured a lot of uncontaminated probes. We saved a lot of time compared to former EVA’s and had even time for a film interview at the location in space suits.

After our return to the hab we had much time to care about maintenance., especially because we didn’t have an EVA today. We repaired a few space suits that were a bit out of shape and First Officer Randazzo really dug deep into the soil of the green hab. She had been afraid that after the generator failure, would have effected the temperatures immensely, threatening the livelihood of the young seedlings, she had planted before. But the structure proved its value and all the plants are alive and kicking.

She continued to thin out tomato plants and seed new herbs today to comple-ment the diet plan of the crew. As we were all stuck in the habitat today it becomes apparent, that it is good for the crew members to find refuge in one or another building on the premises to have a little time for themselves. First Officer Randazzo really enjoys the time in the green hab, it is almost like a form of meditation to plant new life into little pots.

Personal Logbook             After a tumultuous few days it was good to come back to the daily routine. There were a few doubts, how everything will continue on Mars for us, but now we can value our time here even more.

After the biggest problems seem to be contained I am looking very forward to go out on the next EVA tomorrow. While the Crew repaired the generator I used the time to shoot some pictures around the habitat. The design of the observatory is a real piece of art and I fell in love with it.

Looking forward to get outside the habitat tomorrow and I will try to capture some scenes, that I haven’t been shot before. I am very anxious what the next days will bring.

We had a great ten days of meals and we are running out of fresh supplies. We have to get creative now for cooking, but I am very confident, that we will create something delicious for the crew, because good food keeps the spirits high.

Thank you very much for your help and attention.

Willie Schumann, Journalist, Crew 184

Journalist Report – December 7th

Crew 184 Journalist Report

Willie Schumann

07 December 2017

Title                            Exploring Mars

Narrative                  I am sitting in my bed in the habitat and writing this report. And I am glad to get a little rest, because today has been physically challenging and we all are looking forward to our first Martian weekend.

We are getting our groove on with the longer days on Mars and yesterday treated ourselves by watching the infamous comedy puppet flick of “Team America”. Being far away from the home planet makes all these international conflicts seem even more ridiculous. Our crew on Mars is multi-national and we celebrate our differences. On top of that, we established fitting nicknames for all crewmembers. Our space doc is Bones, Crew Engineer Hunt is Big Foot, because he is not only the tallest man on Mars, but also has the biggest shoes. Commander Thomas Horn is the major and our Briton Akash Trivedi the royal on Mars. First Officer Randazzo is Wash, which came upon, when the crew assembled the first Martian workout bicycle and needed a lot of washers to make this item work. I am Smurf and I will not comment on how that happened.

Our water supply is doing great, but the generator still has some hick ups. To save the battery set-up we decided with mission control, to turn it off during the night. As a consequence not all life-supporting backpacks for the EVA were completely charged. But we got just about enough, to match our four crewmembers, who went out on the third leg of Science Officer Trivedis Matryoshka project.

For section three we went to URC North, just west of Galileo Road. It was a completely new sector for us and after we had passed some mountains we entered a giant terrain of mountain chains and valleys all covered by red stone. We had a few problems to find the exact location that was indicated by the scientists on earth via satellite imagery, but eventually found our destination.

Although I still have to carry a lot of equipment in two heavy bags with me I was happy with today’s behavior of the crew, because they remained longer in the respective exploration sites. That gave me enough time to get my pictures and I didn’t have to run around as much as in the previous days. Still, carrying the heavy backpack and holding the camera always still is an incredibly intense workout.

The adjustments we made yesterday to my alien space helmet worked pretty well. Only in the end of the EVA it got a bit foggy, but also the other helmets fogged up a little. I guess, with increased exhaustion our breathing got heavier and the sun was pretty strong, too. I will observe this in the days to come and we might apply some changes on the fly to make the helmet even better.

Talking about helmets. On our way back to the habitat we were facing the direct low sun and it was quite a challenge to navigate. It was quite funny to look at our Space Doctor Sczepaniak to drive at snails pace. As he is also the Security Officer he is an example of safety on Mars.

But we thought about a cool feature for the next generation of Martian helmets. Wouldn’t it be cool to have some sort of shades, a visor or a cap on the helmet top to use, when the crew is facing the full solar power? We will think about it a bit more and maybe come up with a new design in the days to come.

First Officer Randazzo discovered the Baking Automat yesterday and it became a tradition, at least in the last two days ( I have heard in America something is already a tradition, when it happened twice) to have freshly baked warm bread with Nutella right after the EVA. The perfect treat after an intensive ride on Martian turf.

But now I have to seize my reporting, because I am back on cooking command. We are soon running out of the last fresh food supplies we brought from earth. Today I will be using our last tomatoes, together with celery and tuna to mix one of my favorite dishes: Pasta with tomato sauce flavored with a cup of extra love.

Personal Logbook             Today I was very content with our EVA from the perspective of a filmmaker. At today’s exploration spot the crew remained longer at the various sites and left me more time to get my shots.

I also could run three interviews, which is a high in the past week. Vlogs are coming along better, too and the crew feels more and more comfortably with their role. Maybe they will do it automatically in the next days. That would take a load of me.

Today I took less analogue pictures, but I checked regularly the settings and the camera didn’t fell down. So I am confident, that everything went smooth today. If I will keep this rate I will have a nice collection additionally to the digital exposures I have made.

Thank you very much for your help and attention.

Willie Schumann, Journalist, Crew 184

Journalist Report – December 6th

Crew 184 Journalist Report

Willie Schumann

06 December 2017

Title                            Climbing Higher

Narrative                  Day number five on Mars and we are still alive and happy to be here. While it continues to be quite chilly in the morning our water pipes didn’t freeze last night. Learning from yesterday we checked the pump first thing after waking up and while the hab tank filled up I looked around and saw into very content faces of relieved Marsonauts. The Generator is still a bit shaky, but our solar panels work great and as long as the sun is shining we should be fine.

We were planning to continue our Matryoshka project today on an EVA and we wanted to start quite early. That’s why we had an early lunch around ten o’clock. As I was assigned with commander Horn and Officers Trivedi and Hunt to join the exploration team I was also free of my daily cooking duties.

That gave me the opportunity to film First Officer Randazzo preparing delicious chicken noodle soup and mashed potatoes. This was particularly interesting for me, because it was a classic case of dried space food. We have milk powder, which we mix up with water. Just imagine the insane amount of milk we would have to fly up into space, matching our demand. It would probably smarter to ship a couple of space cows up to the red planet, but we would need their food… don’t get me started. This milk is essential for our breakfast cereal and it surely made our mashed potatoes creamy like on earth.

We really get our groove on with our EVA preparations. This time we pre-checked our radios and used the time efficiently in the pre-breathing chamber to get our suits and helmets on. Today I tried a new helmet, I had especially made on earth to meet my needs for filming and photographing, as it is important to have my analogue cameras close to my eye for focusing. It is a combination of a newly developed pressure resistant head and a 180° crystal face shield, which looks like a giant scuba mask. There were some issues with it during the EVA, but I will come back to that later.

So we drove out much quicker, then in the last EVA’s and took a rover and two ATV’s. Yesterday I made already some cool stabilized GoPro shots, heading into the Martian landscape. We repeated these shots today and I especially instructed the ATV driver to drive really close to the camera I had applied at the rear of our rover. It worked and they shots looked even more cinematic today.

For the geologists Matryoshka project of Science Officer Trivedi we climbed a few hills at different locations with interesting rock formations. The sun was up and we had some great frames with impressive shadows. My helmet turned a bit foggy, so a lot of my filming was a bit of a blind flight. But with the experience of the last days I managed quite well to deliver good shots. We stumbled about a stone formation, that almost looked like a bone of a giant creature. We could imagine it was a fossil of an early Martian life form. But maybe it is also our earthly expectation we project on Mars.

Being on these hills gave us a great overview on the territory we had covered in the first days we spent on the new planet. It was a quite majestic moment. Unfortunately one of my analogue cameras fell down twice today, opened up and also my settings were temporarily messed up. I will only know in a few weeks, if the pictures came out well. So the mission is to take further pictures, never to stop and to be sure to have enough material to show to the folks on the mother planet.

We came home a bit prematurely and were surprised to detect a little water leak just below our air lock chamber. We analyzed the scene and tried to analyze the source of the leak. Was it melted ice connected with the frozen pipes yesterday?     We later consulted mission control and were assured it is probably our kitchen sink, which shouldn’t bother us too much. And the Martian ground can hold a little bit more water for sure.

Back to the new helmet. Unfortunately it couldn’t be perfected for the Martian environment, just yet. At the moment breathing causes still moisture in the helmet, which makes it hard to see completely through the face shield. With the assistance of Health and Safety Officer Sczepaniak we applied some improvements to the breathing mechanism and first tests were very promising. I will test it in the field tomorrow. There are new perfect solutions, but I am happy, that my team is very good in troubleshooting. After all, a Mars mission is work in progress.

Yesterday night Commander Horn conducted a board game night, which was super fun. Crew Engineer Hunt showed unexpected winning potential, but I was happy with my performance as well. I did pretty well in an American trivia quiz, just my dice throwing skills leave much room for improvement. Evenings like these are very important for crew moral, which is still intact and promising for the days to come. Inline image 1

Personal Logbook             It was a good day. I am less exhausted today, even though it was equally tough on today’s EVA compared to yesterdays. Maybe I am getting used to the Martian life circumstances. Maybe I am evolving quicker than I thought.

I had to speak out on our EVA today to the rest of the crew. In lack of a crew camera for pictures of the geological surface I was constantly asked to take pictures of rocks. I can do that, but most of the time I am busy documenting every move of the crew. Doing these scientific shots can much easier be achieved by an additional camera of the respective specialist officer. Everybody agreed and I was happy, that my role is understood, and so I can continue my storytelling.

As I didn’t take a shaver with me I am growing an impressive beard at the moment. Maybe it will turn Hemingwayish beard in a few days. That would be a first for me, but very appropriate for an adventurer

Thank you very much for your help and attention.

Willie Schumann, Journalist, Crew 184

Journalist Report – December 5th

Crew 184 Journalist Report

Willie Schumann

05 December 2017

Title                            Crisis Management

Narrative                  Some people say you only really arrived to a new home, when you managed your first crisis and you didn’t run away. Well, that means we have finally arrived on Mars. We woke up to a bunch of problems, which could have had a dramatic effect on the livelihood of crew number 184.

Crew Engineer Hunt woke up early today and was the first to realize, that our internal water tank in our top floor had reached a critical low level. This tank fuels our kitchen, the bath and the toilet – it is the heart of our Martian shelter. It is just below the roof, because it uses gravity to deliver water to the various outlets below. At first we thought, our pump was defective, that enables the whole operation.

That conclusion was plausible, because shortly after crisis number one we detected crisis number two. Our battery, which is fueled by a generator and the solar panels at their respective working hours, was down to five percent. Commander Horn and Crew Engineer Hunt, still in his pajamas, observed the devices and detected a leaking oil tank.

Was our failing energy source the reason for the block in the water delivery? And could the Officer Hunt fix the oil leak and subsequently fix the hab? Time was crucial, because we only had limited reserve water bottles and the toilet was also relying on the tank. From personal experience I could tell, holding back on business at the space-loo makes it impossible to stay operational.

The night was awfully cold leading to Sol 4 and so we came up to a new possible reason of the failing water system. Maybe the pipes leading into the hab were frozen? We checked them and although we couldn’t peek inside we could feel how cold they were. The sun still hadn’t turned around far enough to warm up the external water tank. We never had been so anxious for the hot giant star to move faster to hit Mars with a wave of heat.

After two hours of trouble shooting and learning more about our life-sustaining infrastructure we contacted mission control and requested assistance on our problems. We were assured, that we were on the right track and that we will life another day. After we closed the oil leak, which was caused by cap, which wasn’t screwed tight enough, the battery gained quickly power. And once the sun turned the water flooded into our hab.

Because of the crisis situation we had to push our second EVA’s two to three hours back. Me and a crew of three, led by Science Officer Akash Trivedi, were already in the pre-breathing chamber, when we heard the good news of the resolved problems. We could start with a light heart to our mission to collect soil and rock samples.

Akash Trivedi is one of to European members of our crew. The Briton is well connected to the university of Oxford, which asked him to do a so called Matryoshka project. He received satellite data for interesting surfaces on Mars and now wants to collect samples from exactly these spots. Like a Russian doll both elements will complete one another.

For the first time we took the rover out and as we reached our destination climbed on hills to collect the sources. It was fun. The heavy helmet and backpack didn’t really hold me back. But I must say carrying the camera equipment and the necessity to be faster at certain spots and staying longer to have enough flesh for the footage is demanding. It sounds contradicting, but creating great movie footage makes often only sense for the filmmaker.

Coming back was great, because there was a special treat waiting for us. With restored energy and water, we will have our first shower on Mars. We were holding back on it since the beginning, looking on the water crisis, quite a good exercise to deal with such a shortage. So if you excuse me, I have a date with our shower…

Personal Logbook             Today was a fruitful day, but I will be happy when I lay down to sleep.  Partly this is due to our busy schedule, to the high demand of the marsonauts life and the challenges of the work.

Because my crew has little to no experience with documentary work, it is also a workshop for them to align with the demands of filmmaking. In a way, they have to be actors, but actors, who play themselves. Once you understand this and the technical requirements of filmmaking you are half way there.

Some are very talented and pure gold. For others I have to explain certain procedures over and over again. And it’s all good and no ones fault. It just makes it a bit harder for me. Which is tough, when you already do four jobs by yourself.

Today I could also do some more photos on film, which made me very content. During the various problems we had to manage I was doing some photography of our polished helmets and suits. I thought I use the calm to cover theses essentials.

Tomorrow I might stay in the hab for a day. I definitely should take a little rest in one of the next days. I think I will make this decision upon the weather forecast. Still super excited to be here, but taking care of my energy level to continue to deliver good pictures.

Thank you very much for your help and attention.

Willie Schumann, Journalist, Crew 184

Journalist Report – December 4th

Crew 184 Journalist Report

Willie Schumann

03 December 2017

Title First Steps

Narrative Today was the day, we walked the first time on Martian soil. But before our boots printed our profiles in the dusty ground, we had to learn how to survive. Meaning how to use our space suits properly and to stay always in touch with our crewmates.

We decided to split our crew in groups of three each, to have a short familiarization EVA. Commander Horn and Medical Officer Sczepaniak and me had the privilege to be in group one. The pole position also helped to clear some problems for the rest of the team. It took us some time to have all radios checked and synchronized and applied perfectly on our suits. The cameraman forgot to take his camera in all his euphoria into the preparation room. But there was no time for shame for yours truly, only time for EVA.

Our space helmets are certainly a piece of art. Quite unique in size and design, and clearly differentiable to other groundbreaking space missions in the past decades. Every era should have their iconic space suits and round and clear helmets define the era of humans on Mars. It takes two people two put the helmet and the oxygen container on the astronaut, which is clearly an effort. But it also increases the feeling of security; because it clearly has what the astronaut needs most – plenty of breathable air.

But it takes a little bit more to be able to go out of the habitat than just putting on a suit. To avoid the risk of decompressing our lungs we stayed twenty five minutes in the preparation room. We used this time to triple check our before we went into the airlock. This tiny chamber is the last thin border to the Martian environment. There we decompressed for another five minutes. The moment of opening this last door to adventure was beautiful, commander Horn opened the lock and the Martian sun welcomed us.

Yesterday night blew a hefty Martian storm over our habitat, so first thing we did was checking the premises for possible damage. We discovered nothing and jumped on our ATV’s, which we had extensively trained on. I had struggled with it before, but today it was a complete joy ride. Everything seemed in sync, as I was ever meant to be to ride on this surface.

Our plan was to explore the near surroundings and so we did. The ground was mainly perfectly even and we quickly distanced ourselves from our hab. The landscape got more surreal as we gained ground. Round shaped and sharp edged hills and rocks are sprinkled left and right of us. We stopped and climbed on the highest elevation point. I was surprised how easy we reached the peak. The surface is soft and gives enough grip to step up. On top it was a great opportunity to shoot some pictures to send home.

After we returned to the hab and a quick lunch I decided to join the second group for their first minutes. I thought it was a great chance to get some additional film footage. After everything was done I actually felt the exhaustion of the EVA’s. While I was out there the adrenaline kept me focused and going, because every new shot was a promise. But it was great to return to the hab, which turned to our home within just a few days. I never expected that, but the intensity of our endeavor seems to accelerate everything. Mars really makes every minute count and precious.

Personal Logbook I am exhausted, but very happy after this day with 1,5 EVA’s. While the first one was a proper one, I took the chance to film a few transition shots in the beginning of the EVA of our second group out on Mars.

There are challenges to film with the round helmet, but I surprisingly managed well to focus. It seems I am fit to film on Mars. For the first time I also had the chance to take some photography on film on Mars, which made me really content.

I see pictures and stories everywhere, but you have to stay contained and you have to shift certain scenes and topics to another day. Otherwise I would kill myself with work. I have to stay fit and focused this entire mission.

I am happy, that the crew is picking up on my idea of VLogs. Instead of an interview I would love everyone to film personal diaries with an iPhone. Other than a conducted interview a VLog gives the audience the chance to have a very personal look on the protagonists of our adventure.

Today I used my new 360° camera the first time. And I already learned a bit. To avoid shadows on the complete frame I will probably use it, when the sun stands the highest, or it isn’t there at all.

Overall it was a great day. I am running a bit behind with interviews, but I leave that for the days, when weather forbids us from going outside. The pictures today were fantastic and I am optimistic for the days to come.

Thank you very much for your help and attention.

Willie Schumann, Journalist, Crew 184

Journalist Report & Crew Photos – December 2nd

Crew 184 Journalist Report

Willie Schumann

02 December 2017

Title Day One on Mars

Narrative We are on Mars. It’s unbelievable, but yet so real. After half year of planning , we arrived yesterday to the habitat and it was a rush of first impressions. We cleaned some larger items of the previous crews and made ourselves at home. The effects of the long Martian day, which is 40 minutes longer then a day on earth, kicked in and we were quite tired. We dropped into our beds happy and exhausted, which is the best state of mind when you finish a day.

There is always beauty in new beginnings, and so was the morning of our first Martian Day. We got up really early. There is still so much to be done before we can start our research and breath life into the plentiful projects of crew 184. Nonetheless, we spoiled ourselves with a hearty breakfast of scrambled eggs. We are trying to use our fresh food as soon as possible. Especially in the first days we want to keep moral high, as the six of us have to get used to the new environment.

After breakfast, our second in command Trisha Randazzo gave everyone in the crew a little bag of presents. What a surprise, which could only be topped by Mars itself. The first sunrise on the red planet blew our minds. The colors of the distant sun, leaping over the Martian hills was something I had never seen on Earth. Maybe the euphoria tainted my perception, but anyway, it was darn beautiful.

Even though we were not assigned on an EVA, just yet, the day was eventful. First Officer Randazzo and Crew Engineer Hunt started assembling the workout bicycle really early and had a steep learning curve. It’s seems to be a universal truth, that assembling is as hard on Mars as it is on Earth, and that improvisation is always king. It’s not important how you get there, but that is works and that you gained knowledge in the process.

It’s not a surprise that the crew meals on this first day have been a very bonding experience. I hope we can keep this energy, even if we run out of fresh food and of inspiration how to prepare it. We cherish being here together and looking forward for the days to come. We planted six paper white flower in the green hab this noon, one for every crewmember. So we set already the first seeds of new life on this strange planet. We try to keep them alive. If we succeed, we will probably manage most other challenges that wait for us.

Tomorrow we will head out for our first EVA’s. I think, that is when the magic really starts. We are familiar with our new home now, but now we want to see the land, that surrounds us. We hope we can manage to wear the new space suits without larger problems, as we have heard, that you have to be fit. That’s another reason, why we plan an intense workout regime during our stay. I think, even if we struggle in the beginning of our mission, practice will show its effect and we can start to enjoy our exploration of Mars to the fullest.

Personal Logbook As a Journalist and filmmaker I have certain goals like everyone else of my crewmates. I am very excited about the time to come and conscious about my tasks and the things I need to do, to create great stories. While today was mainly spent with preparations and adjustments, tomorrow will be opening a great window of opportunity for fantastic pictures, when we will finally go outside.

I have filmed a lot today, but I think, that the scenes, that follow, will be more meaningful. As now, I haven’t managed to make to many interviews and it will be a challenge to find new corners and angles in the habitat to film. I was a little tired this morning, but worked on autopilot through most of the day. Patience and motivation will be important to make the most of my time on Mars. I guess, these are qualities that are essential for every astronaut and storyteller.

Willie Schumann, Journalist, Crew 184