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