Today’s EVA was as rewarding and productive as it was grueling. A team of four of us departed the airlock just after 10:30 am and embarked on an epic trek far to the east beyond the bounds explored by any previous crew.
Oh what they have been missing!
An hour of driving brought our rovers to the end of drivable path. From there we continued on foot to the northeast of the Maxwell Montes until we once again reached an impasse. This time: a sheer cliff overlooking a spectacular network of canyons stretching as far as the eye could see! But the real treat were the walls of exposed strata. A hundred feet tall, no less! Though our objective was simply a preliminary survey, I reckon that the crew geologist will soon be back to scrutinize the story contained within the jumbled concoction of earthy hues.
The walk back to our rovers was arduous in the sun and stagnant air, but the EVA team summoned its second wind and proceeded directly into the radio navigation experiment. We drove approximately halfway back to the habitat before splitting into pairs and parting ways. The commander, Max Fagin, and myself were one pair. We dismounted the rovers while the crew engineer, Melanie Grande, and executive officer, Kshitij Mall, returned to the habitat to continue maintenance on the main airlock.
As the two rovers rocked and bounced their way up the dirt path, the commander and I steeled ourselves for the long walk back to the hab. But rather than follow the road, we would be taking a more direct route: one guided through unfamiliar terrain by Morse tones broadcast from the hab and received by us on a utilitarian antenna. It worked perfectly. Homing in on the hab’s beacon, we returned with time enough to spare for many photos. When we at last entered the airlock the elapsed time was nearly 4 and half hours. Grueling indeed!
Back at hab, the crew engineer has been working hard to master the quirks of our fickle generator. The dwindling supply of nutella has also begun to bring out the worst in us. But spirits are high, and our geologist, Cesare Guariniello, has baked a delectable cake in celebration of our green hab scientist’s birthday.
Justin Mansell, MDRS Crew 186 Journalist
P.S. Photos attached. Photo of the day: 521750_4255200 03Jan2018 Stunning strata.jpg