Journalist Report Oct 27th

Journalist Report October 27

Journalist: Sandy Dance

After travelling the world the team members finally assemble and meet each other, mostly for the first time, at the Days Inn in Grand Junction Colorado. We spend an afternoon buying all those last minute things we require for 2 or 4 weeks in the wilderness. And incidentally get to know each other.

We are a good team: Diane the nutritionist, Andrew the geologist, Sandy the IT and generalist, and our Commander Guy, the heritage consultant. Unfortunately the 5th person we were expecting had a medical withdrawal and couldn’t make it. Luckily Shannon was able to donate one of her interns to the team, David who studies mechatronics at Peru University.

That afternoon we drive the 2 ½ hours to Hanksville. There we meet up with Shannon in the hot and dusty little, but strangely attractive town. This is at the Rock Shop run by one Cathy, a funky little place with a vast array of geological specimens, especially dinosaur coprolites!

Finally we drive to the MRDS down a dusty little track winding around barren hillocks and crazy shaped rocks, turn a corner, and there it is: the Mars habitat.

We spend the rest of the time shifting supplies into the hab and tidying things up.

After a knockup meal, we collapse into bed, each with our tiny but lovable “stateroom”.

Sunday 27th October

We wake at 7am for a hearty breakfast of coffee, tea and porridge, then knuckle down to a morning of cleaning the hab and base, charging and preparing the spacesuits, checking the radios, rearranging the furniture, and moving rubbish from around the hab out of site.

The weather turns cold, cloudy and windy, not like yesterday.

Guy and I manage to skive off at one point and take a walk up the hill, something we can do today as we are not yet in ‘sim’. The walk up is over a hard crust of clay lying on top of very soft and dry clay powder. Our footsteps break through if we’re not careful, we don’t want to leave a permanent trace. The surface is rendered by rain and drought into a sort of elephants hide of minute erosion texture. We make it to the top and are greeted with a magnificent panorama around the horizon: eroded hills, buttes, mountains in the distance, all in a palette of pinks, greys and greens. One feature, Factory Butte, looks like its name, but with a skirt of eroded scree at 45 degrees.

Another knockup meal, lunch prepared from the dry goods (we are going to get used to this): cheesy dumplings with thick soup, just the thing!