Journalist Report – November 14th

Thurs 14 Nov Sol 4
by Guy Murphy
This morning I undertook my first extravehicular activity (EVA) of this Crew rotation.
Steve, Larissa and I took a pair of small 4 wheeled electric rovers out along the road
to the south on the campus where we are sampling for micro-meteorites. The simulated
EVA space suits restrict the line of sight, requiring the wearer to orientate their
body to look to the side rather than turn their head. This is most noticeable driving
the rovers, as you cannot easily see behind you from the driver’s seat. The suits
include gloves, which remove the sense of touch that would normally inform contact with
surfaces and objects around you. The enclosed helmets create a void of silence, verbal
contact only possible using radios.
We spent an hour and a half at the sample collection site. Radio dialogue with the
others was supplemented by hand signals. Space suits can get hot when you are working,
despite internal air conditioning and cooling. If your face gets itchy, you cannot
scratch your nose. But its very beautiful being outside in this landscape and an
opportunity for some physical exercise. Working together we completed nearby 1/3rd of
the mission’s planned sampling at this site before returning to the Hab.
On Mars, humans are inherently more efficient than robots when it comes to field
research, and engineering requiring human cognition and dexterity. This is why we need
humans there. EVAs will only be done when strictly necessary, as any venture outside is
inherently dangerous. Exposure to background radiation will discourage individuals from
logging up too much EVA time. People will never go out by themselves, only in pairs or
more. Living indoors for many months on end, any chance to be outside under open skies
will be highly valued.
A restricted Martian pantry need not result in a bland diet. This morning Larissa
served freshly baked croissants, produced with dried butter and flour. We have been
making blocks of hard cheese by filling tins with dried grated cheese, pouring in hot
water, pressing the cheese with forks, then draining and refrigerating. Once taken from
their moulds and aired, the sliced cheese is great to serve on dry biscuits with pickles.