Commander's Report – September 29th

Crew 228 Commander Report 29Sep2021

Sol: 2

Summary Title: Dinosaurs, Viruses, and Space Exploration

Author’s name: Lindsay Rutter

Mission Status: Nominal

Commander Report:

"The Areonauts have landed on Mars!" our crew cheered as we touched down on Cow Dung Space Track. The dried-up Martian river bed is named after Cow Dung Road 0110, a breathtaking road in the San Rafael Swell back on Earth that could never be forgotten by anyone who traveled on it during terrestrial Mars analog missions from generations past. The habitat, built by AI and ISRU, comes into view. One Areonaut dissolved into bouts of uncontrollable laughter: “It’s right there! I can’t believe it’s real!” Then, we all break out into laughter.

It feels surreal for us to be on Mars. We have rigorously trained for this thrice-postponed mission for 2.5 years. We started as nine strangers who hailed from all across the globe, each of whom would bring irreplaceable expertise to optimize the mission. We would comprise of Malaysian, Italian, and American engineers; a British journalist; a Japanese botanist; a Lithuanian sociologist; a Cypriot cardiologist; a Bangladeshi astronomer; and an American biologist.

Then, days before our scheduled liftoff, while quarantining at the international space agency, a pandemic broke out on Earth. Our mission was terminated and we transitioned from a calculated and routine spaceflight quarantine with our crew to an unexpected and chaotic worldwide quarantine with our families and friends. The COSPAR Planetary Protection Policy was updated with new standards to prevent the spread of the terrestrial virus into a space virus.

With these important updated protocols, the Areonauts needed to temporarily split into two units. The four of us who arrived on Mars will serve as Stage One Crew. The five crew members who remained on Earth will serve as Stage Two Crew; they are abiding by strict terrestrial quarantine procedures, while resuming their intense training back on Earth. They are currently serving as Remote Crew until they physically join us later at the habitat.

It was incredibly difficult to split into two units, especially because I knew what each crew member wanted to accomplish, and I was anticipating leading a successful mission for all Areonauts. We were in a pinch with the sudden loss of in-situ expertise, but if the virus from the Pale Blue Dot has taught us anything, it was the value of flexibility and patience. I am so proud to witness our remote crew supporting our in-situ crew, with our more experienced remote flight surgeon helping our in-situ HSO and our remote agricultural advisor helping our in-situ GreenHab Officer.

The pandemic has highlighted an urgent need to focus on Earth. At the same time, it has demonstrated the existential scale of unpredictable events. Cow Dung Road rests on top of dinosaur bones, ancient reptiles who met a spectacular ending 65 million years ago. As we explore this new terrain, I am reminded of how important it is to prepare for and learn from unexpected events, with parallels between space exploration, planetary defense, and planetary protection. While these concepts ring through my head, I am determined to still make this mission a success for all Areonauts. Our mission can still add a small component toward a larger set of actionable knowledge that can benefit both humans in space and on Earth, as we all learn to sometimes live in isolation and with limited resources.

Journalist Report – September 29th

Jin Sia, HSO

They say it isn’t the speed that kills you
but the stopping.
Free the reins of the Sun’s
rays entangling the Hab in a net of
time and frenzy and the
tick tock tick tock tick tock
of raindrops dying upon the roof;
a patina of water,
here today, reincarnated tomorrow in a puff of the heavens,
returning to the cycle that is here
but isn’t supposed to be here.

From where did the water come?
From where in the disk of
spinning, spinning,
gossamer threads of matter from the dust
that came from dust that came from dust,
and that to dust will return,
from the ice-cold encrusted sleep
upon the sunken eyes of the unknown.

"Shade under my roof of dreams," says the Hab,
"Ponder in my pocket of dark," whispers the SciDome,
"Revive in me," emanates the GreenHab,
"Take a gift and leave a gift," booms the RAM from deep depths above.

Aerobrake into a shower of possibility,
fire retrorockets into a plume of vision.

At the end of the long dash
a summit awaits,
ready for another day,
ready for another day.

Sol Summary – September 29th

Crew 228 Sol Summary Report 29Sep2021

Sol: 2

Summary Title: Breath In, Slow Down

Author’s name: Inga Popovaite

Mission Status: Nominal

Sol Activity Summary:

Second day on Mars was a slow one. No EVAs were scheduled for the day due to inclement weather. The main activity of the crew was the safety tour of MDRS led by Jin, the crew HSO. Otherwise, we all worked on our own projects and slowly settled into life on Mars. Inga (crew scientist/GreenHab officer) planted some banana peppers, lettuce, chamomile and carrots. Cucumbers and zucchini seem to have sprouted overnight!

Lindsay set up her work space in the Science Dome, Dave fixed one of the room doors and worked on the radios, and Jin caught up with his blogging. Some of us took our very first showers.

Crew 228 slowed down, breathed in, and settled on Mars.

Look Ahead Plan: Planning to have first EVAs (the Marble Ritual) tomorrow.

Anomalies in work: None

Weather: Rain in the morning; overcast in the afternoon, beautiful cotton sunset.

Crew Physical Status: Feeling more rested than yesterday

EVA: None

Reports to be filed: Commanders Report, Journalist Report, EVA request, Science Report

Support Requested: None

Science Report – September 29th

Crew 228 Science Report 29Sep2021

Crew Scientist / GreenHab Officer Inga Popovaite

Inga is continuing data collection for the last part of her dissertation on group interaction in space analog environments. She is conducting participant observation and aims to contribute to the sociological studies of groups in space and space-like environments

The crew started piloting data collection instrument for another sociological study of emotions and emotion management in space analog environments. It is a personal diary with daily prompts that asks the participant to reflect on the day’s events. The crew will continue daily journaling throughout the mission in order to give feedback and improve future participant experience.

Other science and research projects are to be started soon.

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