Journalist Report – February 24th

Sol 3 – Botanic emergency

Author : Nicolas WATTELLE

Definitely, a day without any complication on Mars, that may not exist…

Nevertheless, the day began quite well, I would even say that it was a very efficient work morning. One of the biggest challenges was setting up the antenna which we could not set the day before… The four martionauts chosen to do so were Valentine (she was wearing the Hololens during the whole outing today), Marine, Cerise and Léa. And, even if the task was not easy on paper, they appeared to manage very well: only one hour of the EVA was dedicated to achieve the tricky task.

This antenna is made of two big triangles (6 meters high), one in front of the other, directed towards France. It is called a Delta Loop, and ours was generously built by the radio club of Toulouse (REF 31), we were thus proud to see it set up in front of the Hab. We tested it, and the performances were encouraging, so that is good news for the future of our mission! A huge shout out to the four girls who made a perfect shot in EVA!

And then, the first unforeseen happened. Léa lost contact with her buddy beginning the last part of the EVA: her radio earphone and microphone had been unplugged while she was moving. So, writing on a paper to the three others, they decided to come back in the airlock, and the EVA was shortened. But this was nothing compared to what happened in the early afternoon…

We received a call from mission control. They discovered during the day that our GreenHab was compromised: white flies had contaminated the whole room so the future of all crops was at risk. The given instructions were clear: each Crew Member had to stop their activity and go to the GreenHab for a “big and fast gardening session”. We had to remove all the plants that were contaminated and assess the state of what can be salvaged and what was not.

First, we were worried for our disturbed schedule, but it turned out to be a great moment where we all had to work at the same place, at the same time. On top of this, the GreenHab atmosphere is always warm and really bright. Let’s say it, it was a pleasure doing it. But the result was quite sad: only few crops could had been saved, the GreenHab will not be usable for the next days. Currently, we do not know if we will be able to see fresh plants growing before the mission ends. The only kind we kept in our responsibility is the gravistropism experiment, which we are doing with school students back in France, which we moved to the ScienceDome.

At the end of the day, Elena the GreenHab officer had to write her last GreenHab report, and she will say goodbye to this special part of the station, that she had taken care of for the past four days…

Finally, we came back to our activities left uncompleted. And by the time I am writing these words, almost all the crew is helping to find ideas on how to cook the (big) harvest of the day: our lasts fresh vegetables of the mission.