Journalist Report – March 4th

Sol 11 – . – – . – – . – – . . . . . – !

Author: Nicolas Wattelle

Translate: « We made it! ». We made contact with the other Martian base (radio club in Toulouse, France)! In fact, we heard their signals but we are not sure if we were heard… The Sun has been nice to us for some days, and has charged the ionosphere enough to allow propagation!

The established protocol uses 3 modes of modulation (ways to transform our wave to send a message with it) with names that might scare some of you: FT8, CW and SSB. Here again, translate “digital mode” (only decodable with a computer), “MORSE mode”, and “voice mode”. On paper, we maximise our chances to make contact with the first one but we cannot send much information in each message, and the last one is the most uncertain but really facilitates communication. We tried two ranges of frequencies, around 21MHz and 28MHz. We don’t really know why, but today the MORSE mode has been the most efficient one, and the only one to work, and we finally heard something! Valentine and I were very excited while discovering our callsigns (KK7DAC and KK7DAE, lovely) followed by the REF 31 radio club one (F5KSE) in a message received near 9:17 am. Listen: 3 weeks ago, we took almost 13 hours travelling to MDRS from France, and now, at the speed of light, our waves took about a hundredth of a second to do the same course and deliver a message (without any intermediate, no satellite, no internet, no wire…). It is nice to see that the physics we learnt at school works effectively, in a big scale personal experiment! We hope to have the same (or even more) luck next Thursday, when we will try the contact for a last time, always using Zenith Antennes and ICOM devices.

In our propagation study we saw a very good one this morning, but the wind that appeared around noon significantly moved our antennas, and now we need to correctly set them again during an EVA… The weather cannot always be by our side…

On this subject, because of the rain probability, we could not do the geology EVA that was planned this morning. So, our day has had to be reorganised. Some of us took some rest, because here, we all have some moments of tiredness these days. Mathéo and Cerise decided to make cookies for the whole crew, which put us in a very good mood! Pictures to follow…

Yesterday, just when I finished my report, we had a strange exercise. Valentine set an emergency protocol exercise, inside the Hab. The situation was: there is a hole in the module, air is leaking out, the pressure is going low. How to react? We followed a protocol made by a middle school class in Toulouse, with which we have collaborated some months ago. No need to worry, it went (quite) well. We need to admit that during the first minute we were disorganised, but we managed to apply the protocol in time, and everyone was safe at the end. It was very interesting!