Crew 272 Journalist Report 1-4-2023
Author: Kenny Pritchard, Crew Journalist
On the third sol of our stay at MDRS and the second of our simulation, we’re really breaking into our routine. Here at the Hab, everyone has their clear roles and responsibilities for the day, and everything gets done in a timely manner. It’s a simple lifestyle of chores, work, and relaxation that I think we could all get used to! I continued in my showcase of New Jersey cuisine this morning by following up last night’s pizzas with bagel/egg sandwiches for breakfast. Much of the crew elected to pass on the dehydrated eggs after their previous experience, but I’ll hold that they’re delicious with a healthy supplement of dehydrated cheese.
Adriana, Kshitij, Madelyn and Mason ventured out for a longer EVA today while the other three of us held down the Hab. This trip to the regions of Compass Rock and Candor Chasma was multi-faceted. The plan was for Mason to test scouting with his drone, Kshitij to set up a radio transmitter for his low-visibility navigation research, Madelyn to collect gypsum and regolith samples, and Adriana to fawn over seemingly ordinary rocks (and minerals!) as usual. According to our post-EVA debriefing session, it was a resoundingly partial success! Really though, the team did a good job adapting to the situation and accomplishing goals while the rest of us sat on our Martian behinds. Hiking around in EVA-attire, though fashionable, can be very tiring.
After nearly getting lost on the untamed roads around the Hab (seriously, Mars needs a transit administration), the EVA crew found their way and began their work. Kshitij was able to set up a beacon (the Boiler Transmission Station, or BTS) on a ledge overlooking Compass Rock. With the signal from this station and a nearly identical transmitter at the Hab, an astronaut could use a handheld ‘Yagi-Uda’ antenna to locate themselves without needing a visual. This might be important for a crew caught in one of those bothersome Martian dust storms I mentioned on Sol 1. Meanwhile, Mason was setting up a long-range beacon and piloting Garud the drone to scout ahead for the next destination of the EVA. Despite difficulties maintaining a solid connection at range, he was able to get some good views and an orbital video of the crew. Madelyn collected two containers of sand samples, which she will use as substrate for her plant growth experiments. The crew was ultimately unable to continue to Candor Chasma due to a combination of rover-battery and time concerns, but they pushed ahead to Compass Rock proper. There, Madelyn collected some good powdery sulfates, and Adriana some sandstone, petrified wood, and invertebrate fossils. Life on Mars! Somebody tell David Bowie.
Dinner was prefaced by a pungent odor emanating from the bathroom on the lower deck. Fear not, Mason suited up and fixed the problem, which required flushing out our septic system. Thanks Mason! It pays to have a good engineer out here. This time, he didn’t even die after making the repair. For dinner, Arly is cheffing up some cauliflower and sweet potato tacos, and we’ll celebrate our lack of sim-deaths this sol (so far…).