Crew 272 Journalist Report 1-13-2023
Author: Kenny Pritchard, Crew Journalist
Title: Lakshya (“Aim”)
For our final crew breakfast on Mars, despite rumors of lasagna, Adriana whipped up some biscuits and rehydrated butter. Our EVA this morning was planned for an early 9:00 a.m. departure, so we had little time to dilly dally – we ran an oxymoronically compacted stretching session, and four of us suited up for the EVA with biscuits still in our mouths.
The mission today was a real search and rescue to find and retrieve the Boiler Transmission Station (BTS) which had been deployed to a ledge near the Hab (we deemed it Boiler Ledge) on a previous EVA. After a few powerful dust and wind storms, the crew was concerned that it may have been blown far away from its last known location and lost to the sands of Mars. Mason, Arly, Megan, and I took the rovers to a good stopping point, walked up a familiar hill, and began scouting toward the expected location with the drone. This cycle of walking and scouting repeated a few times until we got close enough to where the drone camera could almost make out our target and we could walk over to Boiler Ledge. Lo and behold, the BTS sat serenely waiting our arrival, if a little waterlogged, and missing its original housing box. We collected the treasured transmitter and took some good drone videos and pictures hoisting our Purdue “Boiler Up” flag near the edge of Boiler Ledge. Having made excellent time to the Ledge and finding the objective easily, we made it back to the Hab before noon, where the rest of the crew sat working on the final tasks of our rotation: finishing up research, cleaning up, packing, and a writing a whole slew of end-of-mission reports.
With our time at MDRS coming to an end, it’s a good time to reflect on the progress we made. Although our crew had been meeting and planning for months leading up to our rotation, we had only just seen the tip of the iceberg of each other’s personalities and life stories (and flaws) (just kidding). Living together in an enclosed space on an inhospitable planet for two weeks was a quick fix! We’ve voiced our pet peeves, become adept with our equipment, endured exhausting EVAs, overcome unexpected challenges, been sim-resurrected from several sim-deaths, formed alliances and fought wars over board games, and we can proudly say that every crew member has achieved at least the minimum objectives of their research. The difference between our first steps and what we’re capable of accomplishing now is night and sol.
One common theme of each sol has been abundant references to the 2004 Bollywood movie Lakshya, shared with us by our fearless commander Kshitij. In this film, the main character asks himself “Main Aisa Kyun Hoon” – “Why am I like this?” and struggles to find his aim in life. I’d compare our first meetings and our final sols here with the beginning and end of the film, our crew taking a dynamic arc from inexperience and lack of direction to a resolute sense of purpose and efficiency, thanks largely to Kshitij’s wisdom and leadership (and humor). It’s been a good run here on Mars, but today we end our simulation to prepare for the long ride back to Earth! On behalf of the entire crew, thank you sincerely to all the loved ones who followed our journey and kept in touch along the way. Your support means… the world!
Signing off from Mars,
Adriana “Rocky” Brown, Arly “Maple” Black, Kenny “Hemingway” Pritchard, Dr. Kshitij “Chai” Mall, Madelyn “Sprout” Whitaker, Mason “Scout” Kuhn, and Megan “Xerox” Rush