Journalist Report – February 17th

Sol 5 – “Mission Support, we have a problem…”

“He wanted to go to Mars on the rocket. He went down to the rocket field in the early morning and yelled in through the wire fence at the men in uniform that he wanted to go to Mars.”

– Chapter 5 of The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

So, you want to go to Mars? Are you sure?

After a very intense Sol 4, and for some of us, staying up late preparing the weather station for the next EVA, our commander noticed a power outage at 5:27am. As we all began to stir and emerge from our sleep to the sound of the comms radio, we noticed that, like yesterday, the temperature had dropped on the upper and lower decks of the Hab. When the power came back, immediately the propane alarm went off on the Lower Deck. Corentin and Quentin rushed to the RAM to get gas detectors and evaluate the situation. After a careful check of every possible source, they concluded that there was no gas leak, and that the alarm was either deregulated by the extreme temperature, or that when the power went out, the furnace valve was not closed right away, and a small amount of gas was expelled and accumulated close to the Lower Deck floor. While no one was put in danger, it was a very stressful experience. Later in the day, we were even able to retrace the events by looking at the data from the chest bands we wear at night.

Our heartbeats skyrocketed when Jérémy called Mission Support with the Hab radio and when the propane alarm went off. After the power came back, temperatures started to slowly rise again, and we shed some layers. Thank the Martian gods, Adrien’s aquaponic fishes are still alive and well!

Given how our night had been drastically shortened, and because we risked another power outage, we decided to cancel today’s EVA and reschedule it to tomorrow morning. As a result, instead of staying up and starting the day normally, many of us went back to bed… According to our commander, it felt like a Sunday morning at MDRS: some of us sleeping, some working, some cleaning the Hab.

By late morning, it was once again all hands on deck: Adrien in the GreenHab, Quentin working on the environmental sensors, Alice writing an article on meteorites. Today was also official launching day for EchoFinder: Jérémy and I, then Adrien and Corentin took turns being subject and operator, to detect specific, pre-scanned organs during a session at CNES, the French space agency.

After this strange day, we are ready and rested for our rescheduled EVA: building the weather station near the MegaAres antenna. We hope that tonight, the power generator will take its revenge and win the fight against the cold!

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