Journalist Report – February 20th

Sol 8 – Exploring the 8th continent

“The men of Earth came to Mars. They came because they were afraid or unafraid, because they were happy or unhappy, because they felt like Pilgrims or did not feel like Pilgrims. There was a reason for each man.”

– – Chapter 8 of The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

The members of today’s EVA crew definitely felt like explorers, if not pilgrims, unafraid to take on an unexplored Martian area! We were very excited this morning to launch the photogrammetry experiment by sending out the first of six EVA crews. Alice, the EVA leader, followed by Quentin and Adrien, headed out to North Ridge to begin 3D-mapping a specific area for other EVA crews to visit later during the mission. The objective is to compare how performance during an EVA (for example, how fast an astronaut can find a designated spot in unknown Martian terrain) is affected by showing the crew members a 3D map of the area beforehand. After today’s “reconnaissance EVA”, two other crews will go to the same location: one will have been given a 3D-map generated thanks to drone imagery, and another will only be given a 2D map. After arriving on-site, the crew members had to immerse themselves in the space to determine the best place from which to launch our Parrot drone. It was then flown over the chosen area by Quentin while Alice decided which spots would be the target areas for the next crew.

Since I will be part of the next EVA returning to the same location, I was therefore not allowed to see the photogrammetry render for myself, but was told it turned out amazing! Quentin was surprised to see that the generated map extended far wider than expected, beyond the area actually explored by the astronauts. The landscape is well-defined, with all rocks more than a meter high detected and rendered with great precision.

This EVA’s other objectives were also completed: Alice gathered some samples for her geology experiment, and the crew ran some more tests on MegaAres and retrieved data from the weather station before heading to North Ridge. In sum, apart from a few communication issues, the EVA was successful!

After debriefing the EVA during lunch, Alexandre reviewed the schedule to find time to solve a problem with MegaAres: after today’s tests, it was confirmed that part of the metallic sphere is not connected to the rest of the electrical circuit; tomorrow morning’s EVA will be necessary to retrieve the spherical part of the antenna to “debug it”.

It felt good to find ourselves all working together in the Upper Deck of the Hab as the afternoon progressed; I feel like we are becoming more and more accustomed to life as a crew, and considering each other as team members and co-workers, but also as friends.

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