Journalist Report – March 1th

Sol 17 – Saving Private LOAC

“Somewhere above, beyond, far off, was the sun.”

– – Chapter 17 of The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

I think Mars wants us off its turf… we awoke once again to the absurdity of snow in a warm, red desert. Our EVA to Candor Chasma was effectively cancelled, leaving Quentin and Alice, responsible for the photogrammetry experiment, with somewhat of a sinking feeling. Without the perspective of this EVA, it was a bit harder to get ourselves started, but it was quickly decided that we would get ahead and do our morning tasks for Sol 18 in advance. Corentin and Jérémy therefore started an EchoFinder session while Alice took a cognitive test in the Hab.

As the morning advanced and the temperatures rose, the thin layer of snow quickly melted, allowing us to conduct an emergency EVA to save the LOAC, an instrument prone to damage due to humidity, and change the other instruments’ batteries. In less than 30 minutes we were suited up: Alice, Adrien, and I would be guided by Quentin as HabCom, who could also give us technical advice from the Hab. While we managed to change the batteries, retrieve the data and reset the instruments, the field mill could not be rebooted, and the weather station was soaked: the screen stayed blank, no matter how hard I tried… We took the latter back inside the Hab to be inspected, as well as the LOAC.

Over lunch, we discussed our childhood reading habits, a conversation well suited to a rainy day. We were glad to have brought the LOAC back in before it started raining and snowing again by mid-afternoon: Alexandre took good care of him, letting him dry out and delicately brushing off any Martian dust that could have messed with the electronics. Restless as ever, I could not help but keep looking out the window to witness what I could not act upon. While few things are as frustrating to me as not being able to act on a problem, Alice is affected by the weather more than most, as she is in charge of both the photogrammetry and geology EVAs, and has to constantly adapt an already very complex schedule.

On a more positive note, Quentin has written some code to plot the different environmental data as functions of time, to correlate them with our activities within the station. He agreed to explain the graphs included in today’s batch of photos:

“ This is the evolution of 3 environmental parameters (temperature, humidity and light) as a function of time in the five rooms of the MDRS. By linking this information with physiological parameters, researchers can deduce how stressful a particular environment is.

But they can also simply reflect the activity of the Crew members during the day! In rectangle 1, we can see the evolution of the temperature in the GreenHab, which is heated during night. The temperature decreases, until the lower limit is attained, the heater is then switched on, and the temperature increases. And every half hour or so, this cycle is repeated!

In the rectangle 2, we can see the brightness increasing in the Lower Deck (yellow curve): somebody has switched on the light. But even more interesting: the humidity is increasing as well. Indeed, it’s time for our daily workout in the Lower Deck! ”

On this very Earth-like rainy day, I think it’s important to mention our very own “Mission Support” back on Earth. Every day, they work hard so that these very reports may reach their destination. Message from Crew 275 to Crew 293: Thank you for being our link to our home planet, and for occasionally sending in soccer and rugby scores…

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