Sol 19 – Under the Spotlight
“All down the way the pursued and the pursuing, the dream and the dreamers”
– Chapter 19 of The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
After many Sols spent in the Martian storms, the conditions were ideal for the second photogrammetry EVA at Candor Chasma! The BBC film crew followed them for the first part of the EVA to North Ridge, before returning to the Hab to interview some of the crewmembers. The outing was a success: with only notes taken from the 2D map, Jérémy and Alexandre managed to find all 10 checkpoints in time. They came back to the Hab in time for a delicious lunch: a lentil Dahl prepared by Adrien, and a bowlful of cherry tomatoes from the GreenHab! I also took the time to prepare a batch of bread this morning, while Alice was HabCom and the others were out on EVA. I noticed how calming it was for me to focus on this task while letting my thoughts wander off for a little while, and talking to Alice when communication with the EVA crew was cut off. Moments shared with only one or two other crewmembers are rare, as we are almost always together during meals and after dinner, our only breaks during the day. Only late at night when most of the crew has gone off to sleep, or during moments like the one shared with Alice this morning, can we enjoy one-on-one conversations. I would say it is one of the things I miss the most about Earth!
In the afternoon, I visited Alice in the Science Dome, and she explained to me how she analyzed her rock samples gathered during the last EVA: using a stack of sieves with finer and finer meshes, she can separate the different size of grains present in a sandstone, and weigh the different parts to get an idea of the rocks’ composition. In the GreenHab, Adrien harvested spinach and showed me how well the plants in the aquaponics system had grown! The root system is now four times as dense as in the beginning of the mission. Aquaponics could be an interesting way of envisioning agriculture in space: no dirt is required, the water circulates within a closed loop, and the systems allows crops to be “planted” much closer to each other, optimizing the available space.
Back at the Hab, Corentin had prepared pancakes, and Quentin was analyzing the data from this morning’s EVA, retracing the crew’s steps through the canyon to better compare it with the next EVA, using the 3D maps!