Journalist Report – March 8th

Sol 24 – Panic at the Aquaponics

“A toast to all of you; it’s good to be with friends again.”

– Chapter 24 of The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

The shuttle landed in the night, not far from the Mars Desert Research Station. Alice, Corentin and I stepped out, treading lightly as the gentle Martian gravity welcomed us back. Light burst from the main airlock window; our crew was waiting for us! Waving hands and smiling faces were gathered behind the second airlock door, waiting for the pressure to equalize. When Jérémy let us in, I felt like I was home. I would have hugged them all, if I had had two functioning arms! The crew was reunited once and for all, ready to finish our mission together.

This morning, like every morning, at the beginning of the daily workout, the song Cheerleader came on, and though I desperately wanted to join in, I simply tapped my feet, and smiled at the thought that for the rest of the mission, I could be my team’s very own cheerleader!

Almost everything feels like it is going back to normal: after a few strange and chaotic Sols, we are all managing to ease back into our routine: taking our tests, handling data for our experiments, writing our reports. This makes me think that I have not yet mentioned what has been taking up most of Alice’s time these past few Sols. As crew Scientist, she is responsible for centralizing all the data our experiments produce, from images captured during EchoFinder sessions, to the many daily surveys each crewmember takes. To put it her way: “I don’t do data handling. I do big data handling!”
Throughout the day, we continued testing AI4U, prompting it with an emergency protocol written by Alexandre and Quentin which we aim to start simulating tomorrow: at a random time during the day, an alarm will go off, indicating the depressurization of one of the station’s modules. We will then test whether the AI is useful in getting us organized and helping us execute the emergency procedure!

Yesterday, Jérémy wrote that despite the circumstances, routine operations that keep the station up and running have never ceased taking place. Most notably, Adrien has continuously taken good care of the GreenHab. Unfortunately, for unknown reasons, a second fish has ascended to fish-heaven today. Out of the eight fishes originally brought to the MDRS by Adrien, we have lost both Mercury and Jupiter. Our botanist’s hypotheses range from a sudden increase in pH, to the possible emergence of bacteria, to the increasing temperatures in the GreenHab. The investigation is ongoing…

Although accumulated stress, our lack of sleep, and general state of fatigue are starting to take their toll on the crew after more than three weeks on Mars, surprisingly, one thing comes up more and more often in conversations: not wanting to leave…

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