Crew 261 Journalist Report 10-05-2023
Author: Kris Davidson, Crew Journalist
The phrase "Ex Astra" means "from the stars," while "Ad Astra" means "to the stars." Together, they represent the concept that all life on Earth comprises the same elements that were created in the cores of stars billions of years ago, implying that we are all connected to the immense expanse of the universe.
This concept has garnered new significance in recent years as our comprehension of the cosmos has deepened. With each passing day, we draw closer to voyaging to Mars and beyond. Scientists now understand that the building blocks of life, such as carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen, were birthed within stars that ultimately exploded as supernovae, dispersing these elements throughout the galaxy. "Ad Astra" is not merely a scientific notion. It also carries profound philosophical and spiritual implications. The idea of unity, our fundamental connection to the universe, can evoke a sense of awe and wonder.
On Sol 10, Transatlantic Mars Crew 261 welcomed a TV journalist from Salt Lake City. During EVA 16, the reporter spent time interviewing the crew and observing Crew Engineer Julien Villa-Massone as he tested the Adapa drone. The journalist also filmed Crew Roboticist Erin Kennedy’s ongoing testing of Atmosphinder.
Kennedy has been diligently progressing toward a test with the Atmosphinder robot involving human-to-robot interaction. Observing Erin’s communication with the robot she created, coupled with the journalist’s reportage, invokes a sense of awe at the multiple layers of sentience and observation at play. As we, the humans at MDRS, stand on Earth simultaneously creating and reporting from the idea of Mars, we are sentient stardust, working alongside the artificial intelligences we have created. We are not only alive and witnessing this universe but also actively interacting with it in complex and creative ways as we progress Ad Astra.
In a separate gesture of observation and celebration of the wonders of the universe, on Sol 10, Commander James Burk, Executive Officer Aline Decadi, Crew Engineer Julien Villa-Massone, and HSO Audrey Derobertmasure embarked on EVA 15 to explore Candor Chasma where they initiated drone flights to produce outreach footage. Back at the MDRS campus, Greenhab Officer/Crew Biologist Cécile Renaud spent the morning prepping tomato leaf samples for further analysis back on Earth.
Elements birthed from stars have coalesced to form planets, including our own, and eventually life as we comprehend it. This signifies that every atom within our bodies, in the tomato leaves that Renaud will analyze, was once part of a star. The concept of Ex Astra and Ad Astra has attained new significance as our understanding of the cosmos continues to deepen, as we strive to return to our cosmic origins. Stardust courses through our veins. We enter this world—into consciousness—through a convergence of storylines and stardusted bloodlines that have already spanned across all of time.