Journalist Report – December 26th

Sara Paule, Crew 289 Journalist & Executive Officer
Sol 2
Today marks our first full day on Mars. Now it feels like we are really living here since familiarity and the beginnings of routine are setting in. People are establishing themselves in their Hab niches such that if someone is not in your visual field, you still *know* where they are, and that sense of surety is supplemented by comms throughout the Hab which allow us to report in and, perhaps most importantly, easily call everyone to meals. We also have established our communal meal table as a place to gather and share joy. The seven of us regularly gather around it to eat, converse, plan, troubleshoot, and philosophize. Early celebrations of Christmas on Mars and tasty meals have helped cement crew camaraderie and firmly established our dining table as a central gathering area.
On the topic of food, let me tempt you, dear reader, with a brief diary of our meals for the day. Breakfast, supplied by Gabe (HSO) was blueberry pancakes. They were a triumph for his first-time cooking pancakes and everyone remarked on the excitement of the very, very blue pancakes. (Reconstituting freeze-dried blueberries via a soak and the need to be water savvy meant that both blueberries and water went into the batter!) Lunch was a huge pan full of veggie-filled fried rice prepared by Adriana (CO) with an assist from Nathan (ENG) and supplemented by fresh greenhouse herbs. Everyone commented on the amazing aroma as they drifted up the stairs. For dinner, Eshaana (GEO) and Aditya (SCI) cooked a Thai curry, Korean Barbeque Chicken, and supplemented it all with a mango salad. We decided to skip fresh-made dessert tonight in favor of treats brought from Earth after already having gone through a number of rounds of dish washing. (Whether on Mars or Earth-bound, who does not want a break from dish washing?)
Eating is not the only high point of living on Mars! Today the crew accomplished two EVAs in beautiful, if chilly conditions.
The morning EVA crew, who completed their training EVA, went out with the Hab weather station declaring the external temperature as -9C. Thankfully, suiting up plus sunshine is enough to keep explorers warm with the right equipment. Adriana, Nathan, and Riya rolled out to Marble Ritual and secured more rocks for admiring. (Rocks are a primary past-time of Martian explorers.) Commander Adriana, supplied a brief geology lesson that those on comms back on station tuned into eagerly despite the lack of visuals on our end.
After their return and just before noon, Riya (GH) suited up for her second EVA of the day! Aditya, Gabe, and I joined her for a multi-priority mission at Pooh’s Corner. (We encountered no cartoons but did see a few aliens and their transports.) A ton was accomplished on our first research EVA! First up, Aditya flew a drone test flight to ascertain whether Garud, the Purdue drone, could assist E.L.F. with locomotion in the field. Pre-EVA, Aditya fashioned a basket that we could load up with rocks to measure the max weight the drone could lift. Lego-friend Jarold (Jerry) accompanied the rocks on the test flight and suffered a number of fatalities throughout EVA such that he made it back to Hab in pieces, but, thankfully, no more than those he was originally assembled from! Garud was then decoupled from his basket and sent off to Scout Candor Chasma, an important task for planning for future EVAs to test out the mobility of E.L.F. and also a great way to get some amazing footage. In the two-hour EVA window, Riya was also able to complete LIDAR scanning of rock feature in the landscape. Her scans are helping us to better understand the landscape and potential areas for expansion of our Mars base.
The day was filled with other research tasks as well as general maintenance tasks like resecuring mission patches on flight suits, re-sewing EVA harness straps to ensure secure radios, servicing packs, and cleaning. It was a good Sol 2.

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