Journalist Report – December 29th

Sara Paule, Crew 289 Journalist & Executive Officer
Sol 5
We have reached an all-important milestone here at Crew 289: Everyone now has call signs! There are a number of philosophies for generating useful call signs, for example, clarity on the radio or really encapsulating each other’s personalities in a single word. Our philosophy, well, maybe you should judge for yourself based on the back stories.
Adriana (CO) – Rocky
Geologist Rocky got her call sign when serving on Crew 272. Serving for her second stint at MDRS in 2023, she will celebrate back-to-back Martian new year’s! She earned her name based on her passion – rocks – and her very full flight suit pockets. She is trying hard to return to Earth with fewer rocks this rotation than last. We’ll see how she does!
Riya – Pots
You might think that GreenHab Officer Riya got her nickname in association with her duties growing plants. While an apt appellation in that regard, you’d be incorrect about the origin story. Instead, early on in mission she told a joke in the kitchen that just didn’t land (turns out I wholly misheard her). When I just stared at her blinking for a bit, the whole crew started laughing. Turns out, she asked me what you get when you spell “stop” backwards. So, in some ways, I guess I cursed her with her moniker but, I don’t feel badly because we discovered today that it fits in so many ways when she declared, “I want to take ceramics! I want to learn to throw pots!” And, that was not a joke.
Sara – Zinger
Despite my lack of facility with humor as demonstrated from the above anecdote, amusingly, I earned my call sign for my jokes. When I am comfortable around people, I will attempt humor and sometimes it lands. Yesterday I had a few good ones (one in association with the alien dog incident). They stood out in comparison to zero jokes from the prior days.
Gabe – Terminator
Our Health and Safety Officer nearly lost his job to a robot and that’s how he earned his sobriquet. One of the projects Riya is noodling with is designing a portable health facility that could be taken out with folks on EVA – a robot. When we realized that Gabe would need to become a robot to keep his job, he earned his name. We justified it in that Gabe is an astronomer and “terminator” is also the word used for the shadow line of the dark versus light side on a planet. Really, that’s just an excuse though.
Eshaana – Butter
One evening, Eshaana was trying to teach Adi an American accent. Delivered with an amazingly good, yet terrifyingly perfect valley girl, her word of choice for tutelage was “butter.” Apparently, she cultivated an American accent during her time fundraising for Purdue and while surely great for that purpose, it makes the team shudder every time. But-ter.
Aditya – Michelin
Don’t believe him when he tells you he got his call sign for his ability as a chef. While his cooking is solid, he got it because his puffer coat makes him look a bit like a tire. That makes perfect sense, right?
Nathan – Shrub
Our crew engineer interacted with a plant. Once. A shrub. In fact, he took a picture of it when GreenHab Officer Riya insisted he do so. He’s since pointed out a number of them on EVAs so now he’s Shrub.
As you can tell, the crew is really coming together. The camaraderie is really great as is the science. Today was a good day for both. We discussed bucket list travel locations, hotspots at Purdue, movies, books, favorite superheroes, and space science. Everyone also made solid progress on their various research projects. There was a lot of quiet time this afternoon and evening throughout the hab as folks processed data, troubleshot projects, and engineered sensors and robots. A morning EVA also was very productive. The team generated LiDAR scans of the hab and HabRidge with carefully engineered scanning equipment – an elevated monopod (phone on a stick) and FLiDAR (drone with a phone). Post-processing, we will be able to compare scans and methodologies. You need a flair for creative problem solving, ingenuity, and persistence to get things done on Mars. A sense of humor isn’t strictly necessary but it surely makes everything much more pleasant for everyone.

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