Sol Summary – December 28th

Sol: 4

Summary Title: Sol Four: Chert Galore

Author’s Name: Adriana Brown

Mission Status: Nominal

Sol Activity Status:

Sol 4 began at a brisk 7:30 AM with nutella and strawberry crepes by Riya (GHO) (my personal favorite breakfast so far). Luckily, the crews’ friendships survived last night’s game of UNO (especially notable for Nathan and Adi). The crew used their morning comms window to send messages to our mission control at Purdue, which is staying busy sending us requested reference materials, saving our uploaded sensor data, and advising on robot and drone projects. It’s nice to know we have friends in Earthly places.

After breakfast, Adi (SCI), with the help of much of the crew, worked on designing a mount for the drone which started as a full Lego brick harness and ended as three strategically placed rubber bands. No one can say we over-engineered this one! Meanwhile, Adriana (CO) consumed stratigraphy papers and a large bowl of cereal in preparation for the day’s EVA to Barrainca Butte. At 11:00 AM, the crew departed. Adriana, Eshaana (GEO), Nathan (ENG), and Sara (XO) drove southward of the Hab and then walked on foot to Barrainca Butte. During their drive, they were forced to stop when a small, high-pitched canine alien with an exceptionally poor sense of self-preservation decided to make its home in the center of Cow Dung Road. Luckily, the alien was soon called away and they continued. Their journey was strikingly beautiful. As they traversed over the plain towards the Butte, they trod over sloping river-cut sandbanks, delicately scattered ripples, and brilliantly colored rocks of green, blue, red, and orange (and every color in between). As you may be able to guess from the title of this report, many of these rocks were chert. Although a common mineral, it is one of surprising variety and can contain a truly astounding palette of colors.

Although no oyster fossils were found, Adriana was pleased to note a "bentonite swarm" that will be useful in constraining the ages of previously collected oyster samples. Eshaana was kind enough to pose as her "bentonite model" so that the scale of the swarm can be evaluated back at the Hab. Even without fossils, the crew still returned with heavier pockets thanks to the chert scattered about. Fortunately, just as the EVA crew felt hunger gnawing at their stomachs, they depressurized and entered the upper deck of the Hab to the delicious aroma of homemade pizza with freshly dissolved Tang. With a full stomach, Adriana went to work in the Science Dome to organize her field notes, label oysters, and catalogue her samples. In the GreenHab, Riya was busy testing the pH of the soil and water and composted coffee grounds and leftover dehydrated broccoli. Excitingly, we have new kale, lettuce, and arugula sprouts. Meanwhile, Gabe was the first crew member to embark on potentially the most exciting EVA yet. After gathering all his gear (towel, shampoo, conditioner), he walked on foot down Hab Stairs road until reaching his final destination: the shower. Other crew members soon followed.

This evening, Adriana and Eshaana discussed different geological hypotheses from their field notes and observations so far, diving deep into Tununk stratigraphy and the near-MDRS paleoenvironment. The Hab is filled with the sounds of report-writing, robot whirring, sizzling Indian dishes, freshly delivered research equipment from Earth (thank you, Mission Support!), and the nightly lower deck conversations by Nathan and Adi (if you have any burning questions about relativity, dark matter, or the fundamental nature of our existence, please send them through the proper communication channels!). Here’s to another productive sol for Crew 289!

Look Ahead Plan: LiDAR scanning with drone (EVA #6 to Hab Ridge)

Anomalies in work: None

Weather: Sunny with few clouds

Crew Physical Status: Nominal

EVA: geologic EVA #5 to Barrainca Butte

Reports to be filed: Journalist Report, Greenhab Report, Operations Report, Sol Summary, Astronomy Report, Photos, EVA report, EVA request

Support Requested: None

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