Journalist Report – January 1st

Sara Paule, Crew 289 Journalist & Executive Officer
Sol 8
Crew 289 got a bit of a later start today after staying up late here on Mars to ring in the new year for humanity. With an EVA planned for noon, that start was not substantially later – more like 9 am than the usual 7/7:30 am. This meant that a number of folks missed the morning internet window (7:30-9 am MT) but no one particularly regretted the choice. We have slightly more communication with Earth than anticipated pre-mission – our evening internet access lasts from 6:30-9:30 pm MT – yet, our communication windows with Earth remain highly limited with crew responsibilities taking up the majority of that time, whether accessing materials to further our research, sharing photos from the day, processing LiDAR, or contending with the all-important 2-hour window of reporting into Mission Support. We love you fam and friends, but if your astronauts are quiet, it is likely because we ate up our time with mission-specific tasks, which definitely includes sleep.
We collected more rock samples and more LiDAR scans, some, in fact, of rocks, during today’s EVA. Typically, we reserve the LiDAR treatment for the type that are too large to fit in our pockets but the team is gaining additional facility with LiDAR after initial experiences with the technology in the field and is thinking up new ways to deploy the tool, including possibly a future scan of one of Rocky’s devil’s toes (her collected oyster fossils, this is not a new nickname for her feet). Today we also rescanned the Habitat in an attempt to improve on the earlier scan now that we have established our technique with Riya’s elevated monopod (phone on a stick). Each member of today’s EVA crew, Adriana (Rocky), Eshaana (Butter), Riya (Pots), and me (Zinger), took turns so the scan would not suffer from overly tired arms.
Upon our return to station from the short drive south to Kissing Camel Ridge, we walked into a pre-prepared feast. Aditya (Michelin), Gabe (Terminator), and Nathan (Shrub) were inspired in the kitchen and cooked up mac & cheese with a side of ground beef for those who desired it, green beans & cauliflower, mashed potatoes, and cheesy biscuits. Out of respect for me and Pots, the crew has been very kindly maintaining a vegetarian diet and only cooking up meat supplements on the side. (It is muchly appreciated, crew!)
Tonight, we will enjoy some fresh lettuce and kale for our dinner which was grown in the Greenhouse by Pots and the preceding GreenHab Officers. Many thanks to all who have provided for us through their labor and careful tending of our green growing friends from seed to sprout to nutrition source. On Earth, gardening is certainly a source of joy but on Mars it is truly a life-giving endeavor and the import does genuinely feel stronger here.
Our Crew Engineer has also been working on a unique side project today. The stair/ladder from the lower deck to the upper deck of the hab is steel with raised ovoid cut outs (basically, imagine mouths with spiky teeth) for traction. While house shoes for wearing around the hab are highly recommended on the packing list, Shrub forgot his. (I think we all forgot something or thought we could do without. My mistake was foregoing the saline nasal spray. Poor, poor life choice.) Shrub has made it through 8 sols without indoor shoes/slippers but his sock soles have suffered and his feet are quite a bit more aerated now than they were early on in mission. His new high-tech Mars shoeware involves a clever repurposing of cardboard, strings, and tape. His prototype maybe leaves something to be desired but the fashion modeling is reasonably on point, or, would be if everyone wasn’t dying of laughter.
In other happy news, the crew is clean again! Woo, for shower 2 of mission. Baby wipes can do a lot but it is not the same level of refreshing as showering. We are eagerly awaiting our navy shower versus bucket shower water usage results though I fear the data may be a bit dubious with so many other water needs also depleting our resources. That’s okay though, it will give us rich fodder for debate tonight over dinner.

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