Journalist Report – February 10th

Sol 6: Outside at last!
Well, it snowed again overnight. And today, none of us were quite so enthusiastic about it, knowing that it would cancel the EVA we had planned for the afternoon. But we kept our hopes up, thinking that if the snow melted and the ground dried enough, we might still be able to go on the EVA.
To ensure we got some exercise either way, we did some yoga in the Hab after a bit of furniture rearranging. Rajvi led the session, and the whole crew joined in. We definitely all felt well stretched and ready for the day ahead afterwards.
The morning was tense, watching and waiting for the snow to melt, all while trying to get some good work done. However, looking out the window every few minutes in anticipation makes it pretty hard to work! By 1130 it was looking fairly dry, and we were feeling hopeful, so at 1200 we radioed Mission Support to check in about the weather. Thankfully, outside was as dry as it looked, and we were given the green light to go ahead with the EVA but proceed with caution as some areas remained muddy.
We hurried to have lunch, and then it was time to put on our EVA suits and go outside! We were looking for concretions that had been found at a site of white mudstone yardangs, which we found after a bit of walking back and forth. The four Mangalyatris on the EVA were enjoying being out and about, as well as actually finding some of our research targets close to the Hab. Our efficiency in the field meant a return before the proposed return time – no frolicking on Mars.
Once back at the Hab the EVA crew discussed the geology and geomorphology they had seen with the resident geologist, Bharti. We also handed over some puddle water to the Crew Biologist Daniel for his continued microbial studies.
While the EVA had been going on, the three back at the Hab certainly hadn’t been idle. Daniel managed to extract DNA from the soil samples returned on Sol 4. What a great success! We’re all patiently awaiting his further PCR tests (after already conducting a non-targeted PCR and gel electrophoresis). Bharti and Annalea helped as HabCom (which Bharti quite enjoyed, given her excitable nature), but equally continued their work on geology and art, respectively. Bharti has a base map coming along nicely, and Annalea’s artworks are uncannily lifelike. The Hab crew also put in some cooking effort to start dinner and dessert preparations (I hear there’s a cobbler on the way).
Sol 6 has felt like it’s ending as soon as it’s begun. All the Mangalyatris are feeling enthusiastic about the possibility of clearer weather and therefore more EVAs! We’re also all excited to see each other’s projects returning results. It’s hard to believe this is already the middle of our mission, but the second half will surely be even more successful than the first half.
Glad to see results coming in,
Clare Fletcher (292 Mangalyatri Journalist)

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