Journalist Report – February 14th

Sol 10: Happy Valentine’s Day to the Rocks (we love rocks)

It was a sleepy morning in the Hab after lots of days of EVAs and everyone working really hard on their research. We had a simple breakfast of cheesy garlic scones (biscuits, if you’re American), and then got on with the day’s work.

A few of us did some cleaning and laundry. The laundry is sorely needed at this point, and we’re all covered in a layer of local dirt! While we didn’t separate into the different Habs this morning, we all worked separately on our various research projects. Bharti has been writing her paper on her research conducted here, as have I. Bharti now has a literature review and study area geology section complete, while I have mostly analysed data. Annalea, Rajvi, and Daniel spent the morning working on reports as we are all keen to begin our reports early so as not to be rushed to do them at the end of our mission. It is also helping us to take stock of whether or not we’ve met our research goals and anything else that might need to be done in the final few days of our mission. This morning, Aditya submitted some observations for the remote telescope, and Mehnaz continued to work on her code for her research project.

Annalea also worked on a lunch of coconut rice and dhal, which was delicious and also fueled our afternoon EVA team who were heading to Candor Chasma (same as yesterday, but the other 4 members of the crew). Daniel led the charge to Candor Chasma with Rajvi navigating, and Aditya followed with Mehnaz in the passenger seat. They made good time and the rovers didn’t even hit their 55% charge turn-back point when they pulled up. The EVA crew thoroughly enjoyed Candor Chasma, particularly noting the different types of gypsum in the Summerville Formation, some of which they sampled to bring back to the Hab as part of all our research and for a slightly more confident ID by the resident geologists.

Back at the Hab, Annalea continued report writing, and Bharti continued writing her paper. I served as HabCom while also continuing to analyse my data and then prepare the samples I had collected for their return to their original locations. We discussed what EVAs to conduct to return samples, and also discussed the importance of knowing where samples came from and returning them to their original locations for geoconservation purposes. This is what I have been researching while I’m here, so much of the afternoon revolved around that, even after the EVA team returned.

After the EVA, Rajvi and I also discussed different types of gypsum and anhydrite and what they look like, as well as their water content (or lack thereof). Daniel taught Mehnaz how to use his Bento Lab equipment, and they did a targeted PCR and two DNA extractions, one on soil and one on the “yellow goo”. The rest of the crew focused on their report writing once the EVA had returned.

I sorted all my own samples, as well as those from Crew 291, and the additional basket of rocks that had been at the Hab when I first arrived with Crew 291. I explained to Rajvi and Annalea why I was saddened by the basket of rocks left here for an unknown time – it included polished rocks, some of which were clearly not from the area and had no scientific relevance. Also, the rocks maintain much of their informative value when still in their context (though sampling is still necessary in many instances), and when permanently removed their only value is in either further study (e.g., pXRF, XRD, thin sections, etc.), better ID of the rock/mineral, or aesthetic value. Most of the knowledge remains in the field, with the rock sample still there.

Loving you, but leaving you where you are,

Clare Fletcher (292 Mangalyatri Journalist)

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