Journalist Report – February 15th

Sol 11: Rehoming Rocks and Writing Reports

The crew had to have an early morning today, despite us all being rather tired, as our first EVA was departing at 0930. There was no organisation for making a group breakfast, so cereal it was. Except for Mehnaz, who chose cookies and peanut butter as her breakfast. But it was the breakfast of champions, as she was out there on the first EVA, along with Annalea and me.

The first EVA of the day went to locations between Marble Ritual and Pooh’s Corner to return various field samples that we had taken throughout Crew 292, as well as during Crew 291. For a whole lot of field samples that took a lot of time, energy, rover battery, and suit preparations to collect, they were remarkably easy to return, and we finished our EVA early. Though not without Mehnaz capturing some videos and photos of us all!

During our repressurisation time in the airlock, Annalea joked about wondering if anyone had made fresh bread for us. To our surprise and delight, though no fresh bread had been made, Daniel was in the process of baking a cake! By the time we had gotten out of our EVA suits and put our things away, the cake was out of the oven, and Daniel was off to the Science Dome to continue his lab work extracting DNA from a few biological samples we had taken over the duration of Crew 292. He had opted out of the morning EVA (after consultation with Mission Support) to ensure he could complete his lab work, but we were also grateful that he had chosen to bake a cake, too.

However it wasn’t long before all the Mangalyartis were feeling hungry, and we recalled Daniel from the Science Dome for lunch. Bharti and I had made jambalaya for everyone and put in lots of extra veggies. This was followed by Daniel’s cake, which had been iced and then decorated in the red, green, and blue of the Mars flag. Our verdict: delicious! Another success for Crew Baker … I mean Crew Biologist Daniel!

After lunch, we had another EVA to return samples to their geological homes. This time, Aditya, Rajvi, Bharti, and I drove to the dry creek crossing on Cow Dung Rd, just north of Cowboy Corner and then back to Cowboy Corner itself. A sprinkle of rain did make us think for a moment that we might have to abort our EVA without completing our goals of sample return, but a quick conversation with HabCom and Mission Support let us know that it would quickly pass, and we would be ok to stay out on the EVA and finish everything up. Much like this morning’s EVA, the sample return process was much quicker and easier than anticipated. So, with those rocks newly returned to their homes, and my backpack feeling much lighter (both physically and metaphorically), we spent a few final moments taking photos and videos to remember our time at this amazing research station.

Throughout all the EVAs, those at home had maintained their report writing, as we are hoping to be well-prepared for our end-of-mission reports and all successive reports and papers that we will write up from the research conducted here at the MDRS. Though Daniel managed to continue his DNA extractions, and by the time the second EVA crew had returned, he was ready to pour a gel for his gel electrophoresis and make his DNA ladder to compare results against. As I had wandered over to the Science Dome to check for any spare rocks that may need returning to their homes on our way out of here in the next few days, I was recruited to help Daniel with this process. Annalea also wandered over to the Science Dome right when the gel needed pouring, so she was also recruited to pour the gel. The Mangalyatris are all feeling pretty proud of our newfound microbiology skills, and we all have Daniel to thank for teaching us!

As the sun sets and the evening gets darker, the crew has been focused on more report writing and really just enjoying the last remaining time we have on Mars. The Mangalyatris are a well-oiled machine now. As I write this, Annalea is cooking dinner (with the promise of my help, hence me wrapping up), Bharti and Rajvi are writing reports, Mehnaz and Aditya are collecting salad greens, tomatoes, and herbs for the dinner from the GreenHab, and Daniel is sitting up in the loft area (presumably relaxing or writing about his day in one of his many notebooks).

Dinner prep calls me,

Clare Fletcher (292 Mangalyatri Journalist)

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