Journalist Report – February 16th

Sol 12: Life on Mars

Well, it’s the final sol for Crew Mangalyatri, and my goodness did Mars put on a gorgeous sunrise for us today! Today, all our sadness about leaving has been replaced with panic about cleaning the research station for the incoming Crew 293. But we didn’t bother worrying until after breakfast. It was another day for pancakes, and Daniel wisely suggested putting choc-chips in them. Good idea!

Once breakfast was complete, the cleaning began. First with the Science Dome, GreenHab, and RAM, and then the Hab itself. I have to say, the place is looking great! We blast off from Mars and back to Earth at 1200. That is to say, we break sim and can go about our lives as we normally would on Earth, e.g., not worrying about airlocks, being able to go outside without our EVA suits on, and being able to access the phone/internet outside of comms hours. Our plan once we break sim is to have lunch and then play tourist in the area and look at some more geology (woohoo, rocks!), before coming back for the night and doing our final cleaning tomorrow.

In lieu of anything particularly interesting happening today, I’m going to ask all the Mangalyatris what their favourite moment of this mission has been and to include their favourite photo from our time at MDRS.

Annalea (Commander): She has two! Which I guess I’ll allow as she’s the Commander. Her first is when she saw the dehydrated mango in the kitchen cupboard, which she then proceeded to eat most of. Annalea’s next favourite moment was decompressing in the airlock, wearing the EVA suit for the first EVA.

Aditya (XO & Crew Astronomer): Playing cards, specifically the first UNO game, which went on for AT LEAST 10 rounds and got sillier and sillier each round, resulting in a lot of laughter and a lot more of us saying “just one more round” and “I just want to win ONE game”.

Bharti (Crew Geologist): As a geologist, I have come across benchmarks many a time, but I don’t know why this feels certainly emotional as I was saying I am not that emotional currently when the mission is getting over but on the last EVA looking at the benchmark reminded me that someone before us put it there and this land has been explored many a time which may be or may not be the case for Mars. Either I’ll be one of the few geologists who will map and survey the Martian land, and maybe we will put it there. Or maybe we will go out after some people and see a similar benchmark on Mars. I don’t know if that makes sense at all, or I was just emotional for a very brief period of time. But yeah, here it is, the benchmark.

Mehnaz (GreenHab Officer): When we went to Candor Chasma, and we hiked there inside the canyon and the rough driving on the rover. Also, she said when I (Clare) make nice pancakes in the morning, and every time in the morning she wants something sweet, she wakes up to the smell of me making pancakes. How sweet of her to say!

Rajvi (Crew Engineer): The drive back from Candor Chasma in the EVA suit and the view of the Henry Mountains on that drive back. They were so beautiful covered in snow, and appeared so big and close, but at the same time, they were so different from our immediate surrounding landscape. Rajvi thought it might be a bumpy ride on the way back, but it wasn’t, instead, it was just a breathtaking moment. She said that it was really hard to pick a favourite moment, because everything was so good, and she loved it here. She also has a last-minute add of working on the space suits.

Daniel (Crew Biologist): Daniel’s favourite moment was the first time that DNA was successfully extracted from a collected sample, with attached annotated gel image to see. This was from the first sampling EVA, and while DNA was only obtained from one other soil sample out of 9 other samples, this was a great start and allowed the project to move forward.

Me, Clare (Crew Journalist): My time in the Science Dome. I painted in there with Annalea while Daniel did microbiology experiments. I taught Rajvi about testing for carbonates with vinegar and about breaking rocks while Daniel did his microbiology experiments and Annalea painted. I learned about said microbiology experiments from Daniel and learned how to pipette, pour a gel for gel electrophoresis, learned to prepare a DNA ladder, and learned that I was bad a shaking the tubes which contained samples and small beads to break the cells and extract DNA in lieu of a vortex. The Science Dome was a meeting of minds and a confluence of disciplines that I’ll miss in my everyday life.

So long, and thanks for all the fish,

Clare Fletcher (292 Mangalyatri Journalist)

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