Journalist Report – February 20th

SOL 2: Slowly settling down

“The boy understood intuitively what he meant, even without ever having set foot in the desert before. Whenever he saw the sea, or a fire, he fell silent, impressed by their elemental force.” – The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho

This morning, during our daily workout, we turned our eyes towards the round window of the Hab Upper Deck. In the distance, the rounded Martian hill of Phobos Peak was like a cutout printed against a perfectly red sky. We let ourselves get temporarily lost in this empty vastness of Mars, and we realized the landscape’s beauty. We are far away from Earth, but we are so lucky that our eyes can gaze upon such an incredible and unique sight. Happy to be together and peaceful thanks to this view, our sports session was beneficial for all of us, and the Sol could start!

This morning, I assisted Yves and Marie in the Science Dome in performing the first session of the EchoFinder experiment. In this experiment from CNES, the French Space Agency, we perform ultrasounds with the help of an AI and virtual reality. The objective is to capture good quality images of pre-defined organs, to see if untrained astronauts could use ultrasound imaging to keep track of their health. That way, during a space mission, astronauts can be autonomous in recording images, and doctors on Earth can analyze them correctly. For our mission, Marie is the subject on which we can perform ultrasounds. Yves, who is the Crew member responsible for this experiment, is the first operator. He set up the software and hardware; it always takes more time when it’s the first try! He managed to ultrasound our commander’s carotid, guided by QR Cubes and the AI in identifying the right position for the ultrasound probe. Meanwhile, all the Crew members continued working to set up the other experiments, and especially the deployment of environmental sensors and “anchors” so our position in the station is known throughout the day. Several of them must be in each module, so it is very precise! We are also very proud to announce that the building of the atmospheric instruments is now completed! It was one of the big challenges of the first days of the mission. They will be deployed outside the station tomorrow during an EVA!

For lunch, Léa and Lise cooked for us! They tried to tame the Hab’s bread making machine by preparing the first bread of our mission! In the end, the bread is almost cubic, but very tasty! For the meal, they concocted a couscous with vegetables. It has a marvelous smell, very pleasant for the rest of us working in the Hab! Hard to believe that this food was dehydrated in a tin can a few hours before!

Following yesterday’s EVA, during which we gathered samples of Mars’ soil, we planted the seeds for the Seeds of Mars outreach experiment. There is one pot of Martian soil, and one of regular earthly soil, in which cress seeds will grow during the next four weeks. The objective of the experiment, entirely designed by high school students, is to compare how plants grow in different types of soil. We are very excited to see the results!

Tonight, the Martian winds are blowing… The sky is getting darker, and all Crew members are hoping for better weather tomorrow for the atmospheric instruments deployment EVA!

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