Journalist Report – March 9th

SOL 20: Back to the Canyon

“I’ve crossed these sands many times,” said one of the camel drivers one night. “But the desert is so huge, and the horizons so distant, that they make a person feel small, and as if he should remain silent.” – The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho

This morning, Crew 293’s last EVA to Candor Chasma took place! Léa and I had to find 12 checkpoints scattered all along the canyon. We prepared the expedition yesterday thanks to a 2D map and a topographic map. Mathurin was with us during the EVA: his goal was to count our steps, to take notes about our timing and performance. As we were getting closer to the site with the rovers, Mathurin had to stop his rover sooner than Léa and I, because his battery had drained faster than ours, and he would not have been able to come back to the station if he had continued. Léa and I continued driving Opportunity, to get as close as possible to Candor Chasma, and to limit our walking time to the canyon. Of course, we kept Mathurin in our line of sight at all times. Even though we found almost all of the checkpoints in less than an hour and a half, the 3D team was more efficient yesterday… But we are very proud to have managed to get this far, and we performed better than last week at North Ridge! Plus, going to Candor Chasma means enjoying its exceptional geology. Upon arriving at the end of the delimited search area, we were amazed to notice how far the canyon extended. The large rock tours surrounding us made us feel tiny compared to the Martian terrain’s wideness!

Back from the EVA, we were very tired. A 4-hour hike under the Martian Sun, while climbing on rock walls, is exhausting! We were lucky to just have to sit at the table to eat a plateful of good mashed potatoes from MELiSSA that was waiting for us! During lunch, we recounted our EVA to the rest of the Crew, and Crew members who stayed at the station brought us up to speed as well. Yves, who was our HabCom, cooked a brownie for dessert, Leo took care of the GreenHab, and Marie and Lise confronted both the software and hardware problems of the EchoFinder experiment. Everyone was productive during the absence of the EVA Crew!

During the afternoon, after some Crew members rested for a while, everyone followed its planned activities. Léa made impressive solar observations for her astronomy project. Yves and Marie tried once again to make EchoFinder’s equipment work for another session, which wasn’t very successful…

For the past few days, Lise and Leo have been preparing in secret an activity for tomorrow, that they finished today. We can’t wait to see what it is, and to enjoy tomorrow to rest. We need to be in good shape for our last week on Mars!

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