Journalist Report 24 May 2017
Prepared by Janet Biggs, Crew Co-Journalist
After incredible patience, encouragement, and guidance from star man extraordinaire, Peter (my Astronomy Ground Support), we had successful viewing and imaging in the Musk Observatory last night! Charlie and I opened the dome around 22:40 (10:40 pm) and were able to finally complete a two-star alignment. It took both of us, one on the telescope and the other using a laser pointer, to identify three calibration stars for the alignment. Once we were aligned, we slewed the telescope to Jupiter and saw three of Jupiter’s moons! We were so encouraged that we bravely attached my camera to the telescope to try and get some shots. We viewed and photographed M81, and Saturn too. Apparently, we were pretty loud in our excitement as Cassie and Juan showed up. We all took turns viewing and trying different exposures. Getting a good focus on the camera is challenging, but we’ve got a few more nights to master it. We closed up the observatory around 1:30 am, trying not to think about the few short hours to our 7 am EVA time.
I got up at 6:40 and groggily struggled into my spacesuit. Juan and I grabbed our supplies and entered the airlock. I think we both took a one minute naps during the pressurization.
I had a couple shots around the solar panels that I wanted to get and Juan was a willing astronaut/model. Then it was my turn to be model, focus dummy, and camera person for Juan. Dr Shannon had radioed us that a journalist who had not been cleared for landing had made the trip anyway and would we mind if he took photos of us from a distance. We said sure, but I think the journalist got quite a surprise as Juans’s projects included things like holding an umbrella and spraying bug spray on his spacesuit. He was visually exploring things that would be futile or fail on Mars. I can only imagine what the journalist thought. As if wandering around in an orange spacesuit wasn’t strange enough.
Lunch was mac and cheese again. Sometimes, on Mars, you just need some comfort food … and since we are out of Red Lobster biscuits, mac and cheese did the job. Our conversation at lunch was about power structures, power sources, voltage, and eventually digressed into blowing stuff up.
After lunch, the realization that our mission is soon coming to an end hit us. The need to schedule the next couple of EVAs had an urgency that bordered on frantic. It would be tough to get back here to Mars if we missed a shot. But soon we relaxed back into life here on Mars, in our Hab, talking zero Gs and camera equipment.
Cassie is taking pictures of all us, and today she shot Juan in his stateroom. We are all really respectful of each other’s rooms as it’s the only real privacy we’ve got. As Cassie was setting up, we got a peek into his room. He’s been holding out! It’s so full of cool stuff. Iridescent paper, airplane marshalling wands, countless lasers … and Cheetos! Totally holding out!
Hey, in case you were wondering, our Hab is smelling fresh as daisy. Thanks to the heroic effort of Charlie, who braved the lower depths (remember that scene in the Martian when he was growing potatoes) and Juan, who assisted Charlie in rigging the fan in the ceiling vent above, we are sitting pretty. Echoing the words of Juan, “We are naming a Martian mountain after Charlie”.
The plan for tonight is an EVA at 18:00 (just Cassie and myself … the women of Mars), followed by a photo shoot at the observatory, followed by a special dinner made by Juan, followed by filing our reports, followed by a movie night (and if the sky clears up, followed by more telescope viewing). Think we’re gonna need a longer night … maybe we should have gone to Mercury.