Journalist Report – April 17th

Journalist report Sol 7 – 170417

Mathieu « Mitch » Vander Donckt

Crew Journalist and Scientist

Crew 178 – UCL to Mars


A new day arises on Mars. The moral of the team is high, everybody being busy with their experiment or discovering new places and landscapes during Extra Vehicular Activity. We landed a week ago, and in a way a routine set in. Same schedule for the meals, at midday we mostly eat the bread that I bake – bread or brick, it depends on the courtesy of my crewmates – and in the evening with all our powder and dehydrated food we can let our creativity loose. Sometimes you even need more imagination to figure out what is in your plate, but it usually is tasty. We make one expedition every day, in general with a different team, location, or objective. We need to be coordinated: the team going outside the hab cannot split up for security reasons and our time is limited, so every second on the field matters. Living together, we get to know each other better. Boss is undoubtedly good at making unfunny jokes, Quentin aka “Dips”, our crew astronomer, is incline to fall asleep when we don’t give him an electrical shock, and we are all impressed by how good Tarzan is at crashing is drone.

But of course, every day has its part of discoveries and advances – this is why we are here. Now I’m working in the Science Dome with Tarzan on hydroponic culture of rice. We were respectively chemist and biologist before being astronaut, and our different ways of thinking about the same experiment is a good illustration of how the diversity of background is beneficial when composing an astronaut crew. The goal of this experiment is to assess the impact of urea on our plantations, and evaluate the impact of using our waste water to grow our food. One more step towards the food autonomy of Mars!

Interestingly, we watched “The Martian” a few days ago on our humble homemade cinema room and found some similarities between the movie and us. Let’s hope that we will not forget one of our crew members when we go home next week…