Weather: sunny and windy
Temperature: around 20°C
Location: 38.45 N 110.79W, 4255500 518500
Duration: 240 min
Team: Elke Mergny (crew geologist), Calogero Montedoro (crew biologist)
– Geophysical survey of the area with a ground penetrating radar
– Mapping of an area with the drone
– Ground penetrating radar: 3 geophysical profiles collected (area of the survey=500m²)
– Success of the mapping, even if there are some noise on the image
We started our Sol 3 with our Coach Nathalie putting on “Feeling Good – Muse” at 8AM, a good reason to wake up happily. After a common breakfast, I spent an hour to fix some software issues on two of the crew’s laptops, while our Crew Astronomer continued to deploy his equipment in the science lab: a scintillator and its control unit. In the meantime, our HSO, Nathalie, launched her physical evaluation exercises for her experiment with, again, a swinging music. At noon, our Master Chief (and Crew Astronomer) Quentin got a genius idea to prepare a lyophilized American cheese fondue, which remains quite fat but still good. Again, this meal was accompanied by our favorite bread, prepared with love by our well-known “full star” baker Math(ieu), the Crew Scientist. In the afternoon, Damien (Crew Engineer) and I continued to prepare tomorrow’s EVA by finishing some welding, program the frequencies of telecommunication devices and testing the repeaters and the sound beacons. Our HSO took charge of her regular sport group, a good way to stay dynamic for the rest of the day
Our third EVA was led by the Second in Command, Calogero, accompanied by our Crew Geologist, Elke Mergny. The sunny and very windy weather conditions allowed them to stay cool. Calogero continued to build his 3D map with a programmed drone by exploring a new area in the North, while Elke succeeded in collecting three different geophysical profiles with her ground penetrating radar, transported in the PEV.
Finally, the Crew Engineer tried to fix the faulty water heater but was stuck with an error code, an issue that will be adressed during the next CapCom. We all finished the afternoon by fulfilling our daily surveys for the “Using Analog Missions to Develop Effective Team Composition Strategies for Long Duration Space Exploration” NASA experiment.
Journalist report Sol 2 – 170412
Mathieu « Mitch » Vander Donckt
Crew Journalist and Scientist
Crew 178 – UCL to Mars
Second day on Mars. This time I wasn’t surprised at wake up – but of course still excited thinking about the day to come. I guess I got accustomed to my room. A bit cramped but we all knew that we would have to sacrifice comfort for effectiveness. Nevertheless, my personal effects on my shelf give a little warmth to the place and make it mine. The sleeping rooms of all the crew members open up on a half circular shared living room /kitchen /workroom. In a place with so much use, there is always someone. Today I found “Coach” and Elke, that we all call “Patch” now, cooking pancakes – what a delightful way to start a day on Mars! We quickly adapted to local food, composed mostly of dried meat, dried fruits, all sorts of unidentified powders, wheat flour and cereals. So, with water to rehydrate and a bit of imagination we can almost compete with the “Plat du Chef” from French restaurants, as our pineapple chicken from yesterday evening can testify.
Pancakes in the stomach, it was time to examine the package that got here yesterday by orbital convoy. It should have arrived days ago, before our arrival to prevent any delay in our tight schedule, but poor management at the Delivering Heavy Loads company deferred the shipment. The use of private companies in scientific space programs is now unavoidable, space being a place of high competition since the opening of the market a few years ago. It has its advantages, like the variety of solutions proposed for space travel and lower prices than when governmental space agencies had to take care of research and development all by themselves, but also bring its lot of difficulties. Due to the cheaper and faster trend, the reliability of those companies diminishes with time, and without news we were afraid that our package missed the connector in Mars orbit and got lost in the darkness of space – this happens more than you would know. After that it would have been a nightmare to get refunded and send another convoy – space law is complicated. But finally, we were glad to receive the last part of our equipment which was too heavy to bring in our shuttle.
With the approval of Mission Control and the arrival of the last pieces of equipment, Patch, the Crew Geologist, and myself could proceed to the first Extra Vehicular Activity. So we slipped our spacesuit on with the help of our crewmates, and felt a growing awareness of being in a very unique place at a very special time. Our first foot on Mars, prepared for years and dreamed for decades… The impatience rose even more when we got into the airlock.
Five minutes of depressurisation.
Our apparatus is ready: Patch, skillful geologist, is bringing a radar to survey the underground for a geophysical study, hoping to map the subterranean composition of Mars. As the airlock opens, we forget about everything else, like we’re in a dream. We walk to the area that we identified on our satellite map, accompanied by the encouragements of our team coming from our radio. However, the disillusion strikes hard! The spacesuits designed to protect us from the cold (-60°C outside) and solar radiations, weight hard, even in the weak gravitational field of Mars. All the systems conceived to protect us eventually seem to turn against us. We feel like in an oven, a box of lead, inescapable under sentence of death. A thought germs in my head. This is a settlement where humans are not welcome. This is a beautiful nature, full of hostility. This place is a trial of strength for our bodies and our minds.
Summary Title: Second EVA, preparations for other experiments and Internet fixing
Mission Status: Good
Sol Activity Summary:
“Today, we again woke up at 8 am after having enjoyed “The Martian” movie yesterday night with the whole team. In the morning, Nathalie invented the “Pancake dance” while she was cooking delicious pancakes for everyone, although her first 5 pancakes were closer to sharcoal than cake. Elke finished the setup of the last parameters for her second EVA using her ground penetrating radar. Calogero continued to configure his software applications for his geomatics EVA. At noon, we ate strange canned turkey meat and a Minestrone bear creek soup with our favorite bread, oven-cooked with love by our Crew Scientist, Mathieu. On the whole, this meal was still a pleasure. In the afternoon, the second EVA was launched under a very sunny weather reaching about 26 degrees Celsius. A fun fact about our Biohazard space suits is that they’re cloaked with an external plastic layer, allowing us to sweat like never inside. Extreme conditions are fulfilled. Quentin and Elke will try to reconstruct a Shepherd’s pie with lyophilized food for an amazing dinner tonight. After dinner, every crew member will have still hard work to finish preparing at best the next days.
Aurian d’Avernas, the Crew Commander”
Look Ahead Plan: The HughesNet technician came today to fix the parable with concrete. We identified that some laptops were automatically burning our daily Internet data with the automatic Windows updates which are very tricky to disable. We finally found the solution and tomorrow will be the first day without any Internet issue. The preparations of the crew experiments are going well. Moreover, we will send our biographies and crew photos tomorrow morning without exception.
Anomalies in work: The wheel of the ground penetrating radar does not work properly. It should be fixed by a phone call to the company of this material tomorrow morning by our Crew Geologist.
Weather: Clear sky and very sunny.
Crew Physical Status: Very good.
EVA: 1 km at the North of the Hab.
Reports to be file: EVA #2 report + Journalist report + Engineer report + Daily Summary Report
Journalist report Sol 0 and Sol 1 – 170411
Mathieu « Mitch » Vander Donckt
Crew Journalist and Scientist
“Let it be” echoes in my dreams, and my eyes open. I’m in a small dark room. The light ray radiating from under the door illuminate the simply furnished room – a bed and a shelf – in which I was sleeping. My numbness is quickly replaced by excitement: I’m on Mars! The music was the wake-up signal given by Aurian aka “Boss”, the Crew Commander. The rising thrill is fed by the memories of yesterday, when we landed and saw the station with our own eyes for the first time: a circular habitation module connected by tunnels to a greenhouse, a laboratory, and a telescope. Of course, we saw photographs and sketches back on Earth during our training, but no media can pass the global picture or the feeling of this outpost in the middle of nowhere – or let’s say at the boundary of human influence.
We’re not the first crew to have the extraordinary opportunity to settle in this station, built a decade ago, but still we see ourselves as pioneers, eager to explore and analyse this hostile new world. The previous crew should have welcomed us and guided us before going to the departure station, and then home, our Earth. Unfortunately, they did go away a week ago in great urgency, which is really unusual – actually this is a first – for an interplanetary mission, where everything is planned for years and costs billions. But everyone is happy to be here and don’t want to think about that.
The absence of a previous crew brought its own difficulties. Such a station needs a maintenance every day. This is the job of Damien or “Hoover”, the Crew Engineer, who is charged with the upkeep and reparation of all systems, one of the most important being our water supply. When we penetrated the station for the first time, the communication indicators flashed red, indicating a major problem. We had no link with Mission Control on Earth, which was indeed a problem. There is no colony on Mars, just a few scientific installations half-dependent of Earth like ours. Mission Control is of great support, can give us technical advice, supply us with food from orbital reserve if need be, and guide us from day to day. Without them we could run out of water or get caught in a deadly dust storm during Extra Vehicular Activity. The first task of Hoover was to repair the antenna linking us to a satellite, allowing us to communicate with Earth. An easy assignment for an experienced engineer, and a relief for all the crew.
Today all our systems are nominal – except hot water but it is not seen as an urgency – and we are ready to accomplish our mission here. That begins with the exercises of Nathalie, “Coach”, who keeps us in shape and studies our muscular loss here where the gravitational field is a third of Earth’s. An amusing exercise for some, a torment for others. Anyway, a good physical condition is important.
Now, everybody is unpacking or preparing the experiments. We can’t anticipate what will come next, but we are all eager to make discoveries in our respective domains.
Summary Title: Technical setups for several experiments and first EVA
Mission Status: Good
Sol Activity Summary:
We woke up today at 8 am. The Crew Astronomer and the Crew Commander broke the sim for two hours (10-12 am) in order to take the aerial delivery at Hollow Mountain (5 days of late) containing our scientific equipment. We shared meal at 1 pm (tomato soup with bread). The Crew Geologist and the Crew Scientist started their EVA at 2 pm and came back at 3.30 pm. In the meanwhile, the other crew members set up their experiment in the Hab and the Science Lab. The Crew Geologist prepared its plants launched the GreenHab activities. We had to do an emergency EVA (in spacesuits of course) to the Shannon’s trailer from 7 to 9 pm in order to start CapCom session. Indeed, some electronic devices probably consumed all the daily Internet data for this day, that is why we were constrained to exceptionally go to the Shannon’s trailer. At 6.30 pm, we started a group meeting to debrief the day and prepare the day of tomorrow, and also to disable all the electronic devices of each crew member to avoid any further problem with the daily Internet datas. After the evening meal, some of the crew members enjoyed a movie, while others continued to work.Look Ahead Plan: (How are you going to follow up? What’s the plan for tomorrow?)
Anomalies in work: Internet data were consumed par mégarde
Weather: The beginning of the day started to be dégagé and clear. In the afternoon, some clouds added and the wind became more violent ???
Crew Physical Status: Everyone is fine
EVA: (where did you go?)
Reports to be file: Crew Engineer Report, Journalist Report,
Support Requested: The tunnel structure between the Hab and the Science Lab has suffered from heavy gusts of wind, it will be difficult
Weather: sunny, come clouds, wind
Temperature: around 25°C
Location: 12S0519254 UTM 4250772, elevation: 1365 m
Duration: 90 min
Team: Elke Mergny (crew geologist), Mathieu Vander Donckt (crew scientist)
– Geophysical survey of the area with a ground penetrating radar.
– Collections of ground samples for an analysis with a diffractometer
– Ground penetrating radar: The survey wheel was calibrated and two profiles were collected.
– Collections of ground samples: Three samples collected around the base.