Journalist Report 15 May 2017
Prepared by Juan Jose Garcia
Images courtesy of Juan and Avishek
We have officially run out of Red lobster biscuits. Capcom will parachute us more in the coming days.
Today marks a change in the mission of crew 181. Shannon came by to give a planet-sized pep talk. She has returned from getting her PhD. She has also recently discovered yet another dinosaur fossil. Possibly the Utah velociraptor.
Shannon delighted us with her anecdotes and history on MDRS. How to identify a rattlesnake by its diamond shaped head. Informed us that there are plenty more snakes by the dinosaur pit. Apparently this area is littered with dinosaur remains. She told us about the future plans of the HAB, including converting a helicopter body into a parking area for the all terrain vehicles. When using the ATV’s, that we should not do like previous crews who park too close to each other on missions, “you’ve got the whole damn planet” to park.
Last night we saw the film Alien. It was interesting to see how our experiences here at the base resemble the Communications between the captain and the crew, the airlock system, how the characters in the film shared their futuristic-looking meals together, the similarities of their suits to ours and the dynamics of their Extra Vehicular Activities.
It’s interesting to see how the characters rely on the computer for questions, like us. One of the characters asks the Siri-like computer, “what are my chances of surviving?” (the alien of course) and the computer replied, does not compute.
As a group we definitely have more clarity on the opportunities here and have more freedom to structure our mission in pursuit of our goals.
Then came our EVA.
It was absolutely exceptional. Charlie, Cassie, Juan and Avishek took the ATV’s an hour long drive passing through every variety of terrain. Hills of dirt, plains of rock, curving roads between jagged boulders. Video games aspire to do what we experienced today. Too many scenic moments to stop and take a photo.
At one point, the horizon went forever both left and right only to be interrupted by an astronaut on a rover and a snowy peaked mountain dominating the distance.
We looked like we were on horsebacks with headlights in between red hills. I wish someone recorded my reaction, just pure laughter and delight on the rover. Pictures cannot do the experience justice. In this desert terrain, our reliance on each other as a team becomes even more apparent. The red dirt, the dramatic jagged rock formations the more one felt to be absolutely roving on Mars. The bone chilling wind numbed our fingers.
Riding back to the HAB was much faster because we all had more experience on the rovers. The white dome peaked through the terrain eventually. Olly’s voice upon our arrival made the communications with the HAB upon our approach seem very official. Like the control tower at an airport. Our expedition concluded with a very healthy dinner prepared by Olly and Janet.