Journalist report Sol 10 – 170420
Mathieu « Mitch » Vander Donckt
Crew Journalist and Scientist
Crew 178 – UCL to Mars
Today comes with great news! Especially for me because it is directly liked to my researches, but also for those who want to know more about the geology of Mars. When humans first explored Mars, decades before sending astronauts, using probes, flybys, and rovers, their main goal was to find liquid water or prove that liquid water flowed on the planet in the past. That is the first step in the search for life, because life as we know it cannot appear nor thrive without the presence of this liquid so common on Earth but hard to find here. One of those rovers is of particular interest to me: Curiosity. Sent in 2011 to Gale Crater – not so far from here –, and staying operational during several years instead of one, it achieved by far more than what was expected. Its mission: study the habitability of Mars. One of its tools: an X-Ray diffractometer, able to analyse the structure of minerals at nanoscale level. A powerful device that validated the theory of presence of water in past Mars.
This morning I was flushed with excitement after the landing of the new package sent by Orbital Convoy. A Bruker diffractometer, small sized but powerful, will help us make new discoveries. Unlike Curiosity, we can cover great distances and make several analyses a day. Last week we explored our environment, taking samples of rock, soil or dust. Now with this instrument we will be able to assess the habitability of Mars with more efficiency than a rover, answer questions about the formation of this planet, and look for vital resources with a view to colonize the planet.
With our journey coming to an end, every member of the crew is aware that we need to terminate our fieldwork. Boss improved our communications outside the Hab, which will probably serve to next crews. Hoover marked the dangerous places around the station to improve our security, only Tarzan didn’t get the concept and tried to fall off a cliff, without major damage. After many tests, Dips is finally ready to detect muons, a cosmic radiation. From what I heard, Tarzan proved that we will need a good processing of our waste water in order to grow our food –it’s no good to pee in a bowl of rice. Patch finished her measurements and found contrasting geological layers in the underground that will help us understand how much ancient Mars was different. And finally, Coach still enjoys making us sweat.
Being on our found reserve, we came back to a what I call a student diet: pasta and (homemade) pizza – not so bad, Tarzan is Italian.
In a couple of days, we will welcome the next crew and share our experience with them. Bad and good habits, the maintenance of the station and all they need to know to survive in the Martian wilderness.