This day surely was a particular day, both confusing and exciting.
First, let me introduce myself briefly – don’t worry, my crewmates will be introduced properly later on. I’m Pierre, Crew 240’s Journalist, and for three weeks I will keep you updated on our mission on Mars.
Yes, you read that well, for three weeks we will perform a Martian mission. But let’s start by the beginning of that incredible day.
This morning we woke up in the Mars Desert Research Station, in the middle of nowhere, in an environment that looks like Mars, but in reality, is still on Earth. We will only be on Mars in the afternoon after our training is complete and the airlocks are locked.
First, it is 6:45 in the morning and we need to meet our Health and Safety Officer Julie at the lower deck to do our first workout as a crew – those morning workouts will be our routine during those three weeks. This first bit of exercise was hard for some members of the crew but it was fun and good for team building.
After our breakfast, Atila, the Assistant Director, came to visit us in order to finish up our training which started yesterday. We talked about the philosophy of the simulation, the history of MDRS, and how everything in the station works.
We tried on our spacesuit and went for a walk around the station to test them. It surely was exciting to walk in a place that looks so much like Mars, in a spacesuit, communicating only by radio with the noise of the air conditioning system in the helmet. But in reality, it is just a taste of what would be our first real EVA on Sol 1, on Mars. We can’t wait to do it!
Atila showed us how to properly drive the rovers at MDRS. Fun fact: they’re named after real rovers that went to Mars: Perseverance, Opportunity, Spirit, Curiosity... How cool is that?
We went to Galileo Road in the cold of the Utah Desert. Driving a rover is not complicated, but with a spacesuit it will surely be a challenge, which we will discover tomorrow!
Our trainer Atila then left us and we had our last lunch on Earth, which was actually confusing since we already started to eat Martian food – more about Martian food in another report. After this lunch we went out of the station through the front airlock and we took the classic picture every crew takes before beginning the sim. This was the last time we were outside of the station without a spacesuit, the last time feeling the fresh air on our skin and in our lungs. With a lot of emotion we stepped into the front airlock and closed the door. The sim had begun.
This moment was all the more emotional that our botanist, and friend, Raphaël Dehont, spent two years of hard work preparing this mission with us, but couldn’t make it to the USA due to visa issues. This was a heart-breaking event and we miss him a lot on this Sol 0. In order to have him somehow with us during those three weeks, we took a small plushie as a mascot for him.
Now that the sim had begun, we all started to work on the tasks defined by our roles and on our experiments. Some stayed at the Hab and others started to fill the other buildings of the station: Science Dome, GreenHab, RAM (the names are cool, but not even as much as the rooms themselves).
Everyone starts to feel more and more at home in the station. At the time of writing this, we are all writing our reports for Mission Support. We’ll then have dinner, the first on Mars, and we’ll be off to bed. This can be seen as a very earthly routine, except we are on Mars, and tomorrow we will perform our first EVA and step for the first time on Martian soil.