Sol 19 - Last moments on Mars
Today was our last sol. It is strange how fast it arrived. We were kept busy inside the station, so that we didn’t see time pass by. I was leading the last EVA, bringing Arthur, Louis, Xavier and Simon to the map’s edge. We had planned to explore Lith canyon, for the first time since our arrival. Before leaving, we set our new record doing the engineering check: 5 minutes. It clearly seems that Xavier’s procedures are doing their job.
The place we discovered today was unreal: A canyon just opening up in the middle of the desert, leading to another canyon, deeper in the ground, leading to a third one. You were able to see red stripes on every wall, being alone in this very intimate landscape. We had planned to reach another location after this one, but decided to stay here till the end, instead of leaving too quickly. It was also an occasion for us to shoot new pictures holding flags, for those who didn’t take part to my first EVA lead. As the photographer, I was overjoyed, taking beautiful pictures to end the simulation properly.
This afternoon, we were another time busy finishing our various tasks. We decided to end the simulation at 4:30 pm, to be able to take a breath and have a walk to see the sunset. The impression we had leaving the hab was very strange: this was the first time we were breathing fresh air without any step between our lungs and the atmosphere. We also were seeing everything differently: the landscape surrounding the station is changing and absolutely stunning, and being able to see it without a helmet let us change of perspective. Taking a walk, we realised something very unusual for Europeans like us, that never experienced travelling to desert places: at a time, I asked everybody to stop and to listen. The silence was absolutely perfect. Fascinating while disturbing. Especially because we spent the last three weeks living in the station where the thermic generator is running most of the time, where heating is blowing air strongly, where the pump make the whole floor vibrate every time somebody uses water, and in which we lived at seven, always making noise somewhere. Even during the EVAs, having a backpack and a helmet prevents you from hearing it.
Sunset over Skyline Rim
So, it seems to be it. Mission is complete. We have already a few things to end up, must clean up the station, and have already between 2 and 3 days left in the USA, but we will leave the MDRS tomorrow morning. It has been a pleasure dear station, I hope that you will be fine. We will surely remember you as the one who taught us so much about space and ourselves without leaving the ground.
Louis MANGIN, crew journalist MDRS 175