February 18th, 2020
Sol 2 – Crew 222: Head in the stars !
Today in EVA, we were tasked with setting up the experiment MegaARES, a giant aluminium sphere that measures the magnetic field of the planet. When we practiced putting it up before leaving, it did not take too long, but here it took us two whole hours! It’s hard to imagine how difficult it is moving in a spacesuit. Every small task becomes difficult. Just getting in the rover seat was tough, and trying to get back up after sitting down was even harder. This is in part due to the large backpack we have to carry around, since it is quite heavy and impairs our movements, and since this was our first EVA we kept bumping into each other lightly. Thankfully we quickly got the hang of it, and the suit no longer bothered us.
Upon our return, we could smell the delicious smell of a savory cake waiting for us. Martian food, when cooked to perfection, can rival with Earth cuisine! Especially when seasoned with GreenHab-grown greens that our GreenHab officer harvested yesterday.
Here, far from civilization, far from any man-made light, the night sky is beautiful. Today, Eishi showed us the pictures of a galaxy that he took last night. As the Astronomer, he has access to three telescopes here in the MDRS.
The first one is for finding objects in the night sky, such as galaxies and stars. It is fully automated and it can follow the objects that the Astronomer wishes to study during the night. It then activates the second telescope that takes astrophotography, and in the morning, the Astronomer has access to all the images taken by the telescope.
The third one is a manual solar telescope that is used to follow the Sun’s activity during the day. With it, we can see clearly the dark spots and solar eruptions. This will be crucial on Mars, because without a magnetic field all the radiation from the Sun directly hits the surface of the planet, and this can be fatal to Marsonauts who will live there. The Sun isn’t a still ball of plasma, it has phases where its activity increases or decreases, and following these cycles is important to ensure we can predict future activity and prevent any danger. Solar flares can be dangerous for the Earth too, as it interferes with electronic instruments! Even if it is millions of kilometers away, it has the power to make and destroy.
Author: Marie Bochard, Crew Journalist