March 3rd, 2020
Sol 2 – Crew 223 : Quick thinking
“I’m getting no air from the suit”
“Marion, you’re taking command of this EVA”
“If this weren’t Earth I’d be dead right now”
“We need to head back to the Hab immediately”
It’s essential to have a plan – and we do. What’s even more important is to know how to react when things start to go off the rails. Yesterday’s EVA started off like the previous one: Aurélien, the veteran, leading Florian, Marion, and Valentin, three rookies on their first time out. And, much like yesterday, one of the suits began having issues with its ventilation systems. Aurélien was the one affected, but unfortunately this time the problem could be solved neither quickly nor easily by the remaining crew. A routine battery replacement had suddenly turned into an emergency situation, as the EVA leader’s helmet began fogging up from the lack of extra air.
Outside, three Marstronauts with only minutes of EVA experience, needing to take over from their only experienced companion. Inside, the HabCom and the other two of us, listening in helplessly to the radio, waiting for them to make their way back. After the cloud of confusion lifted from the EVA team and they got control back over the situation, all seven of us focused on how to make sure the EVA could carry on with minimal losses. Time was indeed of the essence: there’s only so much that can be spent outside. As two EVA members rushed in the airlock for pressurisation, all hands were on deck to give Aurélien another suit and help Valentin from losing his Comms headset. As quickly as they came in, they were back out through the airlock, and the EVA carried on nominally, only with little less time to be spent on exploration.
After a debriefing session to go over the morning’s events, time was needed for a bit of well-deserved relaxation. Following a hearty lunch of vegetable curry and improvised cake (powdered butter makes me sad), we moved on to our respective experiments. Valentin was back to his ever-relaxing GreenHab, and Florian was busy at the observatory, taking advantage of the good weather for solar observations. Later on in the afternoon, Blandine introduced us to a positive psychology experiment: amongst a myriad of cards showing character strengths, we had to chose two and explain to the others why we felt it described us well. It was a great time for introspection, and for learning about our crewmates. Team cohesion is paramount in missions like this one, and being reminded that we all have great things to bring to the others is fantastic for the rest of the mission.
Author: Clément Plagne, Crew Journalist