Sol 22 – “The last week’s a smooth ride”, they said!
“The Martian mountains lay all around, millions of years old. Starlight glittered on the spires of a little Martian town, no bigger than a game of chess, in the blue hills.”
Chapter 22 of The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
I woke up this morning as my crewmates silently and sleepily stepped out of their rooms to take their daily tests and measurements, as I lay on a reclined mattress under the main Hab window. It feels strange not being able to have the same habits as the rest of my crew; as Corentin led them all through the daily workout session, I took advantage of my not being able to participate by taking my role of crew photographer close at heart.
There was no time to waste after breakfast; after being delayed twice, the third and last EVA at Candor Chasma dedicated to the photogrammetry experiment would finally take place this morning! Corentin having replaced me as the third member of the EVA crew, I was assigned the role of HabCom to monitor the EVA from the Hab. It was a quiet morning: after handling the data retrieved from the atmospheric instruments, which the researchers from CNRS are very pleased with, Alexandre played chess with Quentin to the sweet churning sound of the bread-making machine. Meanwhile, Jérémy tested all of AI4U’s functionalities. The objective is to have all crewmembers interact with the AI in order to give detailed feedback to SPooN and CNES, who have created the prototype.
After 4 hours of exploration, the three astronauts came back to the hab tired. They finally collected all the necessary data for the photogrammetry experiment. We enjoyed a long lunch and some off-worldly conversations. It's amazing to see how close we have become over the past few weeks, despite our differences: every single crewmember is doing their best for this last week to go as smoothly as possible.
In the afternoon, we struggled to keep to a tight schedule. Crewmembers are taking turns using AI4U, and getting their cognitive tests and physiological examinations done. Alice has started comparing the performances of the photogrammetry teams, who are feeling quite competitive…
Tomorrow morning, I’ll be traveling back to Earth with Alice and Corentin, and possibly getting surgery. Jérémy will be writing the reports for the next few Sols, and I can only hope to be back before the mission ends.
In any case, this evening, although bittersweet, will most certainly reflect the team's spirit during the entire mission: quick with a joke, never sparing with kind words.