Sol 9 – Aluminum foil and zip ties are an astronaut’s best friends
“The rain fell. The great black lid of sky cracked in six powdery blue chips, like a marvelous crackled glaze, and rushed down. He saw ten billion rain crystals, hesitating long enough to be photographed by the electrical display. Then darkness and water.”
Chapter 9 of The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
If not a green morning, let us have a red one! The colors of the sky over the Martian hills were especially beautiful when we awoke and started our day. Our upper body muscles being sore from Sol 7, Corentin had prepared a leg workout for us to do in the Lower Deck. The objective of this morning’s EVA was to perform more tests and retrieve the MegaAres antenna, as well as placing the last atmospheric physics experiment, the LOAC (Light Optical Aerosol Counter). Everything went very smoothly: the situation with MegaAres wasn’t as bad as we initially thought, and Alexandre has already found a solution to fix the conductivity problem using aluminum foil. After deploying the aerosol counter, we had some time left to briefly explore the area and take some pictures. I feel like I am gradually getting used to moving around in my spacesuit and using tools during EVAs; we know which movements can be impeded, what communications problems can arise and how to solve these problems effectively.
After we returned, we noticed a change in the Hab. Something was off, the Hab was unusually noisy. We quickly realized it was the wind blowing and whistling around the Hab, carrying with it heavy cloud coverage. Alexandre started constantly checking the weather station, afraid the humidity levels would rise, effectively damaging the newly installed LOAC. Today’s quote, taken from the chapter titled “The Green Morning”, in which the protagonist witnesses heavy rainfall followed by the overnight sprouting of a thousand trees, is Alexandre’s greatest nightmare…
Today, we also started taking the cognitive assessment tests as part of the KTHitecture experiment. All crew members are given a series of psychometric tasks designed to see how our concentration, cognition and performance evolve during the mission and are affected by the different environments of the station: this is why you might see us taking the test in places such as the Science Dome, the Hab, and even the GreenHab.
Alice and Quentin also prepared Corentin and I for tomorrow’s photogrammetry experiment: we were given a 2D map of North Ridge and a scenario to contextualize the exploration EVA, both of which we had one hour to study.
As the evening progressed, the wind started blowing harder and harder, to a point where we had to secure the corridor tarps and both airlocks to make sure they didn’t get blown away. Mars has hit Crew 275 with everything it had: snowfall, a penetrating cold that nearly got the best of our heating and alarm systems, and high-speed winds. Everything, except for rain… at least for now.