Final Preparations

With only one week remaining before I fly out to Grand Junction, CO, before the start of my MDRS mission, I will obviously be extremely busying readying everything before I actually leave. I’ve already turned in my rent check, purchased my last few odds and ends that I need, and talked with all of my professors about my absence. Thankfully, all but my HPS professor are on board, and even he may come around when I talk with him next week. Basically, aside from actually packing everything up and shutting down my life for two weeks, I’m basically all set to leave.

There were a few hiccups this past week, unfortunately. The mounting pier for the optical telescope at the Musk Observatory had to be shipped out for repairs, preventing its use for the remainder of the 09-10 MDRS season. As such, my initial research project had to be scrapped. I will now be using the radio telescope to make observations of the radio signatures of both Jupiter and Saturn. I had also planned on seeing how much interference using the radios while on EVA had with the observations, but upon further investigation that was deemed impossible due to the overshadowing interference from the Sun’s own radio signature. There are just a few more small things I need to do to completely finalize my plans before heading out to Mars, but they shouldn’t be too strenuous.

I’ve started classes, which means that work for the semester begins! My first week of classes went well, with great professors and interesting subjects almost the norm. In a few of my courses, the entire class and homework schedule was already determined, so I’ll be trying to finish three weeks of homework for those during this weekend. As for the others, those books will be flying with me to Utah, but my lay-over in Dallas and the long flights will help solve those homework problems. I will still have a lot of work waiting for me once I get back, with three labs (since I will be missing two) and an exam arriving shortly after touchdown. Thankfully, once I’m back for two weeks, I’ll be past most of my exams and other post-MDRS stress work, so things will regain a semblance of normalcy.

I had my first State News interview this past Thursday. I say “first” only because of a few simple facts. I had thought that I would only be doing one interview for the paper initially, sort of a “look what one of our students will be doing!” piece coupled with pointers to where the mission can be followed. Near the end of the interview, however, I was greeted with some great news. The reporter and editor wanted a second interview after I got back to give my reaction to the mission, sort of like a debriefing for the paper. They also plan on running a multi-media counterpart on the website, which I discussed with the reporter as well, but I won’t disclose those details yet… Needless to say, I am thrilled that they responded so positively to the story, and am glad that the reporter seemed genuinely interested in both the mission and the human visitation/colonization of Mars. Should be a good story, and it will be in papers sometime in February after the mission ends.

I also just got my computer back today. I had to send it in for repairs, as the CD/DVD-Combo optical drive was not working properly, and was a little worried that I would be without a computer for the entirety of the holiday weekend, needless to say that I did fear that I might not have it before stepping on the plane (even if it was an irrational fear…). Thankfully, it is sitting on my desk and displaying these words back to me as I type on the new keyboard (and coupled with the new trackpad and topcase) that they installed at the same time. I also got some other great news today, but that’s a little more personal, so I’ll just say that this weekend should be good.

I do have one outstanding task I need to complete before I go: internship applications. While I only have three to complete, the deadline for the first (NASA) is a week from today, with the others during the weeks following. At this point, the only part holding me back from hitting ‘Submit’ are the reference letters. I’m still waiting to hear back from one professor, but the other has already begun writing (I think…). Technically, I could send in the NASA app now, since the reference letter is separate (and only one is needed), but I’m delaying through the weekend to see if the other professor would also be ready to send the letter in as well. For all three internships, thankfully, the letters can be submitted electronically, so I don’t need to stress about the US Postal Service.

This will probably be my last update until the mission starts, since the following seven days will be pretty hectic for me, but be prepared for some great posts from the surface of Mars!

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