With Luís’ alarm going off around 0630, I was not ready to begin my simulated Mars mission. I persuaded our Biologist to take a shower first so that I could grab an extra ten to fifteen minutes of sleep. Once I shook the last vestiges of sleep from my body, I showered, got dressed, and followed Luís down to the complementary continental breakfast. I ate hard-boiled eggs, english muffins with peanut butter, strawberry yogurt, an apple, a few glasses of milk, and a cup of coffee. A breakfast of champi… I mean, Marsonauts. The entire crew eventually got together, ate a hearty meal, and prepared to leave for the Hab.
The drive from Grand Junction wasn’t that bad, especially when you rode shotgun in the “pressurized transfer rover” with a nice camera in your hands (thanks Nichole!). I got some great pictures of the terrain, had some enlightening conversations with the rest of the crew, and couldn’t even begin to purge the smile from my face. I was actually on my way to MDRS! I knew that, for the past ninety-plus days, that would be my final destination, but it really sunk in once we were in the car actually on our way.
There was a little set back at the grocery store in Hanksville, but thankfully everything was sorted out and we resumed our drive. Once we left the main road, it really felt like we were on Mars. Almost like two sides of a coin. The car was basically silent as we traversed the rough terrain, taking pictures and filming videos all the while keeping an eye out for the Hab.
Crew 88 had been waiting for about an hour for us (we arrived at just past 1300), and they were glad to see us. The MDRS shower had stopped working (which Darrel, our engineer, has devised a plan to fix), so our arrival heralded the countdown clock to their own hot showers. We went through the complete check out procedure, consisting of tours of the Hab systems and facilities. Paul McCall, 88’s Astronomer/Engineer, guided me through the systems as well as described what still needed to be done for the radio telescope. The crew also wrote a collection of quick reference guides, which have already helped us get acquainted to the Hab.
We did have a few small disturbances with a missing coat and a police encounter, but since I was at the Hab cataloguing our attic food stores, I won’t comment on that… I will say that I’ve seen more packets of shelf-stable bread than I thought I ever would, especially since I determined what exactly shelf-stable bread earlier in the day. We scrapped our introductory “EVA,” centered on ATV maintenance and control, due to the absence of Brian, our commander, and Darrel. We did, however, have a warm Alpineaire meal while waiting, which surprising wasn’t that bad…
As we aren’t in sim yet, I was able to take my binoculars out at night to take a gander. I had to fix the alignment again (from transit), but I could still see some pretty cool things with the naked eye. Once Luís and I returned to the Hab, we filled out our various reports and forms. Based on previous views of the Hab webcam, this is a normal occurrence for crews late at night, so no problem here.
It’s strange to think that while I’m at MDRS, “Mars” will magically materialize tomorrow afternoon after our introductory EVAs. From then on, I’ll be on another planet.