Sol 6 – Fallen

When I woke up this morning, I did not feel well. I woke up in the middle of the night in a semi-hot sweat, and I couldn’t fall back asleep. I think the lack of a real pillow (my stand-in has lost its towel, so now its just a sweatshirt and t-shirt) is starting to get to me. I’m going to try wrapping my laundry bag up in the sweatshirt to see if that helps out more, which it should since there is quite a bit of clothes in there… This morning was the coldest yet, with our breakfast temperature around 20 degrees F, and everything was covered in a layer of ice when we went outside for engineering rounds.

But the morning went well. I spent much of it figuring out the radio telescope receiver, so I will be able to start observing tonight. My plan is to start the converter (after unplugging the external speaker), and watch for a little bit before setting the computer up for the night and letting it run. I also looked up some audio analysis programs, which I’ll be downloading after midnight tonight, to see if I can get anything out of a full night of running the radio telescope. Hopefully something happens, but if not I can switch over to daytime solar observing.

I ate a delicious breakfast and lunch, followed by a planning session for a rescue EVA. Earlier in the day, Brian and Carla had built an emergency sled, and we wanted to plan a field usage of the sled for a med-evac. I was chosen to go out with Darrel as part of the first EVA team, while Brian, Carla, and Kiri would be the rescue team, and Luís would be HabCom for both teams. While I did want to drive Viking I, which was our designated rescue rover, getting to just simply walk around outside, especially away from the Hab, was nice too. That was my first long pedestrian EVA since Sol 1, and my second long EVA that was not an introductory EVA to learn the suit-up and suit-down processes and get acquainted with the suits (the last one was on Sol 3). Darrel and I walked a little over a half mile to Shannon’s Ridge, a landform just south of Lowell Highway and Olympus Mons.

Once we got there, I made the call in to HabCom that Darrel had broken his leg and was unconscious. I figured that, should our emergency EVA be able to handle this relatively serious situation, than milder ones could also be handed. We sat on top of one of the peaks while playing in the snow and waiting for our med-evac. The rescue team suited up in record time, with Brian driving Viking I and Carla and Kiri walking besides it. They had to attach the sled to the rover before leaving the Hab vicinity, then they were on their way. They simply followed our tracks out (a benefit of the lingering snow cover), although it may have been easier to travel along the roads to our location, but that’s a lesson for a future disaster scenario.

When we got a visual on the rescue team, Darrel and I walked down the slope to a relatively flat, yet rock strewn, area near the base of the ridge, at which point Darrel laid down in a pile of rocks in a suitable fashion for his injuries. The rescue team, unfortunately, couldn’t drive to rover all the way to our position, so we carried Darrel over to the sled and tied him down as best as we could. Brian drove back to the main highway, with myself, Kiri, and Carla walking and jogging alongside the rover and sled. It was nice to somewhat run, especially since I need to get in some training runs before the Commander Durocher’s Challenge, which Brian and myself will be completing near the end of our rotation. I’m pretty excited for that, especially since it will be another EVA under my belt and a way to get some more exercise (especially the kind outside of the Hab). Plus, how many people can say that they’ve run a 5k on Mars?

We got back to the Hab, carried Darrel into the main airlock, and got back inside. Since our simulated emergency at this point was over, Darrel stood up and we all helped each other de-suit. In the EVA Ready Room, we found out that there were a ton of technical difficulties that also plagued our EVA. Darrel’s PLSS battery seemed to give out at some point while on the surface, my radio died, and various headsets and radios seemed to give out at different points of the excursion. Thankfully, they didn’t affect us too much, as we just shouted loudly and used hand signals when the radios failed, and Darrel seemed to cope with the lack of fresh air for as long as he had to. My total time on the surface was a little over two hours, making it my longest EVA to date. I’m hoping that the snow clears up soon, since then I will be able to go out on longer EVAs especially with the ATVs.

After everyone was back in the Hab, I wrote the EVA report for Darrel and I, followed by Luís teaching us capoeira in the upper deck. We cleared out the table and chairs, brought in mats, and learned. It was pretty intense, especially the “cool down” that was in some ways more grueling than the actual workout. I was just thinking about dinner the entire time, especially since I had just came in from a long EVA and get hungry quickly. We sat down for dinner right around 2000, when our mission support window opens, making this probably our latest dinner in the Hab. My stomach really adjusted to the schedule, and by the time food was in front of me, I didn’t even talk in favor of shoving food in my mouth.

The rest of the crew just cracked jokes, especially when I would say, “takes too much time,” with a mouthful of food when they discussed adding spices. Waiting an extra hour to eat was pretty tough, but thankfully a lot of food eventually found its way into my stomach. And boy did I eat a lot. Thankfully, since no one really likes the shelf-stable bread aside from me, I got basically two pieces during dinner and I have a third for a late night snack. That is great, especially since I’ll be pulling another late night with radio astronomy and homework.

But not before game night. The crew played three games of Guesstures, a scharades-type team game where you try to get your teammates to guess each card before it falls. The crew loved the game, and things got intense throughout the games, especially game three, with Brian, Darrel, and I squeaking out a win. My record for the night was 2-1, which isn’t too shabby, and everyone won at least one game. Since it’s already getting pretty late, I’ll be plugging my computer into the radio telescope uplink, then working on Physics homework. Good night from Mars!

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