Monthly Archives: February 2010

Job Prospects

Yesterday, I had my first day of work at my new job. Myself and one of the other Briggs Calculus LAs are the two tutors that will be running the RCAH Math Help Room, which also started last night. We met at the classroom a few minutes before it was set to open, met with some RCAH employees and the RAs for Snyder/Philips and Mason/Abbot, and ate some doughnuts. It was pretty chill, as meet-and-greets go, and we weren’t just completely ignored by the RAs. Plus, two students stopped by around 2100, so we weren’t completely useless! Pretty good for just two hours of work, and I’ll be working there again on Tuesdays for the rest of the semester.

Now, why did I take this job when I already have a fine job as a Briggs Calculus LA? A few simple reasons, really, one of which includes a third job which I haven’t mentioned yet.

The Briggs Physics professors contacted me a week or two ago, asking if I wanted to be a Physics LA for next year. I’ve applied for this position for the last two years, alongside the Calculus position, but I never took the job. My first year as an LA, they decided that I didn’t have enough experience yet (plus I hadn’t taken a single physics course through State yet…), so I got into the calculus track. Last year, I received the calculus letter first, and, not wanting to be without a job for a year, took it. I found out a few weeks later that I had been accepted for both positions, but since Briggs will not let a student be an LA for two different subjects, I only worked the one job.

Which brings us back to the present. I got the e-mail, talked with one of the professors about my MDRS mission (he had been involved with The Mars Society for a while around the time that FMARS and MDRS were starting up and saw my article in The State News), and decided to tentatively accept the position after thinking it through for a few days. While I haven’t received my actual letter yet, that’s just a waiting game at this point, so I’m not worried about not having a job for my senior year.

Why did I accept? Well, after next year once I get to grad school, I’ll either be working as a Physics TA or as a research assistant. Getting a year of TA experience under my belt before starting grad school will help me secure one of those positions, helping to cover my costs on my way to earning a Ph.D., which is my eventual end goal. Plus, making more a semester isn’t too bad either (depending on how many sections I work or if I’m a lab LA), especially since my summer internships are up in the air.

Speaking of summer internships, I’ve decided to rank them, just in case I get accepted to more than one. Of course, this would depend on exactly what project I’ll be working on at each (which I may or may not be informed of when I get a letter), the costs associated with travel and other expenses, and the actual timeline of the internships, which thankfully are pretty flexible. So, here’s the ranks:

1 – NASA JPL, NASA JOHNSON
2 – UC DAVIS
3 – NASA GODDARD
4 – NOTRE DAME

For those first two, I seriously don’t know which one I’d go to more. I could get some more planetary exploration-type experience at Johnson, but I could also be involved with more of the computer science and robotic side of things at JPL. It makes the decision harder when you consider that two of my fellow MDRS89 members are (currently, at least) those two centers, making it seem like at this point choosing a favorite sister. I think that I’ll be hearing back from the first of my possible internships within the next month, but it may be much longer away.

And that takes us back to this new job at the RCAH Math Help Room. I need to extra money, especially considering the fact that my bills are currently a large chuck of my bi-weekly pay, not considering certain “soft” expenses which I have tried desperately to cut from my life. I’ve already cut out soda and a lot of other things that I normally enjoy, partially for the health benefits and my experience at MDRS, and partially for the fact that they cost much more. It also doesn’t help that I’ve gradually lost money from Christmas time, even considering everything else that’s going on…

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Returning to Life

With one week passing from the end of the crew changeover to MDRS 90, and six days passing from landing back in Michigan, I felt it fitting to take an inventory of my life at this point to quell my Mars withdrawals. It’s been a tough first week back on Earth, especially school-wise, but I think that I’m finally starting to come back around to normalcy.

Life at State
Waking up in the morning for classes instead of EVAs still feels a little off, but thankfully my sleep regiment imposed by MDRS has helped out, with the exception of my late sleep-in today. While yes, it didn’t help out waking up at 0730 on Tuesdays to teach, every other day of the week is fine. I’m also a little quicker to get up in the morning too, making it more likely to stay awake once I am up. I’m also back to eating real food every day (not just every other), although we do need to go grocery shopping soon to replenish our stores. I’ve yet to clean my room from before I left for Mars, but I may have time today or tomorrow to take a stab at finishing that up. I haven’t slept in the sleeping bag since I returned, since I don’t want to take it out of the sack.

The actual classwork has been fine. I had two exams this week and a paper due, with my final exam for this season falling on next Friday. I didn’t do too well on the two exams, but I did get a 4-point on the paper, which is great! I attended two labs last week, and will have two this week as well, to make up for missing the first two labs for my electronics class, but after that things will be back to normal for even that. The fact that I’m back to doing homework every day instead of riding ATVs is a little depressing, but I’m used to the fact that I’ll be doing homework for quite a few more years anyway…

Since I am now twenty-one after having one of the best birthdays possible, a lot of different opportunities are present for me on the weekends. Last night, I hung out at the bar with my roommate and a few of our good friends, and it was great! The place wasn’t packed, there was no line to get in, and I genuinely enjoyed myself. I also woke up this morning to an e-mail from Carla to check my mail, and I was greeted with a sweet NASA sweatshirt, some freeze-dried ice cream, a lanyard, and a postcard, which, combined with everything I got from her while on Mars, makes for a huge birthday stash of gifts and delicious treats. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting a single thing, so she could have given me a piece of paper with NASA scribbled on it and I’d still be ecstatic. I also got a good “birthday gift” from The State News by appearing on the front page of the paper, plus a multi-media spot on the website. All very cool.

In the News

Front Page of the February 11 State News

Since I’ve already mentioned The State News article (you can read it here), I might as well discuss the media coverage that has surrounded my return to Earth. Our crew blog has a list of all of the news coverage we’ve received, as of February 12, which you can browse here and includes all the articles that I’m going to talk about now anyway. My hometown paper, the Birmingham Eccentric gave me the front page as well, on their Sunday paper for February 7, which coincided with me returning to Michigan post mission. Both of those articles had secondary information: the multi-media spot for my college paper, and a quote on my thoughts on the existence of life on other planets for my home paper. I will also have a similar article in the February Lyman Biggs newsletter, but since that hasn’t come out yet I can’t really link to it… While I am slightly surprised about the amount of coverage that we as a crew and me personally have received, that might just be because I had seen no coverage of any of the previous crews. I only recently found out that some footage for an episode of The History Channel’s The Universe (which I own the first three seasons) was filmed at MDRS, since I hadn’t watched that particular episode before. At the same time, it makes sense, since I’m almost positive that I’m the first State student (and greater Birmingham area resident) to take part in the program. Also, as a result of having the photo shoot at the Abrams Planetarium, I may be giving a talk there about my experiences sometime this semester. I also have an entire Google page devoted to me (just search “mike moran mars”)!

Work
I am back to being a Calculus II LA for the semester. I love the job, but it will be strange once more standing in front of a class once a week and grading their exams and quizzes. I’ve also recently (i.e. yesterday) interviewed for a math tutoring position for the RCAH, just to get some more money during the semester and some more job experience. I should hear back early next week about whether or not I got the job, but not to jinx myself, but I think that I’ll get the job based on the final questions he was asking. Should be pretty sweet. I’ve also, strangely, been accepted for a position as a Physics LA for next year, which is strange considering the fact that I have already accepted (I think…?) a position as a Calculus LA for next year. The past two years, I was denied being a Physics LA since I was also a Calculus LA, so either they changed their minds, saw the paper and said, “oh shit, we need this guy to teach for us,” or didn’t realize that I’m still a Calc LA. Or I could have not accepted the Calc position yet… I’ll find out when I get the official statement of employment, which the professors said should be coming shortly, and stopping in the office to check things out.

I’ve also applied for some summer internships: REUs at the University of California, Davis campus, and Notre Dame, and the NASA USRP. Depending on which one I’m accepted to (if any), and where NASA places me, I’ll be spending my summer in California, Texas, Indiana, or Maryland. Any of those would be nice places to be for two months, and I should be hearing back about those within the next few months. I’ve also looked at the Caltech/JPL SURF program, but with a deadline of this Friday and all of the other work I need to get done, I may not have the time to complete the thorough application and round up a third reference, since the internships I’ve already applied to only required two (or one).

So, I have a lot going on still. I spent today in the shower, at a Chinese food restaurant, in my bed, watching TV and reading TIME, eating freeze-dried ice cream, and putting off studying and working on homework for as long as I can. Once this goes out, though, I’m actually going to clean my room to facilitate the homework aspect of my plans.

Earth Return Vehicle

Yesterday, MDRS 89 relinquished their occupation of the Hab over to the all-Belgian MDRS 90 crew. It was a bitter-sweet moment to say the least.

The morning felt almost somber, with all of my movements more sluggish than usual. I ate slowly, walked around the Hab checking on everything, and made sure that I had everything packed. I cleaned off the jumpsuits, removed our nametags, and helped Kiri laminate our newly-printed and updated Quick Guides. I carried bags outside and dropped them off on our “staging area,” which was nothing more than some plywood resting on 2x4s on the far end of the pressurized rover garage. As a crew, we were all set to leave once MDRS 90 showed up, but as individuals we weren’t ready to leave the Hab, possibly for good.

Due to some major car problems, Crew 90 arrived three hours late, along with their two separate news crews. It was a huge shock going from six people in the Hab, our Hab, to over twenty in a matter of minutes. The entire two-hour handover was a huge sensory overload, and the language barrier was a little tough at times, but eventually we got all of our things into our car (including Darrel’s jacket) and drove down Lowell Highway, saying one last good-bye to the Hab.

And with that, my MDRS mission ended. Once we rounded that corner, that was it. We talked about our first real meal, our first shower, Darrel wanting to get me drunk, all the normal conversational topics. We decided to drive straight to Grand Junction, after dropping off the geophone equipment with DG at Hollow Mountain, so that we could shower and eat and still have time to sleep before waking up for our flights in the morning. Especially for me, since my flight was leaving at 0625, but that also meant that I could drive the rental car to the airport and drop it off, which was really nice.

We got back to Grand Junction, showered, and got dressed (Carla quickest of all, surprisingly), and piled back into our ERV to head to Rockslide Brewery, which we had picked out earlier in the mission as our first meal stop. We pulled up, got a table, and started thumbing through the menus. I went straight for the Bacon Cheeseburger, with curly fries, a side salad, and a sampler of their microbrews. Our table got three of them, but since Kiri wasn’t drinking, Carla was helping everyone out with theirs, and we were partially celebrating my birthday, I got a full one to myself. Once those were gone, soon after ordering calamari for our appetizers, I ordered a pint of the one I liked the best.

All of the food was delicious, and we talked and joked the entire time (HabCom to EVA crew…), and ordered a few more rounds of beers. It was great to relax and eat some real food (I finished all of mine, then ordered dessert), plus to just unwind after staying in a Hab for two weeks. Near the end of the night, Luís ordered two pints, one for me and one for him, and I couldn’t really refuse, could I? The ride back was hilarious as well, with Kiri driving, Carla in shotgun, and the four guys in the back two rows joking and laughing. We got back to the hotel and hung out in Brian and I’s room for a while, then eventually fell asleep.

I didn’t sleep that well, but that might have been because I didn’t want to sleep through my alarm and miss my flight. I got up, got dressed, and double-checked the directions with Brian before heading out to the airport. I parked, dropped the keys off at the desk, printed both of my boarding passes, and checked my bags. I fell asleep on the flight out to Dallas and slept the entire way there, knowing that I would most definitely wake up during my three-hour layover and wouldn’t easily fall back asleep. The layover wasn’t even that bad, and I did spend quite a bit of time walking around and taking pictures, plus grabbing some nourishment while there.

I landed in Detroit after a mildly uncomfortable and packed flight, grabbed my bag, and met with my parents to take me back to State. We stopped at Wendy’s on the way, I told them all about the trip, they showed me a news story that had been published earlier in the day, and we got back to State (and got some Menna’s).

And with that, MDRS was officially over. I miss the Hab, I miss the crew, I miss the rovers, I miss the suits. I don’t miss the short showers, the Alpineaire meals, or the muddy snowy mess outside of the Hab (unless I was riding a rover…). I may see some of the crew later this year, depending on how my plans actually pan out, so that will be nice, but for now I am back on Earth with my friends and roommates.

Sol 13 – Last Full Day

And a full day it was! The morning started off with a bacon, egg, and cheese breakfast dish which I happily ate, followed by Brian and I driving out to Hanksville in our pressurized rover to pick up Amnon Govrin and his twin sons. He has recently become very interested in space exploration, as his blog shows, and he and Brian have had an internet correspondence for a little while. He asked to come visit the Hab to see what it was like, so we agreed that he should come on our last day before the crew change-over, which is happening tomorrow. So, we drove back out to the Bull Mountain Market to pick them up, since his Prius would not have handled Lowell Highway well. We drove back to the Hab, while he asked questions and we gave him a brief overview of what we’ve done, and parked in the pressurized rover bay.

As I was to head out on the day’s first EVA with Kiri and Darrel, mirroring our EVA 2 team, but this time headed toward Valles Marineris, since we had already hit the other major martian landmark, Olympus Mons, quite a few times before. We got dressed, showing the process to Amnon and his kids (which was easier for me, since I already had my flight suit on from when we picked them up), and stepped into the airlock. During the five-minutes depressurization, we suggested that they go out to the pressurized tunnel to watch us head out. We divvied out the keys, with Viking I firmly in my possession, and exited out onto the martian surface for the last time in sim.

Because of the hectic nature of the morning, the ATVs had not been warmed up prior to our departure. Viking I took a while to warm up, and start, but once it was working and howling we were off. Kiri, as EVA commander, led us back toward the turnoff to Cactus Road, which we had been unable to find during EVA 16. Based on observations from Crew 88, which we received yesterday, we found out that we had been at the turnoff to Cactus Road, but had not recognized it for what it was, since it simply looked like a stream bed. Kiri led the way down the path, with Darrel bringing up the rear, as we made our way toward Valles Marineris.

While driving down the newly discovered road, we actually found ourselves right next to Valles Marineris without even realizing it. Instead of trying to figure out exactly how to get there, we drove on down the road to see what else we could visit, since we had only been out for not even half an hour at this point and were only a short drive from the Hab. So, we drove further down the road, toward Candor Chasm, trying to find a cool place to stop. Eventually, we turned around and started heading back, at which point we decided to climb up a large outcrop (later identified as Mount Sagewood) due to the presence of some interesting geological formations. We climbed up, but then decided that going to a particular part of the face wasn’t good enough, so we went all the way to the top.

It reminded me of our trek up Olympus Mons (back on Sol 8 for a number of reasons: I was with Darrel and Kiri, we climbed a large outcrop, we took a ton of pictures, we could see the Hab from where we were, and it was fun! The view might have been even better than from Olympus due to the presence of some large canyons that we could easily see from our perch. Plus, the sun was cooperating with us much more, so the colors really popped out, even through the scratched and dirty visors. Once our jaws returned to their normal positions, we started to climb back down, but instead went down a different path that looked to be much easier than the one we came up.

Once all six of our feet were back on level ground (with only a few slips along the way), we remounted our rovers, and I led us back to the Hab. Similar to the two other times I’ve done this, I felt great! Viking I just flew over the broken ground, and at one point actually flew when I hit a jump, and it felt even better than earlier in the mission. I periodically checked to make sure that Kiri and Darrel (who was filming the return) were still behind me, but otherwise just looked at the road ahead and drove the ATV back to the Hab. When we returned, Amnon and his kids were still there, so they watched our muddy rovers (and bodies) return to the Hab following our successful EVA 19, the second-to-last of the mission.

We left the rover keys in and re-entered the airlock, celebrating and congratulating each other on a great mission. Once the airlock was pressurized, we walked into the EVA Prep Room to start removing our dirt-covered suits and helmets. It was a great end of my ten EVA career (tied for second in the crew), plus really enjoyed myself. After we desuited, Darrel and I drove Amnon and his kids back to their car at the Bull Mountain Market (where we had picked up the food), and I drove back to the Hab. It was nice driving an actual car/pressurized rover for once, although the ATVs were possibly the best part of the mission dynamics.

After checking and refilling the oil, we returned to the Hab to find Brian, Carla, and Luís already suiting up for their last EVA of the mission. I helped them into their backpacks and helmets, inclusive of bungee cords, and saw them on their way. Once they were clear of the Hab, the three of us remaining went to work cleaning up the living quarters (and Darrel worked in the Green Hab) to prepare for the crew changeover tomorrow. MDRS 90 is the first all-Belgian crew, and I am very excited to meet them tomorrow around noon. We’ll be eating lunch with them before leaving, so that will be nice to pass off the information from one crew to the next.

The EVA team returned, we helped them get out of their suits, and we sat down to write reports before eating dinner. We had chili with cheese, but unfortunately it ran out before I could get seconds. Deciding to eat through some of our leftovers, I heated up a bowl of some sort of Alpineaire meal, but it did not taste good at all, so I decided not to eat any of it. I did, however, eat two pieces of birthday-reprise cake after blowing out the remaining three candles. After filing out my food questionnaire, and realizing that I’ve lost ten pounds in two weeks, I decided to eat two more pieces of chocolate cake while waiting for the rest of the crew to get ready for a last game of MDRS Clue, and our last night in the Hab.

Since today was hectic, plus I haven’t downloaded all of the pictures yet, not many pictures for this post. Since this will be my last post from the surface of Mars, I will see everyone back on Earth within the next few days!

Special Science Report – February 4, 2010

Note: This is my first and only science report submitted to The Mars Society. It took a while to complete the alterations on the radio telescope, and even longer to collect meaningful data due to the approach of Jupiter toward the horizon and the relatively inactive Sun. I did not collect any data today, our last day in sim, so I will not be filing any further science reports.

Ignore the solid line near the middle (caused by a passing plane), and the times don't line up due to cutting the data out of the entire recording session.

Project: Utilizing the Radio JOVE telescope to observe the Sun and Jupiter

Personnel: Mike Moran

Operations Data Collected: Short (s-) bursts recorded at 18:31:21 MST on February 3 lasting 4.3 seconds. Periodic lower count s-bursts were observed over the following 38 seconds, including a second maxima from 18:31:39 until 18:31:42. Data was recorded and filtered using Audacity and compared to available recordings of Jovian s-bursts.

Audacity and Radio JOVE receiver recorded signals between 18:22 and 18:56, during the fourth observing session of the day.

Technical/Equipment Issues: None. Guy lines on radio telescope re-tightened, but prior to did not affect observations.

Discussion: Signals recorded, saved, and timestamped for future analysis, specifically increasing and refining the noise reduction already used. Extraneous hum (due to airplane transit) to be removed to purify the recording.

Questions for CSO: None.

Questions for RSL: None.

Sol 12 – Home Stretch

This late into the mission, things are still running smoothly for the most part. All of us have been working diligently on our planned projects, plus a few more, and we’ve all meshed really well over the almost two weeks we’ve spent together so far. In two days, we’ll be on our way back to Grand Junction for some real food and real showers, leaving the Hab in the hands of Crew 90 from Belgium. I almost can’t picture sleeping in a normal bed again, or being able to stand on our balcony without waiting by the door for five minutes, or having fresh bread more frequently than every other day.

I’ve gotten so used to living in the Hab that I don’t think I fully realize exactly what is happening. I’m stuck in an eight-by-ten-meter cylinder with five other people, sleep in a sleeping bag, and can’t watch TV or fully browse the internet, yet I don’t even mind. Maybe the seclusion from the rest of the world changed me more than I realize, but if it did, it’s for the better. I don’t need to be constantly “plugged in” or always be in contact with everyone I know, but in some cases I’m still very muck linked to the world I left behind. I worked for a few hours on homework, most of which was due earlier in the mission, so that I can try to start off the rest of my semester on even footing (once I get past the first two weeks back, of course).

Getting close to the end of the road, the crew’s conversations have shifted away from EVAs and what to do that night and toward what the first real food we’ll eat once we leave the Hab is (bacon double cheeseburger for me). We’re already sensing that we’ll be back in civilization soon, and our minds are already starting to revert back to their old selves. It would be quite the psychological experiment to sign a crew up for two weeks, then at the end declare that they must stay a further two weeks… And now I need to go knock on some wood to make sure that doesn’t happen to us.

Similarly to yesterday, I spent the entire day in the Hab, with a few small exceptions: I returned our EVA rescue sled to the engineering/generator bay, adjusted the guy lines for the radio telescope, and snapped a few pictures of the scenery, since the snow had cleared considerably during the day and from days previous. It will be strange going back to a place where there are trees instead of sedimentary outcrops, cars instead of ATVs, people instead of rocks, and doors that are simply by themselves. I’m definitely looking forward to having sidewalks instead of muddy trails, if only for the fact that I don’t get completely covered in mud when walking or doing anything outside.

Michigan State will have undoubtably changed while I was gone. The snow might not be covering the group anymore my friends will have gotten used to the fact that I’m not there to hang out, and my roommates will have gotten used to having an empty bedroom (and no french toast). Even some of my classmates will have noticed my absence, especially in my smaller classes. Of course my professors will have, since I’ve been communicating with them briefly during my time here and informed them months ago about being gone for two weeks. Seeing my family, even if its just my dad, will definitely be welcome, and I’m ready for my dad’s comments about eating squirrels when he sees my unshaven face.

Pretty boring day again for me, with just a few MDRS-related things completed today, but that also means that tomorrow can just be focused on schoolwork (and a possible last EVA) and answering questions from a visiting blogger to get an impression on what simulating Mars is all about. He’s also bringing along his twin sons, who just recently turned nine, so it should be cool showing them all the cool things we do here… like sit around on our computers… I’ll show them the ATVs. Or the radio telescope and Musk, since I am the astronomer of this crew… Or just the scenery.

Right now, I’m just getting ready for our EVA team to get back (Brian, Kiri, and Luís have been out since 1240 and it’s 1812 right now) before starting dinner and getting the team out of their suits. After that, it’s either MDRS CLUE or Guesstures, both of which should make for a great night.

Sol 11 – HabCom

Not every day allows you to get out of the Hab, since in an actual martian mission, you wouldn’t leave the Hab aside from during EVAs. Today, our only planned EVA was to start Brian’s seismic geophone experiment on Radio Ridge, accompanied by Darrel and Luís, since some of the snow had begun to clear and the ground seemed more solid than it had in previous days. So, they took the triumvirate of rovers up onto the Mid-Ridge Planitia and down Radio Ridge, leaving the Hab at just after 1300. They planned for a four-hour EVA and returned outside of that window, making this our longest continuous time on the surface (though I’me pretty sure that my participation in EVA 15 still holds the distance record), and based on their brief post-excursion comments, things went pretty well for the conditions and our commander’s lingering illness, with just a few small hiccups from what I could discern from the garbled radio transmission and their comments.

So, today, I spent the entire time inside. After breakfast, I powered up the radio telescope and grabbed my textbooks, hoping to finish something of my homework. I did finish up my first quantum problem set, which was due last Friday, but aside from that didn’t get much work done otherwise. Tonight I’ll be working on my HPS paper that has a draft due tomorrow (I’m e-mailing it in) and that I haven’t started, meaning I’ll be pulling another long night to make use of the 0000-0500 free bandwidth period. Having to worry about homework and exams and papers and labs is definitely the worst part about being here and missing school, not to mention how far I’ll be behind no matter what when I return, but that’s what happens when you have to miss school for something as cool as this!

Plus, other people think that what I’m doing is cool as well. The State News is running a story the Tuesday I get back, so I’ll have a quick interview and photo session on Monday at some point (and that day is already really packed), and I’ll also be featured in an article in one (or possibly more) of my local newspapers. I’m sure that, after these get out, then Groves will probably want to run a story as well, and it could be picked up by other news sources. It’s strange to think that people will be reading about my time here, but then again what is this blog for? Of course, grabbing a newspaper and seeing the story without any prior knowledge is much different than actively seeking out this blog (or my Facebook-linked notes) or the MDRS website or our crew blog.

Anyway, back to the day. I stayed in, and partially helped Kiri and Carla cook two meals. I started boiling a pot of water for soup, but then I was called to act as HabCom for the lone EVA of the day. It’s the HabCom’s, short for HABitat COMmunicator, responsibility to converse with the EVA team before, during, and after the trip and make sure that everything works out as they should. So, I came down our stair/ladder hybrid and helped Brian, Luís, and Darrel suit up while asking and recording basic facts about the mission (destination, planned times, special equipment, etc.). Once they were out the airlock and on their way, I returned to the main living area to eat some lunch, as they had finished making the soup that I had started.

The EVA team was soon out of radio contact, due to the lack of repeaters located on Radio and Skyline Ridges to the west of the Hab. That meant that I just had to keep the radio nearby just in case a sliver of radio transmissions made their way to us, but otherwise I was free to work on almost anything I wanted. I tried to work on my homework, but I also tried to help out Kiri and Carla make some food for the crew. I’m not the best cook, so I knew that I wouldn’t really help out that much, but it was better than simply sitting there while my mind eroded from Analysis. I cut up some of the tofu, and I helped make the marinade for said tofu. Pretty good for never doing either, right?

When the EVA Team got closer to the Hab, and regained radio contact, I had to go back to work, interrupting my karate session with Kiri. I went down to the EVA Prep Room with our tracking spreadsheet, and waited for the airlock to repressurize. When Brian, Luís, and Darrel re-entered the Hab, I helped them out of their suits while checking that all of the backpacks got plugged in and the radios began charging, plus took some of the debriefing notes from Brian, who was EVA Commander. Since dinner was still a little way off, I sat back down at my standard workstation and did a little more radio telescope observing, and I possibly picked up a signal! I’m re-listening to it and comparing it to actual examples of solar and jovian radio emissions, since I picked up the signal in the grey area between when I can observe one or the other.

Once I sat at the table, I was greeting with a great dinner, and not just because I partially helped make it. The tofu didn’t taste that bad, the couscous was pretty good, and the dessert was the best part! Carla had somehow concocted another great dish from basically no ingredients (and you can read about more of her exploits here), and they were great! I’ll probably cut off another piece tonight before we cross over to the second-to-last non-cooking day in the Hab. I don’t even really like coconut, which was the main topping, and they were still amazing! Thankfully, Carla is collecting some (or all?) of her recipes that she’s made up here so that I don’t have withdrawals when I head back to State and have to cook for myself every day.

After a great meal, I got some more lessons from Kiri about Unix, which was great. I think that I’ll probably sign up for a programming class for next year, either for Python or Unix or some other language that I haven’t even encountered yet, just because I like it so much. I’m not going to switch majors, however, since I still love Physics more, but having both at my disposal? How could life get any better? I may even pick up some books on both mentioned languages, as I’m sure that they have some at Barnes & Noble or one of the bookstores, so that I can continue to learn them after MDRS is over (or to hold me over until maybe the summer…).

For now, though, I need to continue ploughing through my homework, since I have a lot due and I am way behind. I need to study for exams, write a paper, etc. Also, since pictures take up much of the time of my posts, and since I didn’t take any today, this will be a rare all-text MDRS post… Sorry, but that’s the way the gypsum crumbles.