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.

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One response to “Sol 11 – HabCom

  1. Mike, it was great to have you help out with the food! And let’s do some more karate at some point (maybe tomorrow?). Good luck with all of your homework — I know it is a frustrating distraction from life here at MDRS. I had to review a paper that one of my colleagues is considering submitting for a deadline on Friday — I guess the real world just isn’t completely avoidable for two weeks straight. I’m sure you can catch up on your homework, though. You might need to take a break from Terminal, though! 🙂 (Don’t worry, it’ll be patiently waiting for you.) If you do sign up for a programming class next year, I hope you’ll blog about it. I’d love to hear your impressions! And yes, there are tons of books that would suit your interests. See you in the morning!