Sol 8 & 9 | This Is Mars Calling The Children Of Earth

Communication to Earth from Crew 173, Mars Desert Research Station, Utah.

Summary Report for Sol 8:

Mission Status:
All is well with Crew 173. News of our mission spreads back on Earth, and as interest mounts, we must prepare for delayed comms between Earth and Mars in speaking with schools and news agencies.

Sol Activity Summary:
Like sheafs of wheat in the bountiful fields back on Earth, who bend and bow to the beat of the wind and weather, we too must adapt daily to the weather that Mars brings us. We had two interesting EVA’s planned for today, but due to bad weather, we set them aside and focussed our attention instead on our other projects today, specifically outreach. Roy had a request to speak with some students on Earth earlier this morning. After a series of comms tests he obtained a secure connection (22 minutes ahead of us of course, to simulate the reality of the distance between Earth and Mars) and spoke with the students from the ‘Young Israeli Astronaut Academy’, a programme which is part of the Davidson Institute of Science Education, the educational arm of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. The students were interested in discussing the geological experiments with Roy including the 3d printed bricks and regolith which they will be filled with. They also spoke to Rick and Idriss about their participation in the project. Then the crew knuckled down to preparing another video for our outreach activities which Niamh is in the middle of editing. We have high hopes for the final product and predict that it will pique the interest of even more Earthlings, highlighting the importance of our work here. There are remnants of last nights Slovakia culture night around the communal area, a reminder of the great evenings entertainment our commander provided for us.

Look Ahead Plan:
We continue to 3D print our modular brick system, and with Michaela’s and Roy’s students experiments from Slovakia and Israel respectively. Niamh continues to document our experience and hopes to complete her art project by the end of the week. We will push hard on more outreach activities for the remainder of our time on Mars, including answering some of the many questions that have been sent in to us from Earthlings.

Anomalies in work:
We are trying to understand how we are consuming an inordinate amount of water and internet usage as we have made no changes to our daily routine. Something is afoot and we will strive to solve this ‘gigabytes and gallons’ anomaly.

Weather today was less familiar to us, an inclement morning more akin to an Irish ‘soft day, thank God’ (rain, rain and more rain, with blustery gales). It perplexed the crew but hibernophile Niamh took them through the experience of getting ‘soaked to the bone, whilst simultaneously getting the wind taken out of ya’. Some understood, others still looked clueless. Thankfully, the afternoon cleared up nicely to the more familiar chilly martian sun we have grown to love since landing here. So we could put an end to describing the many different forms of rain in Ireland.

Crew Physical Status:
The crew is in good shape but getting cabin fever due to our inability to stretch the Martian legs, so as to speak. Tomorrow is another sol.

Journal Entry Sol 8 & 9

It’s great that all of Crew 173 share a common passion to inspire the next generation to dream big and believe that they can achieve anything if they are committed and hard-working. So it’s especially nice that we have been able to do so much outreach during our time at the Mars Desert Research Station. In the past two days we have communicated with 2 schools – yesterday we spoke to the ‘Young Israeli Astronaut Academy’ cadets, and today with students who are attending the same school that Idriss went to. Even with his old English teacher, Mrs Magalie. They asked us all about our experience here, from the experiments we are doing to our daily lives simulating Mars. At the end of the call, a shy student spoke and wanted to tell Idriss that knowing that he went to his school was an inspiration for him, and, if Idriss could do it then so could he. It was a special moment and thankfully I had the voice recorder on to capture it.

Roy Naor and Idriss Sisaid speak to students
Roy Naor and Idriss Sisaid speak to students

Earlier today Michaela spoke with a Slovakian radio channel, we chimed in a little bit too. Tomorrow a French news channel are coming to make a small documentary about our mission. We are receiving questions from our followers on social media, which we are answering every day and posting. People have responded very positively and we can see that our mission is going to continue long after our time at the Mars Desert Research Station.

This is why we do what we do. This is why we are all here at the Mars Desert Research Station. If we fail at all our experiments and all my art is never realised, it no longer matters. Success is ours.

It warms the cockles of my heart.

Niamh Shaw
Journalist & Artist, Crew 173

If you’ve missed the earlier journal entries from Niamh Shaw’s adventures simulating life on Mars last January as the crew artist and journalist on the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah, you can read them right here on HeadStuff:

Sol 0 | Mars Simulation in the Utah Desert
Sol 1 | The First EVA
Sol 2 | Celebrating Mars Israeli Culture Night
Sol 3 | Trouble Sleeping & Freeze Dried Food on Mars
Sol 4 | Snow on Mars
Sol 5 | How Do You Celebrate Irish Night On Mars?
Sol 6 | What Do We Do With Money On Mars?
Sol 7 | The Inspirational Power Of Mars