Snowy Days at MDRS

We awoke yesterday to a beautiful white blanket of snow covering MDRS and its surroundings. In our morning crew briefing, we decided not to attempt a rover EVA in the snow. Instead, we opted to focus mostly on indoor projects like organizing and testing equipment, taking inventories, and writing. However, the snow beckoned us outside, and we all ended up crunching through the powder for more than an hour in the morning to enjoy the view while doing the daily engineering checks. Kiri found some interesting concretions on the hillside near MDRS. The snow continued to fall throughout the day.

By mid-morning, the internet was down, presumably because of snow buildup on the satellite dish. We decided to brush off the snow on an EVA rather than break sim to do it. Luis wanted to collect some fresh snow samples to complement the older snow samples he had obtained on EVA 6 yesterday, so we decided to clear the satellite dish on our way to do EVA 7. We went outside, cleared the snow, and were ready to trek cross-country in search samples when Carla and Luis urged us to go inside to retrieve their sunglasses. The reflected light off the snow was just too bright. We had to endure 5 minutes of re-pressurization to go inside and collect their glasses followed by 5 more minutes of de-pressurization to go back outside. This is how EVA 8 was born.

We set off on foot east-bound for Candor Chasma (not to be confused with the real Candor Chasma). Our main goal was to familiarize ourselves with medium-distance pedestrian EVAs on snow. We also wanted to test our ability to navigate without GPS under bad visibility conditions. We navigated with map and compass only and all wore headlamps to gauge whether they could help locate EVA Crew members from a distance. Luis collected fresh snow samples for subsequent biological testing.  He also spotted a big bone (likely a cow femur) that conjured images of huge martian beasts roaming the red planet.  You can see a picture of me with it here.

The view at Candor Chasma was breathtaking and well worth the effort getting there. We had problems with our helmet visors fogging, and it got so bad that couldn't see at all for the last kilometer or so on the return. I had to rely upon audio cues from Luis and Carla to help guide me back to the Hab. It was an exhausting but very worthwhile EVA, and we gained valuable experience.  You can read more about the adventure from Carla's and Mike's perspectives. The EVA photo slideshow is below:

MDRS Crew 89 EVA-7 and EVA-8

Today was another snowy day on Mars. The morning was mostly cloudy with 3 inches of snow on the ground, but by late afternoon the sky had cleared and the snow started to melt a little. It was my day to cook, so I made pancakes for breakfast. We know it snows on Mars, so our first EVA of the day focused on learning more about operations out in the snow. Kiri and I donned our suits and ventured outside to brush snow off the satellite dish and drive the rovers around on the snow to see how they handled. Surprisingly, the rovers weren't that difficult to control on the snow even though they just have normal tires. This may mean we can consider a longer distance EVA in the snow as long as we stick to the main "road" and drive slowly.

When Kiri and I returned to the Hab, the crew had its first group exercise session. This is something we'd been planning to do every day but hadn't had time yet. Today we finally felt settled enough into a routine to add a group exercise session to our daily activities. Kiri led us in a jazzercise workout. I've never done anything like it and found it a challenge. However, it was a lot of fun and a decent aerobic workout, although I'm sure people watching us on the webcam got a good laugh. Luis captured a lot of video that I'm sure will make its way onto YouTube eventually. He plans to lead us in a capoeira workout tomorrow. We also have some dumbells here that most of us have been using for strength training too.

After the workout and lunch, Mike and Carla departed for EVA 10 to raise the last antenna of the radio telescope. Mike talks about it more on his blog. He and Carla took advantage of the snowy conditions to test the dexterity of their gloves for construction using in situ materials by building a snowman.

I cooked garlic-shoyu tofu, vegetable couscous, and fresh herb wheat bread for dinner tonight. There was also leftover pear spice cake that Carla had made at lunch. The weather seems to be warming up, so we might face some more muddy EVAs in the next few days. All of the posts and reports for the past two snowy days are below:

Sol 4 (Jan 27)Sol 5 (Jan 28)
Crew Blog Post 1 (and 2)

Mike's Blog Post

All Daily Reports

EVAs 7 and 8 slideshow
Crew Blog Post 1 (and 2)

Mike's Blog Post

All Daily Reports

EVA 9 slideshow

EVA 10 slideshow


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