October 17, 2014
Yesterday we were all errands and jitters and wondering how it would feel when that door closed on Earth for the last time this year. Then it was just a door, with a pretty red HI-SEAS logo on it that had been opened thousands of times before then, but now, now it is our airlock through which EVA’s begin with HabCom’s “Go for Hab egress”. One of my best friends, Brianna, was on the island and I was lucky enough to get to ride with her and our friend Ash from civilization to the dome; in true Hawaii fashion she sent me off to the red planet with a lei of my favorite color. I am proud to say I didn’t cry when I hugged her for the last time but I am not too proud to admit that those tears came not too much later. I decided not to call anyone in my family or my partner before we went in the dome and as a result I gave up my chance for a “last minute on Earth” chat with the people I love most. I did this for several reasons but most of all so that people wouldn’t confuse those tears with sadness or regret. I cried for the very simple reason that for a very long time I won’t get to hear the voice that yelled like Attila the Hun at childhood soccer games, the voice I struggled through Chinese and Greek pay phone systems to hear say “I love you”, the voices that always got just a little too intense over the acceptibilty of “yagi” to be used in Scrabble (those voices were always wrong but I still miss them), and all the other voices I’ve heard over the last month encouraging me to reach for the stars. I am thrilled to be on Mars, I am incredibly fortunate to be on Mars with Zak, Jocelyn, Allen, Martha, and Neil, and I am especially thrilled and exorbitantly fortunate to be on Mars with all of the people I love on Earth supporting me.
Enough of the sappy stuff, heres what you all wanna see right? Nerds in space suits! These are actually one of a couple different types of space suits that we will be trying out during our stay here on Mars. I know they look like we should all be taking this ebola outbreak more seriously but there are some excellent features of this particular suit: The wide field of view of the head area is nice, being flexible they are able to be stored in smaller places, and they are really good at keeping you from feeling the outside world.
There is a tropical storm, Anna, heading for the Big island of Hawaii which mirrors a minor and quite common sandstorm we’ll be dealing with here on Mars. To be sure we were ship shape for the approaching weather Zak and I embarked on a 10 minute EVA (plus 6 minutes of decompression in the airlock) to check on the Hab’s heavy duty vinyl exterior, current water levels, state of our hydrogen gas for our emergency fuel cells, and a visual inspection of the area around the Hab including our solar array. We are proud to report all systems are nominal and we will not be evacuated this day for the storm. Quite the opposite of running for shelter, we powered through an incredible task: inventorying every food item in our vinyl home. How much food could that possibly be?
An absolutely marvelous amount! If anyone has recipes that call for yautia or yuca flour and anchovies in mustard sauce send them in because we don’t have a clue what to do with ‘em. We also have a ton of awesome food, everything from Tang and brownies to freeze dried celery and popcorn to haupia pudding and spam (every flavor you can imagine) and everything in-between. Jocelyn was head chef for our first real meal here in good ol’ Hab and I assisted, together we made some great spaghetti from freeze-dried ground beef, freeze-dried sausage, freeze-dried bell peppers, freeze-dried onions, tomato powder, regular and gluten free pasta, and plenty of water. Believe it or not it was actually really great, not like momma used to make but ya’ know, momma had all the creature comforts of Earth, not like us martians.
Those blocks of blue, red, and red and white stripes in the picture above? Earth flag, Candian flag (for our fearless commander), ol’ glory, and (not pictured) one of many designs for a mars flag. It is three vertical fields of color: red for Mars as it is, green for the beginnings of terraforming in the future, and blue for the eventual creation of another water-laden planet. Its not this crew’s favorite but we will be making some attempts at a new one to reflect how we have come to find Mars, feel free to shoot me some suggestions! For now though, it is time for this little martian to be hitting the sack. I’ll fall asleep to the sandstorm pounding on Hab vinyl, its amazing how much it sounds like rain sometimes…