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Journalist Report
02/03/2014
Tereza Pultarova

Giant leap for Crew 135

It might have been just a small step for Elif and Martin, however, it was a giant leap for the Crew 135 in its exploration of Mars. Today, two days after landing, our first two crew members ventured out and put their feet on the surface of Mars. 

“It was so exciting,” said Elif Oguz, a crew scientist and a PhD researcher from the University of Strathclyde, the UK and the Technical University of Istanbul. “I am so happy to be here. We are living on Mars and today, we took the first step on the Mars surface and started exploring the environment. I have always read so many things about Mars and now we are actually here,” she said, admitting the spacesuit wasn’t particularly comfortable and at first felt rather claustrophobic. 

Martin Kubicek, a crew engineer and also a University of Strathclyde PhD researcher confirmed his colleague’s impressions: “It was a little bit frightening, you know. You walk outside the habitat with something on yourself that you are not really familiar with, than you recognize that you can’t see properly because the helmet is not crystal-clean, that every step is problematic – common things 
like sitting or kneeling down or writing down even short sentences become almost impossible.”

However, Elif and Martin didn’t go out just to learn how to walk in a space suit. They have an important task to carry out. Considering the fact that the station has been built in the early 2000s, it has been already through some wear and tear in the extreme environment. It is therefore of utmost importance to make sure all the life-critical systems work properly. 

“We were looking around the habitat and trying to pick systems which would be suitable for a reliability study. These systems include generation of electric power, water systems, the all-terrain-vehicles, greenhouse and many others,” Martin explained. 

When an air-conditioning unit breaks down on Earth, you might be hot and uncomfortable, but you will most likely survive. On Mars, on the contrary, you would be in imminent danger of suffocating due to a sudden lack of oxygen. 

“Don’t worry, everything is working, we double-checked,” Elif reassured us smiling after returning to the habitat.”

“According to our mission objectives and mission plan, we have successfully completed the first EVA,” Commander Ondrej Doule commented on the latest milestone in our mission. “We have inspected all the spacesuits and all the sub-systems we need for the EVA so we currently know what the state of the technology is. It is unfortunately on a slightly lower maintenance level than we expected. Results from the first EVA are currently being analysed and we will select a couple of sub-systems for the failure and risk management analysis.”

The latest milestone has raised the crew's morale, the work is getting up the speed and we are getting ready for further more challenging tasks.