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Journalist Report
02/06/2014
Tereza Pultarova

Preparing for Martian Dust Storm

We woke up into a freezing Martian morning today. With the temperature
outside plummeting deep below zero overnight everyday, Lucie has to
take extra care of her precious sprouts and plants. Every evening, she
takes the youngest, tiniest sprouts inside into the habitat as they
wouldn't make it in the frozen greenhouse. Although bright sunlight
can warm the greenhouse during the day to over twenty degrees Celsius,
at night, the temperature drops to as low as minus three.

"Even the bigger plants are not doing very well in the freezing cold.
To help them at least a bit, I cover them with bed sheets every
evening to create some sort of protection to keep the air inside
warm," said Lucie, who has already finished the set-up for her light
experiment and hopes to see first results in a couple of days.

Filip, Martin and Elif today started with Vratislav's experiment that
will assess structural properties of the habitat. As every future
Martian crew has to consider the risk of a Great Martian Dust Storm,
it is extremely important to learn what type of damage the base could
sustain during such a storm. The Crew 135 is trying to assess risks
associated with a Great Mars Dust Storm using computer modelling.

"A Great Martian Dust Storm is a cyclone of an enormous size with a
several-hundred-km-in-diametre vortex. The wind-speed on the edge of
this cyclone could reach up to 350 kilometres per hour," our remote
crew member and author of the experiment Vratislav explained in an
earlier interview.

"These cyclones are powered by sunshine and usually develop about
every ten years. We already have a preliminary idea about the risks
for the base and the crew associated with a passage of such a storm.
As the station would be buffeted with the dust-packed wind, its
thermal insulation could be damaged, which would result in increased
energy consumption."

That obviously, would be a problem as the base has limited energy
storage and would need all its energy to survive the period when solar
panels wouldn't be able to produce any energy due to the dust in the
atmosphere. Because of the dust, also, the temperature in the region
would drop deep below zero, meaning the damaged insulation would
really put the lives of the crew at risk.

"We obviously can't simulate the Martian Dust Storm," explained
commander Ondrej. "However, we have were able to load the wall of the
habitat with some sort of uniform weight to simulate the force of
wind."

The crew than beamed the data up to Vratislav (who is located at a
station orbiting Mars) who will perform the calculations.