This report will include the details of two days, because of our previous inability to log on to Comm.
Yesterday, March 31, began exactly as predicted. Our six-part crew, split into two groups: Group A - which surveyed the bacterial
samplings of the HAB; and Group B - which suited up, mounted an ATV, and traversed across the Martian scape in search of varying
geologic/geographical features suited for testing the aerial surveillance capabilities of a quad-copter.
Group A gathered samples from helmets, rails, etc… swabbed a series of freshly-prepped petri dishes, and began a two-day
Group B, unintentionally, travelled to the end of Cow Dung Road and happened upon the Burpee Quarry. Our group dismounted and
scoped the area as a candidate for a canyon-like environment in testing the quad-copter’s ability to produce a live video surveillance
feed over varying topographical features and determined that the quarry would likely be among the best sites for testing the abilities
of the quad-copter as it offers a wide variety of geological features within a very succinct proximity. We then remounted our rides
and trekked south toward the HAB, marking several waypoints at the gypsum fields along Cow Dung Road and at the conjunction of a
curious secondary trail that leads behind the HAB. Upon Group B’s return to the HAB, we were informed that the downstairs lab area
had just, within the last few minutes, lost all power.
Immediately, we began an electrical Easter egg hunt to determine if the culprit was merely a fuse/circuit breaker, but soon discovered
that the loss of power stretched throughout the totality of the HAB and telltale silence of our sole functioning generator’s confirmed
the ugly truth—we were out of diesel fuel. Our incubated dishes, the plants in the GreenHab, the food in our refrigerator were all
now at the mercy of a diesel tank. I made the decision to break simulation and crawled to the top of the hills behind the HAB to
phone several contacts who informed me that our primary contact for fuel was out of town but would be returning until later that
day. A few hours of waiting and another phone call revealed a new truth to the situation—the needed diesel refuel had been properly
ordered several days before during the command of Crew 138 but had failed to arrive on time and would not arrive prior to the
following morning’s light. Ironically, the inability to pump water proved the greatest obstacle—not the loss of electricity for gadgets
throughout the HAB.
My crew and I now faced a tough decision—break simulation and head into Hanksville or stay the night in a waterless, powerless
HAB. It was after 1900 hours and Comm had begun but there was no way we could log online since we had no means to access to
the internet or the local HAB network needed for filing reports. After a few minutes of discussion, we determined that we wanted to
stay and our hearts remained at the HAB, but that we could not put the college within the contexts of that liability—so we piled in the
HAB car with one day’s clothing and rode off into the Martian sunset.
As twilight loomed half-an-hour later, we approached the doors of the Whispering Sands Motel, a local favorite, and requested the
utility of three, two-queen, non-smoking quarters. Room keys assigned, we hit the street to discover the only remaining source for a
regal Hanksvillian repast—The Duke’s Slickrock Grill. After delightful late night feast of cornbread and beef, we returned to our
second-floor motel rooms as weary conquerors in search of a hot shower.
The next morning (April 1, 2014), we awoke, took advantage of the Whispering Sands’ complimentary breakfast muffins and returned
to the HAB at 9:00 AM MST, just in time to see DG Lusko driving away from the HAB. We removed our padlock from the chained door
and entered the main door to find things exactly as we had left them—the lights on with nobody home. It was marvelous!
Now, behind schedule, we faced another decision—reprioritizing our remaining EVAs. Though undeniably refreshing, we were
already feeling the impacts of our brief sabbatical in Hanksville and our collective defaulting of Comm during the previous evening
(because of a power loss) had left us unable to report our shortage of gasoline and inability to conduct an EVA during the afternoon.
We spent the remainder of the morning assembling data for an approaching two-day Comm and conducting our own personal
research on team building, fungal contamination within the HAB, and digestive health. Shortly after lunch, we decided to end our
pre-Comm day by suiting up and trekking out into the Martian unknown in spaces near the HAB, which merited exploration for sites
worthy of quad-copter testing.
Despite our road bumps, Crew 139A is alive, well, and ready for further live on Mars,