My journalist report today is the same as my blog entry. Pictures to follow shortly, and there's plenty on the blog.
During one of our first exploratory EVAs we spotted what we thought might be an old mine shaft, so
we dutifully recorded the GPS coordinates and decided to return.
While we would obviously not enter such a place, it was still interesting enough that several EVAs
later the crew went back to get a better look. Perhaps we could pretend it was an old lava tube,
full of Martian mysteries. Alas, in reality it was neither; just an old broken down stable
mysteriously placed in the middle of the desert for reasons unknown.
But there were still secrets to be found.
From the surface you can't even tell that anything is there and, its likely that a rover on its own
would have missed it entirely. But what looked like nothing turned out to be quite something.
As the team wandered around looking for science, Kavya came across a deep, steep sided gorge. "It
looks like there should be water down there," she commented. And indeed there was. Brown, soupy, and
in the middle of the desert, we had found water. Kavya coined it el Rojo Oceano (because it sounded
more exotic), or the Red Ocean in English.
So there it was, water on Mars and in Utah. We had done it. And for our purposes it's basically the
same place. The next question was how to get a hold of it for examination. How salty is it? Whats
the pH? Whats living in it?
The answers to these question would allude us for several more days. The water is located a dozen
meters down a gorge with steeper than vertical walls and the only apparently walkable path looks
like a prime area for rattlesnakes. We'd have to lower something down there to get at our prize. So
we came up with a scoop made from a rock, a cup found in the lab, and some super bright pink sting.
Since Alex has arrived our prime focus is now EVA rescue techniques, and we'll post more about that
later. But today also happened to be the day that we had a visitor from Boeing come out to make a
short film about us. So it was the perfect day for us to take a quick detour and finally get our
While not actually on Mars, the Red Ocean is still not a thing you want to fall into. Its a long way
down, you really don't want to try swimming in these suits, and how would you even get back up? So
Josh and I very carefully inched our way to the edge (which is actually the top of an overhang),
gently lowered the sample collector down into the water, and scooped it back up. We did this a few
times to ensure a large enough sample size and also to get some of the surface scum, which Josh
hypothesizes might be bacteria related.
So there it is: our pretend Martian water sample. It's currently downstairs in the lab awaiting
tonight's analysis. I'll let you know what we find.