Today with Crew 143's first EVA I was able to begin my project sampling the floristic diversity of MDRS. For this initial EVA, I proceeded to sample plants and lichens as I normally would, with only the added encumbrance of the Mars suit. This proved to be a bit of a challenge, and I plan on arranging my kit differently for future EVAs to expedite the sampling process through better tool organization.
Still, I was able to collect 7-8 different vascular plant species, and 8-9 different crustose lichen species within the vicinity of the hab. This likely does not represent the full diversity of either group near the hab, so future EVAs will likely involve come collection close to home in addition to collecting at the target location. Two items of note: no mosses were encountered on EVA, and there are many plant species here that have died back for the - really comprehensive collections will need to involve summer work as well.
Identification and processing of the plant and lichen samples will take place tomorrow morning. Initial examination of one of the lichen specimens revealed potential endolithic cyanobacteria. This will be processed separately and identified post-mission, when a scanning electron microscope becomes available.