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MDRS CREW 155 - SOL 15
Cassandra Klos
Crew Journalist/Artist-in-Residence

Today I am submitting my final Journalist Report as part of the 155th
crew at the Mars Desert Research Station. We spent this last day
prepping for Crew 156 - restocking food, finishing painting, cleaning
up. Paul went into town to retrieve the new crew at around 1500. He
came back with a huge group of people (or seemingly larger than our
six) and we spent the afternoon giving them a overview of everything
going on. They left for the night and will return in the morning,
meaning Crew 155 has the Hab for one last night.

My heart is heavy as I reflect on the last moments of our journey back
to Earth. What made our rotation special from the very beginning is
that we are (were) all strangers when we started. We didn’t all come
from the same university, club, country, or even the same education
backgrounds. And yet, I learned how little time it takes for you to
feel connected to a group of individuals — strangers — when you all
have a common goal in mind. I learned that working on Mars is no easy
task, and definitely not a vacation. I learned that the only way to
make a Mars analog work is to accept the people around you for who
they are, to selflessly invest yourself in the goals of the mission,
and to allow yourself to grow and change along the way.

There are a few moments I’ll never forget, and I’d like to share them
with Mission Support.

I won’t forget the sound of Hispanic music ebbing and flowing
throughout the decks — that automatically meant Jackelynne was nearby.

I won’t forget Sam’s extensive obsession with rocketry and audiobooks
that permeated every dinner conversation in one way or another — the
first few times in complete seriousness, the last dozen times in jest.

I won’t forget hearing Stergios say, “Life’s too short” whenever we
run across a daunting problem, putting us back into perspective that
we can only accomplish things if we stop worrying so much about it.
Naturally, this became our crew motto.

I won’t forget Paul’s patience in every single endeavor we ran into —
whether that was using 20+ year old tools, dealing with faulty water
pumps, or selflessly devoting himself to a project to make sure future
crews have a better experience than we had.

I won’t forget the smell of Vietnamese food that permeated Deck 2 on
several occasions, Hung always proudly pumping a fist into the air and
yelling, “VIETNAM!” whenever we mention his heritage.

I won’t forget everyone’s willingness to be my photography assistant
for the day or two, helping me carry equipment from place to place. I
am truly grateful to have been surrounded by people who respected my
profession and helped me grow my project.

I won’t forget my first moments of walking on Mars in my EVA suit, the
weight of the pack with the feeling of limited oxygen. Hearing my
breath with every step I took. Looking through a scratched up helmet
that limited my periphery vision, wondering for a split second, “could
this be real?”

I won’t forget the long days that seemed to go by in an instant: wake
up, breakfast, morning EVA, lunch, afternoon EVA, dinner, free
time/chores, go to bed. Rinse and repeat.

I won’t forget Halloween night (one of my best Halloweens in years),
where we gave out candy to local Martian kids, came back to the Hab
and stargazed, and when we returned inside we were greeted by candy
from all of our countries — trick-or-treat bags that Paul put together
for us to make us a little less homesick.

I won’t forget crew game nights. Whether we were making things with
marshmallows, playing Cards Against Humanity, diffusing “bombs” over
walkie-talkies, or just enjoying each others company in deep
conversations about future space flight, our educations, our
experiences, or what we wanted our first meal out of sim to be.

I won’t forget the music Paul would blast in the morning to get us to
wake up. Groggy and partially miserable, you’d open your stateroom
door to find him sitting at the dining table on his laptop sipping a
Mountain Dew.

I won’t forget Jackelynne’s dedication to help us all — whether that
was with chores, painting, cooking, or even Sam’s math homework.

I won’t forget the running gag we made about Stergios’ hot chocolate
obsession, and by the end I just wrote “STERGIOS” on the hot chocolate
mix because we all knew nobody else had touched it in days except for

I won’t forget the rolling hills of red sand that surrounded us. The
idea that I could climb 20-50 feet in mere minutes made going outside
so freeing, even if I was constricted to an EVA suit.

I won’t forget the dust storms we encountered during Week 2. The eerie
noises the wind made as it whipped through the crevices of the Hab
made us feel like we were more on Mars than ever.

I will never forget the five people that I met on Mars. I miss my home
and family back on Earth, yet I feel as though I have also gained a
home and a family here at the MDRS. I am forever grateful for the
opportunity to have been a part of this MDRS crew and would spend
another two weeks on Mars in a heartbeat.

Signing off for the last time as Crew Journalist of Crew 155,

Cassandra Klos