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Greetings from Mars!

It’s been a lovely day — many interesting and lively discussions throughout.  Crew 159 woke up to pancakes, expertly fried in butter by Astronomer Stoltz.  During the morning briefing, it was decided that as we’ll be missing the release of Star Wars Episode VII, it makes sense to make costumes out of tin foil and duct tape, and to perform our own speculative version of the film.  What with the sheer mass of Star Wars dorkage represented by Crew 159, it’s clear that our version will be spot-on.  Right?

XO Emmy Jewell, Engineer Cocchiara, and myself then left the Hab on our first scheduled EVA.  As two of us are new to MDRS, we scouted the terrain and enjoyed ourselves in the Martian landscape, which is challenging to navigate in our suits.  The snow had melted overnight.  After climbing west up the hight of land where XO Jewell had found the geocache, we spent a long time returning east along sweeping, wind-sculpted rock formations in a big circle back to the Hab.  Later in this rotation, we’ll take lichen samples, do some field geology surveys, and test a prototype chi detector, which can scan for chlorophyll from the rover.  While we were outside, HSO Giammona inspected the antenna for his upcoming HAM transmission project, and Astronomer Stoltz whipped up a delectable jumbalaya.

After EVA ended and we all had lunch, the members of Crew 159 discussed our Martian living wills in case of accident.  Crewmates had a wide variety of  end-of-life wishes, ranging from cremation to organic recycling to a ceremonious ejection from the airlock.  The mood wasn’t morbid at all: in faithfulness to sim, we chose to take the possibility of death a bit seriously, and our conversation was an interesting, informative way to get to know and trust each other.  Afterwards, we all settled into writing reports and individual studies, and soon we’ll either start a game or a movie before dinner.   Astronomer Stoltz will try to get the observatory operational this evening, if the weather permits.  I’m looking forward to a clear view of the night sky from Mars, or a moonlight vista of bluffs and mountains, but this is one of the most beautiful places that I have ever seen in any weather…