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A visitor to Mars arrived during a crepe breakfast prepared by Engineer Cocchiara— a journalist from Earth, arriving on the morning automated resupply.  Joris van Casteren is from the Netherlands, and visited MDRS as part of field research for an upcoming book.  He will be departing this afternoon, with our friends from Crew 158.  The Hab will be quiet without them, that is certain, and we’re so glad to have had such an excellent first week of our mission.

The morning EVA, Astronomer Stoltz and HSO Giammona, set off to test the prototype suit on a larger body type and extend the boundaries of our geomorphic survey.  At lunch (spaghetti), Emmy Jewell handed off Commandership to Engineer Chiara Cocchiara.  (We’re beginning a rotating Commandership for the remainder of our rotation; we will keep our original crew roles, but for sake of clarity, I am going to refer to each by their current highest-ranking position.  Thus, for the nest two days, Chiara is our Commander, with AstroEngineer Barak Stoltz as her XO.)  Then, it was time to say goodbye to the Jewells— they’re on their way back to Earth, and we wish them a safe & speedy voyage.

The crew spent the rest of the afternoon writing reports and speaking with Joris, who asked us so many thought-provoking questions that the conversation has continued long past his exodus.  The questions of who will go to Mars, how they will be selected, and how the initial organization of a society on Mars might seem initially straightforward, but soon open up many perspectives.  One of the things I appreciate most about Crew 159 is the collective ability, despite our different backgrounds, to listen and consider our various opinions; we are able to recognize idealism and courage in each other even if we are saying radically different things.  Also, have I mentioned lately that we all really like games.

Lastly, we received some exciting mail during our resupply this morning!  The bots brought us hardware for HSO Giammona’s HAM radio project, new batteries for my camera, and best of all, a 3D printer.  We’re going to play with it a bit and perhaps write a short operations guide to make it easy for future crews to include in their projects.  Other plans for the evening include astro-photography and a Surrealist pen-and-paper game.  Tomorrow is a day off… so we’re going to sleep in a bit.  There was a spectacular sunset on Mars about an hour ago, and though we’re still adjusting to our smaller crew size, morale is great.