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1222-JournalistsReport

Crew 159 hit the ground running today.  Last night was very windy— so, after breakfast and briefing, HSO Giammona and myself headed out on EVA with the first goal of securing our runaway trash.  With everything securely stowed, we hopped on the ATVs and headed out to extend our radio signal and geomorphological surveys.  The third goal of EVA today was to test a new anti-fogging agent for use in our helmets.

To set the stage a little more thoroughly, wearing an EVA suit is a physical and visual challenge.  The life support systems are heavy and limit mobility, and the helmets soon fog up despite excellent ventilation and exhaust.  Especially when we are exerting ourselves, the thick condensation makes it difficult to have a full view.  This is all just to illustrate how happy Crew 159 is now that there is a better way!  By buffing the inside of the mask with a thin layer of baby shampoo, a technique culled from SCUBA divers, we were able to keep full visuals for an entire 2 hour EVA.  Can’t even express how good it feels to completely SEE how gorgeous Mars is, and to be able to explore it that more thoroughly— we’re stoked!  (The shampoo works even better than commercial anti-fogger, so we recommend it highly for future crews.)

Thanks to our crystal clear helmets, we had a marvelous time among the Morrison and Summerville Foundations — sedimentary layers of silts, sandstones, shales, bentonite clays, and volcanic ash.  HSO Giammona and I continued our test of the radio boundary, assisted by Engineer Cocchiara as our HABCOM.  The grey skies lowered, so we returned to the Hab ahead of schedule to a delicious cous-cous dish prepared by Commander Stoltz.  After lunch, crew members relaxed and conversed before settling into individual study and reports.  Commander Stoltz continued working in the Observatory towards enabling the CCG camera’s autoguide function, and was able to align hardware & software; Engineer Cocchiara is writing a complete crew & rover procedure; and HSO Giammona prepared his YAGI antenna and handheld VHF/UHF transceiver for this evening’s ISS flyover.  As for myself, I am editing photo and video from the past week, and working on a proposal based on our radio boundary surveys.  Later we’ll reconvene for dinner and maybe watch the film HER before partaking in all the science that an evening can hold!

UPDATE:  HSO Giammona made an initial attempt to to contact the International Space Station via APRS beacon with embedded message: “Hi From MDRS.”  It’s a clear, cold night, and we could see the ISS flying past the moon, so bright!

Another awesome day on Mars.  Yes.  We are a happy crew.