MDRS 165 Journalist Report
Earth date: 03/18/2016
Last day on Mars.
Two weeks went by at a moderate speed. It was neither too short or too long. Just about the right length.
As a journalist, my days were occupied with EVAs, photo shoots, photo editing, and report writing. These were all important tasks; my job was to capture the moments of our Mars life and inform the world about our activities. I was wowed by the sheer presence of the surrounding landscapes at first — but after a few days, the scenery got repetitive. I was forced to find new perspectives on our daily routine, which I struggled with.
Yet, photos and videos are one of the few medium that allow us to represent our Mars life in the most realistic way. Once I mastered the use of camera in a spacesuit on Sol3, I became far more comfortable capturing our moments as I saw them.
At the same time, it is a little sad that my experiences here at MDRS would not remain as vivid as what my photos and videos depict.
I mentioned this in yesterday’s report — but I feel that MDRS has too much connection to the outside world. Even if we enter the SIM in the right mindset, sooner or later we would find ourselves relying on external supplies. In other words, we feel too comfortable.
One thing I learned in this rotation is that it is extremely difficult to recreate the condition of an extraterrestrial world. Here, we have gravity, air, water, food — something we would not have on our future Martian bases. One of the things we can experiment with, then, is the restriction we have. The obvious restriction is our EVA suits. Out there, you must cope with the bulkiness of the suit and still maintain your finger dexterity to conduct your researches or whatever you are designated to do.
Yet we do not feel restricted with our water or food consumption. We measure the usage after every water-involved activities, but somewhere in our minds we are expecting the water tank to be refilled at some point in the rotation.
It is up to the crew to decide on rules right at the beginning to maximize the SIM experience. It is also important for each crew to decide on the colonization stage they are in: exploratory, industrialization or complete colonization. For example, if the crew is in an exploratory phase, they should have a very limited access to water and food. In the industrialization phase, the crew would have better access to resources. In the complete colonization phase, the crews should be allowed to request for resupply. Crew activities will be shaped differently depending on the specific phase they decide to be in.
This is something I will definitely consider if I were to return to MDRS. Having the right mindset and a carefully selected colonization stage would be the key factors to maximizing the SIM experience for all crews.
Wishing the best of luck to Crew 166.