Against all odds, Team D-MARS 01 began its first Mars simulation on time as scheduled at 10:00AM Feb 15 Earth time. We have since cut off all communication with Earth other than through mission control. After so many months of preparation, and the pressure of being ready to launch our mission on time, it was almost a relief to close the door and finally start simulation. Our most important task today has been making the habitat both our communal work space and our home.
After commander Hillel briefed us on today’s schedule, we each took the morning to organize our areas and personal space: Reut set up the lab; Guy checked his cosmic ray monitor; Hillel and Nadav established communication with Mission Control; Jackie designed a visual schedule for the habitat and prepared her recording equipment; Alon, our architect, not only worked on the finishing of all the utilities, he also used his artistic touch to decorate the habitat with the personal items he asked each of us to bring with us from planet earth.
As the afternoon approached, it was time to test our training in preparation for the first EVA (Extra Vehicular Activity). Preparing our life support packs takes time, and getting into our space suits is a complete team effort! After a slight delay in departure, Reut, Guy, and Alon safely exited the habitat for their first EVA. Our goal: surveying the terrain and checking our external utility and solar power systems.
The remainder of the day was spent organizing the habitat, preparing for tomorrow’s challenging schedule, and getting to know one another a bit better. We tested for the first time our Genie food machine. This small little pink box re-hydrates freeze dried food in a plethora of flavors and meals using only electricity and water. Our solar panels give us enough power to use it whenever we want. So far, so good with the Genie.
After months of preparing for this mission, we finally sat down together for the first time with our assignments and tasks in front of us. Being the first team to test the simulation required each and everyone one of us to go above and beyond the task of being an astronaut in the mission. During the preparation for the mission, we never really had the chance to sit together just the six of us. I think I speak for all of us when I say that we feel honored to be part of such an amazing team.
Jackie and Guy finished off the evening with a short acrobalance session.
It’s a wonder what humans are able to do in no time at all when our intentions are focused in the same direction. After our first day in the habitat, I might say that our greatest challenge as a species is communication. Our greatest successes and our greatest failures as team members often boil down to just that. This became all the more obvious after our first day in isolation.
We are all tired, happy, and feel privileged to be part of this mission.
Looking forward to an early and challenging day tomorrow.