The winds have died down and today will mark our last full day at MDRS. Cleaning, packing, and burgers await. We're all excited to get back to showers and classes, but there is always something so sad about leaving this place.
Yesterday we came out of sim about lunch time. The morning was spent fiddling with software to ensure we could export radio coverage tracks. Unfortunately, there was not enough sun to power the repeater battery and it had died. I decided to test the direct station instead. Eric and I suited up one last time and headed outside to take pictures for the PA Space Grant Consortium to show our appreciation. After the crew came outside and we noted the time we stepped foot back on earth, Eric, Billy and I got on ATVs to do one last coverage EVA. We traveled for 2.5 hours through the desert with insane wind gusts hitting us. It was hard to see and I had to stop repeatedly to wipe dust and water out of my eyes. We also couldn't hear each other. By the time we came back, my ATV had stalled out 5 times and Eric's had a flat tire. We were exhausted, but we got some great tracks out of it. I will post some once I'm back to normal internet. Just to mention the internet situation out here- we have limited bandwidth and cannot load photos, videos, etc. As silly as it is, I will be excited to get back to Facebook with photos!
Once we got back from the EVA, Chris and I ventured up to the observatory to untie the repeater. Because of the high winds, we had used ropes and guerrilla tape to ensure it would stay in place. The tape was so strong and well put that Chris broke the handle on the scissors trying to get it off. We had to laugh, but finally got all of the equipment inside. I spent a good hour packing all of it up and ensuring it was ready for shipping. It was then that Dan came down the stairs (about 4 PM) and informed me that our septic system had been condemned by the government and we could not use it. A porta potty would arrive late in the night and we were to "hold it" until then or use bags as they did on FMars to secure the discharge. Gross, much? When we asked if this was a joke, mission support replied with:
"Wish I could say it was... The testing they did in Dec. showed levels
of tritium and deuterium along with dioxides of hydrogen in
astronomical levels, in addition to the human and plant waste. The
source has yet to be determined and may be environmental. I just hope
it is not the potable water that has the issue... DG will have more
details when he gets there, and will also check to see if the septic
water is glowing.
Despite the email, we made dinner and watched a movie. We were all somewhat nervous and actually did hold it until about 11, when each of us individually went out in the dark, cold (29 degrees) desert to go to the bathroom. At 11:30 we received the following:
"OK, since it is now past midnight here in Texas, I will admit this was
an April Fool's joke. As I mentioned to DG and Artemis there is some
small amount of tritium and deuterium in your dihydrogen monoxide
(H2O) it is certainly not high enough to notice. Probably something
near the order of parts per quintillion and trillion respectively..."
We all died laughing at the fact that we were so convinced this wasn't a joke. We sat awake until at least midnight trying to come up with a way to retaliate. Mission support will be getting some great pictures from us tonight. After reading some of the bible to reflect on Maundy Thursday, we went to sleep to prepare for our last day.
"I'm having an identity crisis in my bed. It was two days!" -Me
Plans for today:
Burgers in town!
Off to our last full day,
Day 12 - Finally Deploying the Radio Antennas
8 years ago