4:30pm: Arrived in Grand Junction, CO. Lots of cold white stuff all over... they call it snow and apparently it falls from the sky. When I left Southern California it was really cold there with temperatures around 68F but last week Sunday it was nice and warm at 73F (shorts and T-shirts) when we took the girls to Disneyland.
8:30pm: Had dinner with David, Diego and Paul. Came back to the motel and met up with Steve. First impressions: they are smart, really nice and down to Earth (or is it Mars?). We had a wonderful time talking about each others backgrounds, research plans for the next two weeks and our plans for tomorrow. I have a very good feeling about the next two weeks. The crew is very excited and pumped-up about going to the MDRS tomorrow.
There are some issues going on at the MDRS right now that we have been monitoring. Due to record breaking cold weather, the Hab has had many power failures, frozen water pipes to and from the GreenHab, issues with the water recycling system, issues with the main computer that had to be rebooted several times during the day, and some of the crew members of 87 have not been feeling all that well. We also heard that the Musk Telescope is not working. About a month ago the crew of MDRS-85 reported that the computer that controlled the telescope had failed. Since we had several astrophotography experiments planned we worked through a solution where we could control and point the telescope using Bianca's laptop computer. Bianca had also worked out a thermal protection system for keeping the computer warm during the frigid nights of the Utah desert that are now being reported around 8F. Because of the computer malfunction we could not control the telescope from the Hab, but we had a work around pointing it manually directly at the site of the telescope. But yesterday we received word that the telescope mount, the electronics pier and the controller had malfunctioned and needed to be removed and shipped back to Celestron for service and repair. What a disappointment. Now, I am a big believer that when one door closes another always opens and a new door did open for us when we found out that there is a Radio Telescope that needs assembling. We quickly volunteered ourselves to take on the task of getting this setup. We are really excited about this. I believe that we are required to set it up while we are "in-sim" meaning that we have to do it wearing "analog surface suits" (spaces suits) which will provide its own set of challenges as well. But, we are going to give it one heck of a shot. This is in addition to our micropaleontology study, our GreenHab study growing plants, our GPS EVA tracking and photo geotagging study and the Food Study. It looks like we will have enough to keep us busy during our rotation.
9:10pm: I am sure the crew of 87 is looking forward to going home. We are looking forward to MARS. Tomorrows wake up call has been requested for 6:00am. I hope I can fall asleep.