March 14, 2024 – 17:47
Good evening, Imagination 1!

I forgot to mention that today is Pi Day (3/14)! Maybe you found some small way to celebrate. This is your last night at Shackleton Base. In the Sonoran Desert we’ll dip to 44F (6.7C) tonight. When you arrive back on Earth tomorrow, you should expect a cool 55F (12.8C) and a 55% chance of rain.

Every evening I’ve looked forward to reading your reports and seeing SAM through your creative lenses. The art that you create long after the mission ends will continue to enrich our understanding of live could be like on the moon and beyond. I’m so looking forward to it.

Thank you! It’s been a pleasure serving as CapCom for you.

Mikayla Mace Kelley

March 14, 2024 – 18:12

Pressure: 1.45 inches of water
Lung height: 63 inches with blower at 25.50 Hz
CO2 Lung: 583 ppm
CO2 TM: 1083 ppm
CO2 Engineering Bay: 1936 ppm
CO2 CQ: 2117 ppm
Water tank level: 29 gallons of water
Hydroponics: 6.6 pH, 2.2 EC

Notes: There is algae in the water sample test line. The former imbalance was corrected with nutrient solution. And at noon Liz harvested greens and noticed a leak on the floor. Four of the vertical pipes needed to be tightened. Chris did so, swabbed the rack, and [investigated] to determine source of leak … opened one of the spigots on the second tray level to get more water to the plants and that was causing it to overflow. Problem fixed. Julie added 50 ml dilute acid.

We’re feeling serene, in the groove and both looking forward to the Earthlings we left behind and feeling wistful about our house on the Moon. SAM has taken good care—great care—in building this otherworldly house. We’ve tried to repay that by taking care while we live here, where we can see in real time the impacts of our actions—truly the crucial part of sustaining life in space. Visualizing that in a larger system, say, Biosphere 1, that’s more difficult. But this stewardship is a form of tenderness that can help everyone, everywhere, forever.

Morning art: Liz doing editing and reflecting. Ivy working on her unique mission log—the Imagination 1 tapestry. Julie singing in the lung. Chris jammed out to everything from the Dropkick Murphys to the mellow strains of The Decemberists as he organized/chunked sections for the Esquire article. We shared musical recommendations too.

You know, EVAs. Julie and Chris felt really good about their [EVA] excursions.

Julie: Today, before my helmet went on for my EVA, I took a moment to close my eyes and picture the lunar landscape–huge, rounded mountains, dark sky, sunlight angled low. Then the helmet went on and I took careful steps, the lunar landscape set aside as I focused on carefully climbing up the ladder to be attached to the reduced gravity rig. It was all in the body at that point–pushing off the ground feeling buoyant and heavy all at once, simultaneously bouncing and clomping my way to the simulated lunar regolith. Pulling out my stamp and pressing it into the regolith went better than expected despite the bulky gloves and struggle of kneeling.

After a second attempt on the rig with slightly reduced counterweight, I headed over to the rock shelves in Earth gravity for a third attempt at printing, with good outcomes. The stamp was my lunar take on letterpress printing–the “old style” of printing with individual metal or wood letters–using a wood typeface printed by hand, scanned, and turned into 3D words using the 3D printer inside SAM. Part of why I love letterpress printing is the physicality–it’s just you, the type, and the press. I always take a deep breath before I pull a print, and I did so today as well before I pulled up the stamp from the regolith. On the Moon, as on the Earth, we create with both our hands and our minds, our bodies and imaginations.

Chris: I went last and felt calm and centered if a bit aware of the, well, increased awareness. Liz was great in support of Julie and Ivy, who suited me up. (Having the fan on during donning and doffing helped us all.)

I had prepared a cuff list, though I didn’t really need it. A bit of homage to the real Moonwalkers. My first goal was to move deliberately, to be aware of what I was doing in what environment. Trent got me helmeted up, and there was the welcome gift of whooshing air. I was surprised by how all-encompassing the air was—the ultimate white noise. I did find it startling at first when, in bending, the air flow was in my ear. So a bit of “airplane” ear feeling.

But the helmet afforded an excellent view, and I felt stable the whole time. Right now, as I let the experience live in me subconsciously, it felt a bit like wearing my backpack but over all of my body.

The gravity rig was breathtaking, sometimes literally. Well-cared-for by Trent and Matthias, I left the ladder and left Earth gravity behind. The crotch harness reminded me of the system making this illusion possible but I focused on steps, body control, that slightly awkward, sometimes graceful (or, at least, light) touch in the “walking.” The whole body became involved (and I felt that back in the hab).

After two runs, I came back to Julie’s aphorism-in-regolith to take photos with the Lomography Automat Instant camera, a throw-back Instax-film operation. I removed the camera with no problem but pressing the ON button while turning the focus ring (whose small handle is right by the on button) took some time. I cannot replicate which fingers I used—I believe I may have used my next-to-the-pinkie finger to depress the button and push the latch at the same time. In any case, it worked. I felt focused on the tasks and, in between, tried to imagine doing this for 7 to 8 hours on the Moon.

I rotated the focus ring correctly and took pictures without being able to use the viewfinder—close ups for this camera don’t always match the viewfinder. It was no problem removing the small prints and putting them in Ivy’s pouch. Then I came off the rig and walked over to the second regolith deposit and took more photos.

Had I been thinking I would have removed the wide-angle lens before dropping in the prints, because it was difficult to feel the lens in among them. I got it out and carefully separated the lens covers. Again, slow is smooth, and smooth is fast. I did not let brief pings of potential frustration to distract. I just pulled on the rubber caps and removed them. Unscrewing and screwing the lens wasn’t that difficult though the wide-angle lens took a couple of tries to latch in.

Then a couple of selfies and I was able to press the multiple exposure button to get both ends of the Mars, er, Moon Yard. I was not able to easily press the two exposure buttons on the back, which, alas led to many underexposed shots of a poem in dark regolith. One or two I might be able to process-up for visibility. Another shot was out of focus but shows the terraced rocks and regolith, almost like an experimental photo of an experimental set of the weirdly insane East German space sci-fi flick In the Dust of the Stars.

Back on the rig, helmet fogging, trying to feel the body on the Moon and trying to connect with the Moonwalkers, even just a little. Sweaty, relieved, a bit in awe of the experience and the astronauts who do this and will do this, I came back in to friends helping me with Gatorade and doffing. When I went to change in the TM to cool air and dry clothes, I yelled out in victory.

In space, no one can hear your victory cry. But that’s on space, not us.