Wow, thank you all for the birthday wishes! (Mission Support included!)
It’s hard to feel ‘isolated’ when there’s so much love being shown.
I share a room with my crew for basically 90% of the day. Still, they somehow managed to pull off a birthday surprise, even planning a cake a week in advance. Given shelf-stable and freeze dried ingredients, tell me this isn’t an impressive space cake:
In the afternoon, the commander asked if I’d like to help make a video for our friend.
I should have been suspicious then.
Knowing the goofball our buddy is, I was excited to jump on board. We started making our hab tour, making sure to point out vital parts of our shelter. This quickly turned odd as we began to spend a bit too much time things such as the contents of our compost toilets and the individual packets of dehydrated food. Meanwhile, in other areas, several crew members were ninja-running downstairs, hunched over with balloons packed against their stomachs.
Towards the end of our fake tour, I was led over to the kitchen to be surprised by my crew mates, kazoos and all, and a properly decorated dining area. At the same time, one rushed over and bombard me with a lei and hat which I was not allowed to remove.
While we ate, they all explained how they managed to bake and hide a cake inside a habitat. They secretly took care of baking while I was out on EVA in the suit, doing a task and they stored it in an unexpected place.
We ended the night with (research of course), but also a bit of clue and a lot of laughter.
What a thoughtful crew.
It’s early on in the mission, so the challenges haven’t truly begun, but I can’t help but think back to a friend’s presentation. She studies psychology of spaceflight and gave a great presentation on isolation once. Isolation doesn’t have to be in space, she pointed out, nor in a habitat locked on a volcano, in Antarctica, or under the sea.
Feelings of isolation happen every day- right on Earth. Maybe from friends, family, society.
Although we are on an analogue Mars mission, miles away from other people with no phone, google, or the ability to hug friends and family,
my birthday wasn’t very isolated.