Mars mission to Iceland – Part 6

The Final Close-Out

Our fieldtrip to analogue Mars is almost over. We have returned from our field site for the final time and are now packing our EVA equipment and samples for the return to Earth. It’s going to be sad to leave behind such a wonderful place, but we’ve managed to collect a wealth of data and gained a lot of experience.

On our second to last day on analogue Mars, I got my first taste of off-road roving, taking the Beast Mark 2 to the top of a ridge of steaming sulphur. It was probably delusions of grandeur, but as we slowly bounced along I was reminded of those iconic videos of John Young and the ‘Lunar Grand Prix’ on Apollo 16. What with the dramatic view on our arrival, I felt incredibly lucky to be here, carrying out a job that I truly enjoy.

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Despite my apparent emotional state with leaving Iceland, I can honestly say that I won’t be sad to see the back of the car battery I’ve been humping around for the last week. This 19 kg lump of lead-acid has been powering almost all of our field activities, but isn’t half a pain to carry out each day. The first of my acclimatisation exercises will be trying to straighten out my battery-knacked back.

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Our last day in the field was focused on wrapping up all the little bits and bobs that we were unable to finish because of the previously mentioned vertical water. However, today was extremely windy at the top of the ridge we were sampling from, and so we were all very happy to be back at the Rover at the end of our final EVA.

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And so it now only leaves packing, pizza, and an 8 hour rove back to our launch site in Reykjavik. It’s been hard work, but always fun, and Iceland is eternally beautiful. My fellow analogue astronauts have been a joy to work with on this mission, and I look forward to future explorations.

With the ultimate goal of our fieldwork in mind, I have to say that I feel incredibly privileged to be playing a very small part in our exploration of Mars. In the end, I look forward to the future version of our test camera taking pictures just like this, but from a distant, dusty martian surface.

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