Date and time: 2 May 2012
Written by: Haritina Mogosanu, Crew 118, Commander
I felt a bit bitter today discovering that some science press in a city in New Zealand took an article about Dachstein and just republished it without even realising hence mentioning that we were part of the experiments as well. Had they read the whole press kit, they would have seen that the KiwiMars crew had not, one, not two but three Antipodes experiments scheduled with the Austrians. That is whilst a great article about our mission at MDRS already went to same city press, probably still stuck on someone's desk... Oh media...
Great press does wonders for any science subjects but in the same time it's hard to please everyone. So whilst we cannot be that upset on what happened, with a population of only 4,000,000 - which increases by 2,000,000 in the summertime with the tourist invasion season - the fact that everyone knows everyone else in this country (if you know what I mean) may explain our reaction. And the reaction was to the fact that same agency ignored the article we sent but rushed to copy/paste news from international news agencies.
I believe that the fact we managed to get a rotation at the Mars Desert Research Station is outstanding; what has happened here and in the planning of the expedition was also outstanding, perhaps as outstanding as having Aouda.X in Dachstein. At the end of the day the seeds of Aouda.X were planted from MDRS...
And although as far as KiwiMars 2012 goes, only six people went in SIM, we were just the tip of the iceberg. The project team behind us in New Zealand is huge and I would like to acknowledge them here, all of them who supported and encouraged us to keep going: http://www.kiwispace.org.nz/display/MDRS/Partner+Organisations.
We all hope that our expedition will be useful and inspiring for the New Zealand's space science education which exists here but it's very fragmented.
Which is also why all experiments we setup here at MDRS have a Mars analog and a New Zealand analog so that the students can follow, repeat and make sense in their own environment if they wish to.
The goal of KiwiMars is to engage as many teachers, students and specialists possible so that everyone can contribute to creating relevant space resources tailored to New Zealand. Why study space in New Zealand? Why not? New Zealand has so much to offer back and contribute to space efforts undertaken around the world. We have unique experience with the study of the Antarctic's dry valleys (another great analog place for Mars), unique and world class hydrothermal systems and lots of other features of interest: volcanoes, basaltic, glacial, periglacial features, gullies, river deposits, cave-biota. New Zealand is also one of the biggest extremophiles pool of the world. On the human side, we are a nation of explorers with a great heritage of small Antarctic and mountaineering expeditions for which the human aspects may be more relevant to space exploration that the huger expeditions and bases from other countries. Not to mention the Maoris who have boldly gone (on a waka and navigating by the stars) where no human has gone before them. So we are sitting on a pot of gold. Why not engage with it, make it matter for the sake of being at the forefront of space exploration and by doing that, inspire generations of students to learn their sciences right? And here is where we need a little help from the press too.
Back to our sheep at MDRS, we entered into a great routine (too bad we have to go so soon) and even started the traditional movie nights which is what happens when thing go well and the stress of "oh my God what am i going to do now?" is gone. Today was a day of recollection, of catching-up and planning for the close up of the project. I even indulged myself into going on a spectacular ATV drive. However every ATV drive is spectacular here.
Driving back through amazing red colours I was thinking that I wished I was really on Mars.
Perhaps one day I will...