From the Diary of Zeb Brumley, Mars Prime Astronaut

today=T minus 96 days (~3 mo.) of 1st ever human mission 2 settle Mars. (stating obvious here b/c want 2 record properly for archaeological record—v. important this info remain well documented, esp. for future interplanetary colonization. more good + interesting things i write abt mission, easier + more inspiring future colonization will b!!) am 1 of 4 techs in crew #3 (of 5); 22 ppl total. only recently realized documenting history of 1st human experience (emotional, psychological, etc.) of living on Mars=critical + chance 2 reflect on value of mission 2 humanity (preserving human race thru possible extinction). thus, T=0 of journaling process. committed 2 documenting. hwvr, find that post-long day’s work mostly want 2 R+R/not think 2 hard, so writing this v. fast on lunch break. normally not good 2 skip lunch bt haven’t been hungry lately. maybe later will have chance 2 transcribe notes into memoir format. (note 2 self: try 2 keep future audience + readership in mind when journaling.)

where 2 begin? workdays here starting 2 blend into 1, tho didn’t used 2 b that way @ outset. then, was so excited i neglected 2 journal, even for posterity. outset/landing=exciting time, via starting major projects + being 1st permanent interstellar residents on highly selective colonial mission. just after landing, couldn’t get 1 word in when attempting convo w/ João, also in my crew, b/c he was so full of ideas abt projects, plans, construction, etc. but everyone calmed down v. much now we are in mo. 3 of mission—most of day spent working + building infrastructure, v. little chitchat @ dinner table + post-dinner (only time in day we r all together). my crew=in charge of mining recon, spend day roving + deploying instruments 2 take samples + compile + send raw data back 2 mission control who analyze. mostly do solitary work, performing (smwhat repetitive) tasks. occasionally check in w/ own crew members during day; rarer + rarer. awaiting further instruction from mission control. group energy changed from what was initially. e.g., don’t talk 2 João much anymore bt hear him crying in his bunker @ nite v. often. haven’t had nerve 2 ask him abt it—hopefully just a phase, will soon pass. is v. hard 2 listen 2 tho—taken 2 wetting small fabric scraps + using as earplugs.

other note: virtual contact w/ Earth significantly less reliable than expected @ outset. satellite feed often down. when up, is slow. bandwidth limited. am often v. bored and/or horny (smwhat embarrassing 2 admit bt feels important for fully understanding situation). Netflix takes forever; feel strange abt streaming porn under NASA scrutiny. beginning 2 think of most other crewmembers as potential sexual mates. not sure if weird/expected, also can’t ask b/c maybe unprofessional. (experimentation=not something i am opposed 2—during undergrad went 2 a school that was all abt that—but worried it will jeopardize mission’s moral integrity.) mission=more important than personal sexual needs.

unfortunately, smtimes feel overcome by desire for unattainable. anticipated this smwhat. b4 leaving Earth, thought I would miss nature + fresh air most. definitely true bt also am suddenly especially missing sandwiches (can’t make bread here) + dogs in particular. miss my old dog (Petunia), miss saying hello 2 dogs in neighborhood + contented face they make when scratched behind ears. miss having 1 curled up all warm beside me when watching TV. miss the way they beg (nvr thought I would), their eagerness @ sound of food hitting a bowl, how their paws smell bit like popcorn.

not sure why am so fixated on memory of what a dog is like. bt something on my mind lately.

admit that being on Mars has been v. hard + not what I expected. bt just b/c actuality of mission=different from expectations does not mean mission=not just as critical as it seemed when signing up. on contrary, maybe mission=more critical now it is clear how difficult + impossible-seeming job is. very purpose of science: using ingenuity 2 overcome obstacles that seem like can’t possibly b overcome. build flourishing Mars society w/science=xtrmly beautiful universal message abt humanity, possibility, progress etc. (note 2 self: keep writing abt these things b/c affirmations=important, make sure reasoning not forgotten, esp. for u. writing this=good. keep doing.)

kish I’d brought a ukulele. or other lite instrument, so could learn 2 play over the years + get good/talented. not upset I brought Rubik’s cube bt only so many times you can solve in under 20 sec. b4 gets a little old. keep returning 2 my copy of The Case for Mars by Robert Zubrin, book abt necessity of interstellar travel for survival of human race—inspired me 2 apply 2 work Mars mission in 1st place, brought along b/c of hi sentimental value. v. helpful when losing sight of mission’s importance in face of challenges; try 2 flip thru every nite. reminder of meaning of work, scope of mission, etc. turned 2 it often in weeks just b4 leaving Earth for good, esp. after last meal w/ family when hugging Mom + Dad + sister + Petunia goodbye + realizing in head that would nvr b able 2 touch/hold them ever again, esp. Mom + Dad (+ Petunia), esp. when they die + being laid 2 rest. spent rest of week imagining their funerals + not being there + only getting 2 appear on a screen, + not being able 2 sit w/ when lying on deathbeds + hold their hands one last time b4 they pass away, etc. actually, reflecting on this now=not so pleasant.

have 2 keep importance of interstellar colonization in perspective! humanity needs new homes, esp. w/ all threats of nuclear war + asteroid events + global warming + ultimate expansion of sun (i.e. incineration of Earth) in 10B yrs. thru Earth history, 5 epochs of mass extinction, even now est. 150 species go extinct ea. day. bt w/ science, humans=not destined for extinction. 2 prevent eventual extinction, humans must spread 2 other planets. so Mars=new hope. altho idk if Zubrin really thought hard abt what living on Mars=actually feels like. can’t help bt imagine him writing book + then walking home, eating sandwich, having sex w/wife, petting family dog absentmindedly. Zubrin=theorist, not astronaut. while theory=v. important 2 our mission, doesn’t describe totality of work/experience. ergo writing abt personal experience=xtrmly necessary, 2 better preserve human element of mission for future gens. provided mission=successful + future gens can benefit + send billions of ppl over + bring their dogs etc. + we are not just spending rest of lives here for nothing.

am digressing smwhat—back 2 topic, try 2 stay positive. 4 me, favorite part of mission so far=just b4 landing, when planet loomed large on horizon (thru porthole window). so beautiful + stark. so stark in fact almost looked fake—but then reminded myself all those movies w/ planetary bodies look real b/c they are fake, + this looked fake b/c it was real. was very wowed. wished I could capture that moment + relive it again + again. maybe will write @ length abt the feeling later. if not, just know was v. v. intense, imagine most intense thing ever experienced + multiply by ≥2 + maybe u can just begin 2 imagine the feeling.

don’t really feel like in space anymore. (obviously?) on Mars, ground=just ground, sky=just sky. beginning 2 wonder if Mars’s appeal was a tad abstract. beginning 2 wonder if maybe was dazzled by idea of being on planet floating in space. (b/c technically speaking, Earth also=planet floating in space. bt living things there. not just barren rock landscape w/ station + rovers + 21 other ppl.) here, lots of hard meaningful work bt also kind of boring + v. lonely + bringing up some existential questions, e.g. what is the good life, how 2 achieve this on Mars, what if can’t b achieved despite 100% scientific ingenuity, etc. etc.

must remember importance of mission. HUMANITY MUST NOT DIE OUT. must prevent dinosaur-like extinction. all history of mankind for nothing. all things man ever did=meaningless. ßnot ok!!!! don’t want 2 just end up bones + detritus for future, more advanced race 2 discover + ponder over. mankind must progress. progress involves sacrifice, ergo no sex/sandwiches/dogs here yet. hopefully mission will b successful + then all those things can b realized, here + on other planets 2! more planets we colonize=more chance 2 survive as species 4evr=more chance 2 create important + cool technology=more fun + interesting lives= possibility of fun + interesting humans existing 4evr + evr, nvr being 4gotten, hooray! bt none possible w/o v. hard colonization process, have 2 remember i am only history’s humble servant—makes me feel better when i do. wonder if all historical explorers felt same way when sailing across ocean blue in their ships, w/ very same drive 2 prosperity. altho maybe parallel=little dubious b/c of history of exploration, even tho incredibly helpful 2 almost everyone + reason we have trade + good tasting food + modern advanced lives etc., not quite as good 4 some indigenous ppl who unfortunately died in process (learned little abt this in undergrad)? Bt different—Mars has no indigenous ppl (far as can tell); idea is next generation=1st indigenous ppl of Mars, big awesome historical moment (that i am crucial part of!!).

smtimes when thinking abt future, wonder how indigenous Martians will see own relationship 2 Earth, cradle of humanity. have no idea.

alarm for end of lunch break just sounded, have 2 return 2 work now. looking back, wrote a lot. v. good. a lot 2 say. have 2 go now bt hopefully write more, important 2 archive for future generations + history, etc. (N.B. 2 self: must keep doing b/c don’t want 2 vanish or b forgotten; ur work=v. important + must b remembered, otherwise why would u choose 2 do in 1st place??)

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