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Walking on Red Dust

The Martian Scientist

10 May 2016, 22:13 UTC
The Martian Scientist
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

Yesterday, I broke a flask. A little glass flask, which slipped from my hands. A cheap flask, easily replaceable, that I would have quickly forgotten under normal conditions.
But I am not under normal conditions. I am living in a white dome, isolated on a volcano. As I have not seen a shop in the past eight months, and the dome has no postal address, I will have to go without. Without this flask, precious after all, that was part of the limited supplies we have here. Researchers on Mars will have to face constraints which are unusual to a typical western laboratory. Here, I am getting a taste of it.
First, the mass and volume of equipment I could bring were very limited. Partly because our lab here is smaller than the bathrooms of the labs I usually work in and partly because, on a real mission to Mars, every pound or liter will matter. So I have to work with as little as I can. It means, for instance, finding reusable alternatives to the disposable tools we normally use. Growing cyanobacteria in an aquarium turned into a bioreactor. Centrifuging tens of liters of liquid culture in 15-ml tubes ...

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