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  • Mars Date/Time:  Year 1, Sur One, Thursday, Sol 54 (1.1.54)  20:22 NST
  • Earth Date/Time:  Saturday, 27 February 2016  2:00 PM PST
  • Distance traveled:  5,555,363 kilometers

In addition to its launch facility near Arica, Chile, ESEP has four ‘Centers’ around the world. The primary Center is in San Jose, California, USA. There are also Centers in Kumamoto, Kumamoto Prefecture, Japan 熊本市; and the twin Operation Centers in Figueres, Spain and Perpignan, France.

On January 30, 2016, all ESEP operations converted to Noctis Standard Time (NST) at the Mars landing site. Since then the Director of ESEP and most of his leadership team have chosen to move from Center to Center on Earth to stay with the daytime at the Mars landing site. This way they have a day of schedule adjustment when they fly to the next Center, but then they enjoy daylight on Earth at the same time the crew is on their day schedule. Currently, the leadership team is split between the twin Centers in Spain and France.

This also means the leadership team experiences late nights when the crew of the ESS Queen Elizabeth II is up late like tonight. Last evening the ship had a near disaster when the Munitions Officer was pulled out the firing chamber into space. His safety tether drifted into the ICP barrel just as a fuel pellet had been pushed out and he was sucked into space.

Fortunately, he wasn’t seriously injured, his space suit didn’t become damaged and leak, and the pilot was fast enough to abort the detonation of the pellet milliseconds before the computer sent the command. The crew also recovered quickly from the incident and was able to fire the ICP drive 45 minutes later. The QE II was now travelling at 147,258 kilometers per hour.

The ESEP leadership team and the Command team of the QE II planned a special mission assessment meeting tonight at six PM tonight and they were now two hours and 22 minutes into the meeting. 

Nick was speaking from his office in Spain, “…our concern now is that the crew might develop a ‘cursed’ mentality about this mission.” Wendy spoke up, “Director, my ground team has expressed this to me and I am aware of the possibility of that attitude; however, my assessment is just the opposite. The crew has developed a “bring it on” attitude and my sense is that if we lost this ship the crew would just don spacesuits and grab the Sagan when it comes by tomorrow.”

Nick laughed, “I agree. This crew is a special group of people. I trust in your assessment and I’ll have a little chat with the our Counselling trolls down here.”

Jenna changed the subject, “Nick, when will your team move to San Jose?” Nick replied, “We’re leaving here the afternoon of Sol 60 and sleep in the air. Will be should be in the San Jose Center by eight AM of Sol 1.

Jenna said, “That reminds me, we have been talking about making the first day of every Mars month a holiday.” Nick lit up, “That’s a great idea. Do you have a plan for your first holiday?” “Not yet,” Jenna replied, “but we have almost a week.” Nick said, “Keep me posted and we will make it an ESEP-wide holiday.”

Nick continued, “In honor of the new holiday, let’s consider the final item on my list as our present to you. Ken, when the Sagan left dock our cameras picked up an extra pod on the ship. You were supposed to have three, now you have four.” Ken said, “How did it get there?” Jenna’s suddenly began to listen very intently. Nick said, “We don’t know how it got there. After the Sagan left, Claude’s team conducted the standard inventory and discovered a pod missing. We checked the video file and found it two days ago. With everything else, we decided to wait to tell you.”

Jenna suddenly showed her military persona, “Was the pod there on the Sagan before or after closeout?” Nick knew Jenna was asking an important question, but he didn’t know why it was important and said, “We’re not sure, we haven’t had time to do a review of the video to know when it was docked to the ship. It could have been weeks ago.” Jenna fired back, “But I’m willing to bet I know when it happened.”

Jenna had gone into another world, as if the meeting and everyone around her no longer existed. Jenna called to the First Officer, “Anna.” Anna was two decks above them but was participating in the meeting from her workstation. “Yes, Admiral?,” she replied. Jenna continued, “I need you to check out the Sagan section by section.” Anna was confused, “What am I looking for Admiral?” Jenna hesitated while she thought. If what she was thinking was correct, the camera may not see anything.

Ken suddenly realized what Jenna was thinking, and added, “Anna, in each section, turn the lights on and off while you have it up on your monitor and note if you see a change. Start looking at….Director, where was the pod located?” Nick was now fully confused, “Uhm, cargo section three, Quill four ‘D’. Jenna, what’s going on?” Jenna smiled and said, “Just looking for some lost equipment, Nick.”