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  • Mars Date/Time:  Year 001, Sur Two, Monday, Sol 12 (001.2.12)  07:50 NST
  • Earth Date/Time:  Wednesday, 16 March 2016  2:00 PM PDT
  • Distance traveled:  69,394,248 kilometers   Time Delay:  3 mins 18 secs
  • Distance to Mars Rendezvous:  323,015,504 kilometers

“She said we should treat him like a graduate student. I’m saying we should make him a graduate student.”

Alexander Rivera was not one of the names most people on Earth would know. He was the Biology Officer on the Mars Mission, and yet, his function was one of the most important. He was responsible for all of the natural sources of air, food, and water.

Zeke, or Ezekiel, Jackson had been assigned to Alexander for a work detail. He had Zeke manage the bamboo plants throughout the ship. Every hab section has large wall sections of bamboo to produce oxygen and absorbing carbon dioxide. Zeke’s job was to learn about caring for bamboo and monitoring their growth.

Zeke’s work impressed Alexander, and now he was discussing his idea to help Zeke earn a masters degree, with the Science Director, Lanny Deaton.

“I have contacts at UC Davis who will be happy to serve on his thesis committee, and I could be Zeke’s advisor,” Alexander continued, “We’d have to work out the topic of his thesis, but everything we do is groundbreaking work, so whatever he does will help us report our findings back to our colleagues on Earth.”

Lanny replied, “Let’s go farther. Let’s check with UC Davis and MIT about establishing a remote study program for several fields. I’ll talk with Roman about engineering programs. Once we’re on Mars we will be the first graduate program offworld. We need to make it count.”

Alexander smiled. Everything about the mission was becoming more significant than just a first landing on Mars. The mission was big before, but now it was awe-inspiring. Alexander looked up to see Zeke coming down the Quill.

“Zeke, we need to talk.”