Mission Control has confirmed that the UK Isonaut mission will last at least another three weeks. Eggs are rationed, and it’s near impossible to get hold of flour and yeast. But at least people have stopped talking incessantly about toilet roll.

EVA Report

We are choosing to take more of our EVAs after our evening meal, when there are fewer Isonauts around.

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Bluebells in the evening

Food System Update

On Sol 24 we planned a longer EVA, a hike down to the local supply depot. During normal operations, it mainly supplies office workers with sandwiches. It doesn’t stock much we can use in the Earth-Hab, but it does have fizzy water. Mission Control has decided not to send bottled water in their supply runs (to save space in the delivery craft), but I like drinking fizzy water, so we went off to forage. We came back with a couple of pasties, which we had for dinner with baked beans. Isonaut Ryan also brought home a strawberry milkshake and some chocolate brioche and a can of All Day Breakfast (which, frankly, looks disgusting).

“Hunger Breaks All Day Breakfast Meal in a can is a unique, satisfying meal to enjoy with a minimum of fuss and maximum convenience. It tastes so good. It will be ready in 2-1/2 minutes and you’ll still have time to save the day. A tasty filler with baked beans, sausages, mushrooms, pork and egg nuggets, bacon.”

We are due to receive a delivery from Earth on Sol 28, so it’s just a case of waiting to see what Mission Control sends, and having a laugh at some of their appalling substitutions.

For breakfast, Isonaut Ryan has been alternating between fruit loaf from the Earth deliveries and homemade muesli flapjacks (granola bars). The last batch included chocolate honey, as I found an open jar in the back of one of the Hab cupboards.

On Sol 24 I made Beer Bread for a Ploughman’s lunch. The one and only time I have made beer bread previously, I used a beer bread mix. This time I found a recipe for classic beer bread, which turned out very nicely. I added a little dried rosemary; next time I think I will be more adventurous with the seasonings! While the oven was on, I found the time to try a small batch of morale-boosting lemon muffins. Ours were lemon and lime to make use of the open bottles of juice in the fridge. I thought they were a little underwhelming, but they went down well with Isonaut Ryan, so I let him eat the rest.

Beer bread

Sol 25 lunch was another Ploughman’s with more of the beer bread, and we had more bean feast for our evening meal. 

Today is a low calorie intake day. Isonaut Ryan has some tinned soup and will finish the beer bread for lunch; I will have my “brunch”. We’ll finish the bean feast this evening.

Mission Control has started broadcasting a daily cooking show for Isonauts. One of the presenters is Jack Monroe, who is absolutely the kind of person you want handling the cooking when you’re stuck on a quarantine planet with limited food supplies! I haven’t caught a broadcast yet, but hope to catch up today. 

Over the weekend I am planning on turning a can of stewed beef in gravy into her stewed steak ragú, with the help of some tinned lentils and tomatoes. We have fresh carrots and onions from the last delivery from Earth. I have also defrosted some rosemary pizza dough, which we like to turn into calzone.

Green-Hab update

Salmonberry flowers

This morning I have planted three sorrel plants that originally grew in the Hydroponicum into a trough in the Green-Hab. They’ve been adjusting to life in compost for a couple of weeks in pots, and seem to be doing well. I watered them in well, as there hasn’t been much rain for the past few weeks. Some is scheduled for the weekend, but it may only be light.

Astrobotany update

The VEG-PONDS-03 experiment (which uses a newly-developed passive nutrient delivery system) launched to the ISS on CRS 20 on 7 March 2020. The crew started the experiment on 25 March in the Veggie growing system. By 6 April there was concern that the seeds hadn’t germinated and the ground team were investigating possible causes. On 9 April the crew noted possible plant growth in at least two of the 12 modules. On 13 April they took some photos and added water as necessary, but there were no updates published on plant growth. The next scheduled crew inspection is Saturday 18 April 2020. Read more from NASA about VEG-PONDS and watering plants in space.

Entertainment and morale

Yesterday evening we watched The Great Mountain Sheep Gather on iPlayer for a change of pace. Isonaut Ryan has taken many long walks in the Lake District, so he enjoyed the scenery. I enjoyed the multi-coloured Herdwick flock. Neither of us really enjoyed the sheep-related poetry, and I didn’t make it to the end. Counting sheep made me too sleepy!