Event Log, International Mars Mission
Today marks an historic moment, as humanity is finally ready to sail the stars and plant our feet firmly on other worlds. This log will hopefully serve as an official record of humankind’s greatest journey, detailing the challenges we will face, our accomplishments, and our failures for future generations.
Our initial rocket launch is tomorrow, carrying only a handful of drones, command rovers, and minimal construction supplies. Due to the excessive costs of this project, much of our building material will need to be procured on site. We have been scanning several regions of the red planet for years now and have narrowed our options down to the most promising sectors, though some will undoubtedly prove more difficult to colonize than others.
Our rocket has landed on Mars, and initial construction has begun. To execute our various tasks I’ve been given a command console slightly different than the computer controls of previous simulations of this type of event. I’m able to bring up a Build Menu using Triangle, and then scroll through all major construction categories swiftly using L1 and R1 and then directional pads for each subcategory. It’s fluid and efficient enough, but less so than other solutions that seasoned commanders might be used to.
I’ve begun construction of a scanning tower so that I can more quickly survey surrounding areas for necessary materials. In order for this colony to survive and thrive, we will need to extract metal, concrete, water, polymers, and rare metals from the planet itself. We have a limited number of rockets on hand for resupply missions, with limited financial resources, and so success depends on our ability to become self-sustaining.
I’ve also immediately begun researching various technologies to aid in our endeavor. We have many talented scientists and engineers at Mission Control who work around the clock developing newer, better ways to do things, be it smarter housing solutions, enhanced fuel efficiency or even greatly increased longevity of our eventual colonists.
Managing all these different, complex systems and responsibilities, especially immediately upon landing, is quite a challenge. Were it not for previous experience in this field, I might find the learning curve too steep to overcome. Thankfully, with a little patience and hard work I was able to get our initial systems up and running. Solar panels and wind turbines for power; accumulators to store energy; concrete and water extractors, and established supply routes for my rovers to exploit surface mineral deposits and return them back to base.
We have officially colonized Mars. Our first 12 colonists, which we’ve taken to calling Founders, set foot inside their new homes today. In order to get to this point we needed to construct a bio-dome that is completely self-sufficient, including a an electrical grid to produce and store power, a water grid for water production and storage, and Moxies that generate usable oxygen from the surrounding atmosphere.
Given the uncharted territory we find ourselves exploring, we needed to ensure we had several different ways of achieving this milestone, allowing us to adapt to conditions on the ground as the need arose. We could have brought in pre-fabricated moisture vaporators to create a water farm, for example, but luckily we found a huge aquifer nearby that we can exploit. While the wind farm is proving up to the task of providing necessary power, we also brought in stirling generators to ensure a constant, and consistent, power supply.
We’ve learned, through trial and error (mostly error), that the fewer buildings, cables and random items we need to achieve our task, the better, as the environment of Mars is proving to be far harsher than we anticipated. Dust storms crop up regularly, wreaking havoc on any buildings outside our dome and requiring constant maintenance. Meteor strikes are frequent, and while they sometimes carry with them some useful metals or polymers, they mostly just destroy large swaths of cable or piping networks, forcing us to make repairs quickly before colonists freeze or suffocate. The threat of long-lasting meteor showers looms, ever present, on the horizon.
Life on Mars is definitely a challenge, but one that our Founders are handling with grace and fortitude. Our mission parameters required us to prove self sufficiency for no less than 10 consecutive sols. Now that we’ve done that, we have been authorized to bring additional colonists on site. This, of course, means additional power, water, oxygen and space requirements, so rather than rush more people into our habitat, I’ve instead opted for a resupply rocket with additional rovers and construction materials, including more pre-fabricated buildings such as fuel refineries that we do not yet have the ability to construct from scratch on Mars. We need to be careful, though, as supply rockets are incredibly expensive, each one taking a huge chunk of our initial 16 billion dollar funding. We have researched various technologies during our time here that have proven valuable to the folks back home, and through those discoveries we can receive additional funds, but doing so typically comes at the expense of more immediate research needs. It’s a fine balancing act, and so I’ve taken the liberty of constructing a research laboratory to speed up our progress.
Sitting next to the research lab is our infirmary. Buildings such as these, properly staffed, are vital to mission success, as they help mitigate the extraordinary pressure facing our Founders. How we prioritize construction within the domes can have drastically different effects on the comfort and happiness of our residents. We need to dedicate as much space as possible to creating long term sustainability, but the sanity of our colonists is a necessary consideration.
Of course it’s also important that we selected the right people. There were numerous applicants for the International Mars Mission, as we all know, and so we had to bring the right people based on their specialty, their age and work ability, and various other perks and flaws. It’s important that our farms are staffed by trained botanists, that our research lab is manned by qualified scientists, that our infirmary has actual doctors available to help the ill. Perhaps, once we’ve expanded our budding Martian empire, we can consider the creation of schools and universities to train people on site.
The last surviving Founder died of old age, today. Time works differently here on Mars. Things happen quicker than it seems they should, and at varying speeds controlled by my console. If necessary we can accelerate our perception of time by as much as 400%, though we’ve been advised it’s not always in our best interests to do so, particularly when multiple issues crop up at the same time. That all our Founders are now gone is odd, and bittersweet, but thankfully the last of them got to see the fruits of their labor.
We now have two fully functional, self sustaining domes that produce their own food, and even their own oxygen. We have constructed gigantic residential towers that climb high above our domes. We can now fabricate complex machine parts, required for many of our construction and repair needs, right on site. Polymer factories and metals extractors ensure we have a constant supply of these materials without the need for resupply from earth. We’ve located a rare metals deposit, but it is currently too far away from our location to be exploited.
Our water grid is being drained faster than anticipated. Had we installed water reclamation towers in each of our domes, we could have decreased the amount of needed water for each dome by 70%; instead, we opted for residential spires in those locations to improve colonist comfort, and so the creation of moisture farms eventually became necessary. We then installed manual shutoff valves for each of our water towers, so that we can close off and store those resources for emergency use. I can open or shut all valves of a similar type at once, if I so choose, or operate them individually based on need. This also applies to our generators, oxygen tanks, and most other equipment. It allows for easier maintenance, which is fortunate because our primary concern at this point is simply upkeep.
More buildings means more mechanical failures, requiring more repairs which means more rovers commanding more drones. I’ve taken to setting up additional drone hubs in each sector to facilitate this process, but the whole affair still requires a lot of time and attention. Unfortunately, our mechanisms for maintenance and repair are not as fluid as the ones we use for building. As our colony grows, it also becomes more densely populated with buildings, supply depots, pipes, cabling, rovers and drones, all of which need to be sifted through to get to the bits that need the most attention, and doing so can be a bit frustrating at times.
Our colonists have more or less settled into a routine at this point. The colony now includes 80 people, and each person has their own schedules, their own jobs, their own personal hobbies. My primary objective at this point is to keep them all happy and productive, as the ever increasing demands on our resources mean ever increasing demands on our personnel. At various points we’ve had to increase production at some of our factories, forcing people to work double shifts, or night shifts, which take an extreme psychological toll. Some of our people simply couldn’t take it anymore, and we’ve had a few suicides. Not only did that decrease morale, but once news of these incidents spread back home, colonist applications began to decrease. To remedy this we’ve installed several recreational areas, including an “open air” gym, gardens, fountains, playgrounds and even a casino. Not everyone has the same hobbies, and trying to keep everybody equally content is a difficult balancing act. I can closely monitor any of our residents, and now spend a considerable amount of time doing just that.
Morale has been steadily increasing lately, but today something truly unexpected happened – the appearance of mysterious, levitating cubes arranged in a completely unnatural matrix, in direct proximity to one of our domes. We have begun research on these cubes in an attempt to divine their origin and significance. We were warned, before leaving, that we would run into mysteries like this, and that they could eventually consume the bulk of our attention during our time on Mars. Perhaps future colonists will encounter different mysteries to uncover, depending on who they are or the choices they make.
Our best minds have been unable to verify the origin, meaning or even composition of these mysterious cubes, but we have discovered a way to destroy them. That immediately led to a split amongst the colonists about how to proceed. Some colonists want the cubes destroyed, while others believe we should transport them away from our habitat for study at a later date when we have more advanced technology. Still others believe that they are a gift from some unknown but ultimately benevolent supreme being, and that they should be brought inside the domes and openly worshipped. I’m not sure what to do.
Destroying the cubes could anger whoever, or whatever, sent them. Storing them could prove to be hazardous, even disastrous. Bringing them inside and allowing some kind of cult to form around them seems unthinkable, but I have to consider the wishes of my fellow colonists. If I mishandle this, and anger too many of them, it could spell doom for our great experiment. I do have security stations in each dome, staffed with personnel to keep the peace, but there’s no way to stem a full scale revolt.
I finally made the call to have the cubes destroyed. However, the cubes are now replicating at increasing speed. I can’t task all my drones to their destruction, as it will leave my infrastructure vulnerable to the elements. I’ve initiated immediate resupply from Earth requesting two additional rockets loaded with drones, drone hubs and an emergency stockpile of polymers and metals so that I can divert resources on the ground to addressing what may be a serious problem.
Mission Control informed me earlier this week that a large meteor shower will be raining down upon our region of Mars, starting this morning. I’ve rerouted all efforts towards preparing for the worst, as the storm is expected to last over 2 sols; several direct impacts are expected. I don’t know if we’ll make it through. I don’t know if it’s possible for humanity to really survive on Mars, but I know these last few days, trying to build a society from scratch on a hostile, alien world have been some of the most rewarding in recent memory. I’ve enjoyed the freedom to make my own decisions and mistakes, the challenge, the complexity, the attention to detail. It’s been one hell of a ride.