Episode Description

Alarms and sirens shock the Mars base in the middle of the night, warning of a potentially catastrophic Coronal Matter Ejection event. As the crew works frantically for thirty-two sleepless hours to brace for impact, one person knows it’s only a drill - Mission Commander Mithi Mabaya. Now, she’s reaching out to the Shifters with her side of the story. Now an official ISA podcast. The ISA is built by people like you! Tune in live every Tuesday 4:00 PM UTC to chat with Emma, ask her questions, participate in interactive exercises like this one, and maybe even interact with some of the astronauts currently on Mars! All through our official transmission channel: https://discord.com/invite/colonizemars

Hello, everyone! You are listening to the Red Shift - your connection to your piece of the sky. I'm your host, Emma Miller!

Hello, hello! How is everyone doing today? Hi, Kenjiiee. Hi, Emma. Hi, Jo-Jon. Welcome in, my friends! Hi, Galdwin, how's it going? Hello! [Emma laughs] “Special lifter is here…?” Special Shifter? I like this, I like this. Hi, Illa. Hi, Tronity. Hi, ShinyForce. Welcome in, my friends. Hey, Arvee. Hi Owalkip.

I hope you all have had a phenomenal week this past week. I have missed getting to hang out with you over the last couple of days and I'm super excited to share with you the note that was sent along this week. Hello, The Martian, how's it going? Hi, Andrius. Hi, Arvee. Welcome in.

So, this week we are pretty much going to jump right ahead to the astronaut letter. It's an interesting one this week and I think it's going to be… It's a pretty important one, I think, this week, just for the Mars base. This week is the final of our twelve astronauts. Fear not, we will get plenty more messages from our astronauts, but this is the last of the twelve that we haven't heard from yet.

So this week was from Mithi Mabaya and I'll let her introduce herself with her own words. I think you're going to find what she sent along to be very interesting and enlightening, maybe. She also sent me some information that we kind of purposed into an activity and, kind of, training for you all as well at the end of the episode. So make sure that you pay attention to what is in the contents of her letter because it will actually play a role into what the game is and will help you all to win, if you will. So make sure that you're paying attention and, honestly, we're going to just kind of hop right into that astronaut letter because, honestly, it is kind of something special and very interesting.

So let's hop right in and I think you'll understand why I'm a little bit more somber, maybe, this week. With that being said, we are of course going to be reading Mithi’s words in her own letter. So these are her words.

Mithi’s letter

“I am Mithi Mabaya, acting commander for the ISA at the Mars Base. You have heard me spoken about in the past weeks. It is my job to manage the priorities of our astronauts at the Mars base and the priorities of the ISA Mission Control (including choosing who should write to Emma Miller for the Red Shift!). I do what I can to keep everything running smoothly.

The more I can keep everyone happy, the better the team will perform. If people are upset by a decision, they retreat inward, they get angry and resentful. They start to fixate on what has upset them and it causes them to lose focus on the important tasks at hand. Keeping people happy means keeping them working as a team. This is always my goal here on Mars. 

The truth is, sometimes you can’t keep everyone happy, though. Sometimes you have a week like this one.

Last Wednesday I was contacted by Adan Luzuriga, Director of Mission Control. He was not very popular a few weeks back, if you remember. Soon you will understand why he, and I, are not very popular amongst the astronauts at the Base now. 

Adan informed me that in the upcoming week, the ISA would be running a coronal mass ejection drill at all of its interplanetary locations. This included Earth and Low Earth Orbit, Luna Base, the Mission 4 fleet in transit to Mars, and, of course, us here on Miss– Or, on Mars Base. 

A coronal mass ejection, CME for short, is an event that occurs when large amounts of plasma and magnetic field are expelled from the Sun’s corona. On Earth, protected by a strong magnetosphere, the effect of a CME is not life threatening, though it can disrupt communications and a bad one could cause severe damage to the electrical system. But without that protection, the sudden arrival of a burst of high-energy radiation can be catastrophic. Living organisms can be irradiated, causing sickness or death. Computer systems can be damaged or destroyed. And not just what you think of as fancy computing, but the switches and relays that keep oxygen lines open, or jet fuel - shut off. 

And so, on Luna Base? On Mission Four? On Mars? The impact of a large coronal matter ejection would be devastating.

In a CME event, we would have only a few hours to do all that needs to be done to ensure that the potential devastation is minimized. To be able to do that, we must have drills.

I asked Adan if I could inform my crew. If we could have a conversation leading up to the drill, we could go over best practices. We could discuss our plans. 

Adan said, “No.” “The drill must be done as if it were real,” he said. “It’s the only way to truly stress the system, to find out where our plans fail on contact with reality.” I told him I understood, but that he must understand that if we damaged the crew’s morale too much, we would lose more than we gained. He noted my comment for the official record and said the drill would take place, and that I alone would know that it was only a test. 

Those of us with a military background understand the need for a chain of command. Adan is Mission Control and I am the Mission Commander. I had input, but he gives the orders. My job is to execute them to the best of my ability. But when he gave the order… Perhaps I worry too much about the feelings of my crew, but the moment he decided to carry on with the test was the first time I felt in my heart the chance that the Mars Colony might fail.

Even I was not told when the drill would begin. While the others went about their tasks, I worked with one eye on the comms channels. Waiting. And waiting. And waiting.

Four days later I woke up in the middle of the night to a blaring alarm. All base terminals displayed an ISA-wide emergency alert, massive CME detected, due to hit Earth in 15 hours. All comms out from Earth would be dead from that time - along with pretty much anyone on the Moon caught outside a hardened bunker.

Between 30 and 31 hours, the CME would hit the Mission Four fleet. At 32 hours it would reach Mars. Period of high intensity yet to be determined, but could last anywhere from eight hours to five days.

I watched the missio– the message through once. By the time it started to repeat, there was chaos across the Mars Base comms channel. These are my notes on the next 32 hours.

First call: John Alvez.

He is calm in his growly John way. Methodical. Sometimes I think he is happinest– happiest when the worst finally DOES happen and he doesn’t have to keep guessing what it might be. He is John, always the one prepared for things to go wrong. 

A CME can be disastrous for anything that requires a flow of power. All our systems will need to be hardened. For some things, this is powering it down entirely. Others, there is a safe mode, a sleep mode. 

John says the first priority must be the nukes. “A burst of radiation hitting the C-and-C systems the wrong way could leave Mars Base nothing but a pretty glass crater,” he says, so he’ll take that job. It’s an exaggeration, but the point is sound.

He asks me to focus on the Ice Mining Rig. Without knowledge of the length of the CME, the rig has to be shut down. We spent weeks turning the ice-field into liquid water. If the rig is shut down, we risk a freeze event that could damage the rig or even break the drill-bit, in which case it might be weeks before we could get it operational again. I tell him we have to do what we must.

For the test to work, I can’t let the crew try to message Earth to confirm the CME, so I tell John that first I will disassemble the comms array and set up a skeleton version in the hardened bunker where we will wait out the CME. As soon as that is done, I promise to move on to the Ice Mining Rig. What I don’t say out loud is that doing it in this order will give the rig less time to freeze. 

The next meeting is with the botanists.

Hanzou and Patricia are moving about their work spaces like bees. Frantic. They discuss the best possible options for the plants. They have been ramping up food production in anticipation of the arrival of Mission Four, but it turns out we didn’t anticipate that when we built the bunker in the early days of Mission Two there isn’t nearly enough room. They can’t leave the excess in the greenhouses. They aren’t hardened against radiation and a CME of this intensity will do immense damage to the plants. Moreover, with the nukes and solar panels in shut-down mode, the base will be operating purely on battery power. Since the greenhouses were to be empty, there is no power budgeted to keep them warm. 

I can see the concern written on Patricia’s face. 

Hanzou suggests repurposing one of the sleeping pods for the overflow. The sleeping pods Have walls filled with water to shield somewhat against radiation, and the relatively small space will be far easier to keep warm than the big greenhouses. It isn’t perfect, but he believes it will be better. We patch John in and barter for power for the sleeping pods. By the speed with which he agrees, I can tell he is kicking himself for not anticipating the problem. Of all the people on the base, surely Patricia is the last one he wanted to let down.

But the energy required to keep the sleeping pod above freezing has to be taken from somewhere else, John warns us. It was always going to get cold in the bunker. Now it will be colder.

Patricia collects– begins to collect caches of seeds. She says she will take them with her to the bunker after they have moved the plants. When I say she can leave them in the sleeping pod, she shakes her head. If she sleeps with them, she says, her body will form another layer of shielding. “These seeds represent the future of the colony,” she says. “They are more important than the life of any single astronaut.”

Next I head out and find Korey, who is shutting down the rocket fuel processing systems. After, he says he will drain the lines, increase the pressure and, when the time comes, seal off the silos.

After he is done, here, I tell him, he must scramble to the launch pads and put all the rockets into standby mode. It is a huge task. We both know he won’t sleep in the twenty-eight hours that remain before he has to be in the bunker.

With a Korey smile, he jokes, “Good thing I had my daily coffee, huh?”

Onto the medical wing. 

Tetyana and Bernard have already moved critical medical supplies to the bunker. Bertram pulls me aside to say that between the C. Difficile and Ida’s scare, the stores of iodine and anti-radiation medication have run very low. It is imperative that no personnel get caught outside the bunker when the CME hits.

Bertram is particularly worried about Ida. After the radiation exposure and trauma her body went through when she was trapped in the sinkhole, she needs to ensure she is taking every precaution she can in a circumstance like this. I agree to find her and deliver his instructions.

I open a comms channel and tell Ida to get to the bunker right now - she’s in charge of prepping it, testing it for power, oxygen, pressure, and water.  

She says no. If you don’t have a military background, perhaps you don’t understand how shocking this is - especially over an open channel where others can hear. I tell her she doesn’t have a choice - I am her commanding officer. 

Then she yells, “In 26 hours, Gareth is going to die.”

The whole channel goes quiet. Gareth is Ida’s partner, a civil engineer outbound on Mission Four. If the CME were real, there’s every chance we could survive, but the odds for any ship caught in transit are much worse.

“I’m sorry,” Ida says. “But I can’t just… hide in the bunker and wait. If I think, I will go mad. I have to do something. Please, Mithi, give me something to do.”

There is a terrible tightness in my throat. I think it’s guilt.

I tell Ida to shut down the solar panels. There are so many of them, and they are delicate machines. It will be a race against time, gunning the buggy from array to array, powering them down, folding them up and placing safety coverings over them. 

As bad as I feel, I feel worse when she says “Thank you.” She is already running for the garage when she cuts her comms.

Alex is shutting down Vulcan, emptying the 3D printers, turning off the forge and the lathes, dropping the oxygen levels in case of fire. His next task was supposed to be deflating the habs, but instead I tell him to prep the bunker for us.

“Of course, Commander,” he says. 

He snaps a quick salute and keeps working. He doesn’t know that all of this is a lie.

When we started, it was just the four of us - me and John and Alex and Aurore. I love all my crew, but the first four, we know each other better than wives and husbands, better than twins. I trust Alex more than I trust myself. It kills me to lie to him.

Hours passed– pass. Everyone is working. Nobody sleeps. There is too much work, more than we can do in our thirty-two hours, and it is careful work. Precise. The sort of thing you shouldn’t do when you are cold and haven’t slept and you are thinking of friends on the Moon or on their way to Mars who might be dead in an hour or two. It is hard to make measurements precise when your eyes fill with tears.

My crew is magnificent. Watching them work I have never been more proud. And for the first time, I– I wonder if this will be the end of my time as Mission Commander. 

Aurore radios from the laboratory in the hab to tell me that the last of her measurements has been taken. She tells me she is beginning to process– Or, the process of transporting sensitive equipment to the bunker for safekeeping.

John has one eye on the nukes and the other on Maksym, who has working to shut down and harden the HVAC system, oxygen, and water– HVAC, oxygen, and water systems for the hab. They are taking special care to drain the lines and harden our biofilters.

Maksym tells me that he will be collecting a perchlorate bacteria “starter” to bring to the bunker for safekeeping. With that bacteria in a shielded box in the hab, if we lose our biofilter, we will be able to replace it. This will allow us to process perchlorates out of the– our water - it is truly the difference between life and death in the aftermath of a CM– CME.

John says, “Have you shut down the Ice Mining Rig?” I tell him I’m on my way. 

I’m an engineer by trade and I know the rig well, but normally you have two people there to set up or shut down. It goes slower than I’d hoped. When I finally get to the bunker, Korey is just behind me. There are twelve minutes left before the CME is due to hit Mars. I do a quick head count. Everyone is inside.

Except for Ida.

John asks me to step back outside. I nod like a commanding officer, but inside I feel like a child being pulled aside by a parent. I prepare to be scolded.

He asks why I was so late shutting down the Ice Mining Rig. I said I took a calculated risk, hoping to minimize the chance of a hard freeze that might wreck the bit.

“You aren’t one to gamble,” John comments. He is right. He knows me..

John looks at me for a moment. Then he says, “Trust, you know, it’s a piece of equipment. But if you break it, that’s not something you can fix with a soldering iron.”

I don’t know what to say. I can’t bear to lie to him. I’m not allowed to tell the truth.

John looks at me. After four years together on Mars, I think he can read me like a blueprint. “Oh,” he says. “It’s like that. Adan said? - No, wait. Don’t tell me. I understand.” He jerked a thumb at the bunker. “But in there? If this was just a drill, we’re going to have a problem.”

“I know.”

We are down to the wire now. At some point, the decision has to be made to stop whatever is being done, wherever we are. That means that not everything that would need to be done is done. But eleven of the twelve of us are in the bunker. It is cold, it is dark, but we are here and safe. I think the ISA would rather lose gear than our astronauts.

Well, everything is here except Ida. I say I will go out and check for her. There are eight minutes left in the drill. Eight minutes until anyone left outside will die. That’s what they think, anyway. Because I have lied to them.

I open a channel to Ida’s direct comms. I can feel a lump in my throat, my stomach, my heart.

There is no answer. I give it another thirty seconds before I break. I tell her she needs to get to the bunker, but that this is a drill. Everyone will be safe, but she needs to be here.

I can hear the hurt in her voice when it comes through the comm channel, “A drill?” Then, seconds later, louder and more filled with fire, “A drill?!”

She is beside herself with anger. I ask her to come back to the bunker regardless. This can be handled later. We can talk about this later. Her silence is almost worse than her yelling.

We all sit quietly through the countdown. Then I stand up in front of them and I say, “I have some… good news.”

Adan wanted us to stay in the bunker for twenty-two hours to simulate a full CME event.

I said no.

I didn’t do it on an open channel, but I disobeyed a direct command. He told me to do what I was told and I said that as Mission Commander it was my call what happened on the ground, and if he wanted to replace me, he was very welcome to come the 60 million klicks out to Mars and take my badge. I told him there was not a single person on the base who would agree to enforce his command. (This was also a lie. Aurore would have done it, but Adan doesn’t know her like I do.)

Adan told me he was putting a demerit in my file and I said “Yes, sir,” and got off the line.

We spent the next two days getting everything back to the way it was before. No lasting damage, just some disruption in our crops and our experiments. Our equipment boots back up. Everyone gets back to working again.

Ida has not spoken to me since. With others, the broken trust is not so obvious, but it is there. I can feel it in the way Patricia will not meet my eyes. She has been talking to Maksym, the terraformer, but they stop if I enter the room.

When you hear a fire alarm, your immediate thought is to get out. You grab what is within arm’s reach, maybe, but then you get out of the building. Then, you look back and think of all that you left behind. When you know the alarm is a drill, you get a chance to look at the situation without panic, without fear - but that also keeps it from feeling real.

I understand why the ISA didn’t want me to tell the others why this was a drill. It might not be, next time.

But people were hurt.

This is a mission and I am its commander. It is my job to act out the decisions made by the mission leadership back on Earth. But, they do not have to look into the faces of the people here on Mars.

We are more than just astronauts with responsibilities up here. We are human beings. We have things we fear. People we love.

For some of us, the journey to Mars is a great adventure, a story to tell our children and grandchildren when we come back home.

But for others, like Patricia and Maksym? For them, there is no path that leads back to Earth. The people they love, the dreams they have, the future they mean to build: it’s all here, on Mars.

They felt that future nearly slip out of their grasp recklessly this past week and that was my doing. I put them through that.

This is my job - and, the drill was successful. We learned what we needed to from the drill. We will be prepared for next time. The ISA will call this a success, so I must as well. But Ida, if you are listening, Patricia, Maksym, Hanzou, all of you: I believe I made the best call I could, but I am sorry - so sorry - to have caused you pain.

***

And that is the message from Mithi for this week…

Yeah, that's the message for Mithi this week.

I… I was trying to think of what exactly to say about it before the show, and I've been… struggling to figure out exactly how to, um, how to put the words together. So I think I'll come back to this, or, to my thoughts at the end of our note today, after our activity, after our sponsor message, after our weather.

But I guess what I will say is - I also got the message about the CME. I'm going to take the benefit of a few minutes to kind of think of my thoughts on… on that.

So with that, we're going to pop over to our sponsorship message and our weather. And yes, Ida is okay. Ida… is fine. At least, she is physically fine.

Alright, with that, we're going to hop over to our sponsorship message and our weather.

So… yes. I'll chat with you guys shortly.

Commercial break

On Earth, we are always looking forward to the next advancement in our vehicles and excited to see what features the new models have. Now, Mars doesn’t have to be any different. At the New Vehicle Lab located in Tokyo, Japan, some of the ISA’s most brilliant minds are developing the newest evolution of vehicles to be used by our astronauts up on Mars. Whether it be making them safer, more durable, or more efficient, our scientists are sure to pave the way for the next generation of interplanetary transit.

The New Vehicle Lab is best known for their groundbreaking design of the Mars Rover which provides unparalleled safety features along with state of the art technology to ensure that our ISA astronauts on Mars are able to do their work with ease - all while looking cool in the most high-tech buggie ever to be designed for off planet use.

If you have ever wanted to become a part of the team that is helping to design some of the most futuristic transports that will carry or support the astronauts at the Mars base, or if you simply have a passion for helping to shape the future of vehicles, the New Vehicle Lab is the place for you!

Weather report

And now - for the weather.

So I actually have two weather reports for you this week. I have what was initially sent to me, which was a message from one of the astronauts - and I'll leave it to you all to make your guess as to who wrote it - and then I have one that was taken later in the week that is a little bit more accurate. So first I will read you the more accurate reading.

So temperatures are more moderate with highs of -10 degrees Celsius to lows of -100 degrees Celsius.

Pressure is 740 Pascal with red– relatively calm winds from only a few meters per second to about 15 meters/second, which is approximately 10-55 kilometers/hour, still mainly southwards.

Atmospheric opacity is low at about 0.4.

And now the message that was sent by the astronaut for our weather report, which I just feel is worth sharing. And these are their words, not mine.

“Temperatures ranging from highs of cold to lows of damn cold. And if you wanted better pressure or better ratings, you shouldn't have made us take down the weather station.

Air pressure is still just above vacuum and the wind seems a little less godawful than usual.

For a wonder, we still have an atmospheric opacity reading which is down to 0.4.

So there you go. Good that something is clear around here.”

***

Well, with that, we are going to hop into our activity. I hope you enjoyed the weather reports. Thank you for letting me share with you both.

So - I like that GIF, MaDAleN - so the activity that was created this week - like I mentioned, it was kind of a partnership of the ISA, me and Mithi - is basically kind of a simulation of what we as Shifters would do if we were on the planet and were given a notice about… a notice about a CME.

So, the way that it is going to work, I’m going to– We're going to play five rounds and in each round I'm going to give you a list of things on the planet that you have to prioritize what you're going to save. So in your… you're going to see a posted image, and the image is going to have emotes underneath it, so it'll be one, two and three, and you have to pick which one, as a group, you're going to prioritize. In each round there is a low point value item, so something that you don't necessarily have to save, there is a mid-point level item that is something that you probably should save, and then there is a high point level item that is going to be something that you absolutely have to save. It is imperative that you save it. You won't necessarily know that. And if you don't save the item that is a ‘you have to save this’, that's okay. The goal for us in this activity is to simply get enough points to be deemed having saved enough.

So you won't know the point value until after the four, or - the five rounds. I'm going to be tallying them up here and then I'll let you know if you guys have passed the drill. So I hope you were paying attention to the activity, or - to the letter, because of course, the letter, probably, will have given you some information in terms of what you should save and what you shouldn't. And then afterwards, I'm going to go back and I'm going to just let you know, kind of like, why certain things were worth more if you didn't end up saving them. Or if you do save them, I'll let you know why it's a good thing that you did. Hopefully that makes sense and let's do it!

I also have, after this main portion of the game, I actually have some bonus questions as well that you guys will be allowed to look up if you have a search engine that you like using, but we'll get to those in a little bit, and those will be bonus winners for those two bonus questions at the end. So we're going to work together first and then our bonus questions at the end.

With that, we're going to start with our round one. And round one is going to have three options, and you're going to have to pick which of the three options you are going to prioritize saving.

So the first round will be… will be: rovers, rockets, and solar panels. Rovers, rockets and solar panels, and we should have a picture here shortly. “Save the bears,” for sure. Save the bears. That's a good call. Definitely want to save the bears here.

Alright, perfect. So there they are. So: rollers– rovers, rockets, solar panels. So is it one, two, or three? And we should have emotes, hopefully, to click…

Perfect. Alright.

So if you look underneath the picture now, it's going to have one, two and three, so go ahead and prioritize which of those three things you're going to want to prioritize first. I'll give you another, like, 30 or so seconds.

That was a very immediate decision for three, which is solar panels. Alright, I'm going to go ahead and call it at that. You guys all have clicked solar panels, so we're going to go with solar panels.

Alright, so that's a good call. I'm just going to tell you right now - solar panels are the highest point rank for this round. It is our three point… our three point object. The event of a CME on solar panels would be potentially catastrophic.

The CME could fry the solar panels, which would render them useless. Packing these up and storing them for safekeeping away from the harmful CME is an incredibly high priority for.. For our… for our Mars base rockets. Good thing you mentioned that as well, Galdwin.

Rockets would have been two points. As these are the only ticket off the planet if need be, they should be prioritized to some extent, basically ensuring that they're in standby mode and don't have any, like, active power going to them as it could react poorly. Making sure that they're just powered down.

So that's our two point. And of course, rovers are fairly okay. They're built to withstand and they're important to just make sure that they're powered down because anything with power could be disrupted, but you guys picked the highest point level, so you currently have three points. You need to get to eleven in order to win, so you're at three.

Our next round - round number two. Round number two… is… 3D printers, fuel generators, and fission reactors.

It's going to be 3D printers, fuel generators, and fission reactors.

Alright, so what do we think? Do we feel like 3D printers, fuel generators, or fission reactors? That is a good question, actually, Spoons.

Alright, what are we thinking? It looks like two is our highest one right now… Two is the highest. Let's see, I'll give you another second. Wen Wen, if I could give you a point just for using that GIF, I– I would.

“Can you run fuel generators without energy?” That's a good question. It's up to you guys to decide what you want to prioritize - 3D printers, fuel generators, or fission reactors.

Alright, we're going to go ahead and call it. It looks like our highest one was two for fuel generators and our second highest was– was three for fission reactors.

So fuel generators will get you two point— two points, so you're at five points currently. Fuel generators are actually not the highest priority item in this list. The major concern with these is just to make sure that they're turned off in case that the pressure shifts around them. The fuel could, of course, lead to a plethora of issues if there was a fire or any kind of shift in pressure on the planet, so a shutdown does need to take place and clearing out the lines of fuel going in and out of the generator.

That being said, our fission reactors are incredibly important and also incredibly dangerous to be left unattended. That would have been a four-point item for this round. In an electromagnetic magnetic storm caused by a CME, leaving these on and unprotected would quite literally be devastating. These have to be powered down and protected, and it will take a very long time to do so and a long time to get them brought back up. But it is, in fact, the most important thing in this list. That's okay, you guys are totally fine. You're still on track. You have five points out of the needed eleven.

And 3D printers are basically a very low priority. That would have been a one point item. Putting them into standby mode is all you really need to do. Disconnect them from power, all you really need.

Perfect! With that, we're going to head to round three. Round three. So round three is going to be: perchlorate starter bacteria, food stores and weather outposts. So number one is perchlorate starter bacteria, number two is food stores and number three is weather outposts.

Which one of these three things do we feel like will be the most important for us to keep control of? Number one is perchlorate starter bacteria, two is food stores and three is weather outposts. Perfect. What are we thinking? Perchlorate starter bacteria, food stores, weather outposts… Hm… Hmm…

Oh, this one's very even! I'll give you a little bit of a hint on this one. This one was mentioned in the letter itself.

We are almost exactly tied. Wow. Alright, I'm going to give you another 30 or so seconds to make your decision. This one is,,, pretty perfectly even.

Now here's the only thing. If they're even the entire way, it's not going to… it’s not going to count., because if you as a group can't make a decision of what is the priority, then nothing gets done.

Alright, I'm going to give you ten more seconds…

Alright, with that, we're going to call it. Your answer is two, which is food stores. So, here's the thing. The food stores on the planet - the majority of your food stores, if it's not like live plant life, which is separate and would be stored in our greenhouses - are not necessarily something that you are going to really need to worry about. Most food can be frozen. You don't really have to prioritize it in the case of a CME. So unfortunately, this one actually is a bit of a red herring and actually is worth only one point because the most important thing for you to have saved in this particular one is actually that perchlorate starter bacteria.

So that perchlorate starter bacteria is the bacteria that… that helps to process perchlorates out of the water supply on the planet. Without that, if that was to die - and it is a bacteria that will be killed by, or would be killed by the radiation - it will be irradiated. You would not be able to… You would not be able to process water if that was not there anymore. So! It's okay! It's learning! But food stories really are not actually a priority in this situation because the majority of them can be frozen and won't be impacted by– by the weather itself.

Alright, and then weather outposts would have been a two point option. The primary focus here is, of course, to power them down and protect them. The weather outpost going down does render it difficult to foresee impacts of the weather coming up, so ensuring that the CME doesn't cause any potential power surges on your weather is, is important.

That one was a tricky one. It was a tricky one. And I like where you guys’ heads are at. I think that's an important… It's a hard one, right? It's hard to prioritize what you would save because everything seems very important.

Alright, we're going to move on to round number four. Round number four. Round four is going to be number one - greenhouse plants, number two - seeds from the seed bank, and number three - medicines from the Med Bay.

What would we save at this point? Greenhouse plants, seeds from the seed bank, medicines from the Med Bay.

What are we thinking? What are we thinking? I like that some of you are having a conversation in the chat too, because I think that that helps to, you know, come to an agreement. “I just don't know anymore,” I understand [Emma laughs]

Alright, let's see. It looks like two is pulling ahead, looks like two is pulling ahead, though one is very close behind…

What are we thinking? Alright, I'm going to give you about 30 more seconds to make your decision. It does look like two is still in the lead…

My recommendation, Galdwin, is to think in the long run. The long run.

Alright, with that, we're going to call it at two. So two is actually our highest– our highest point value for this round, so congratulations. You guys got your three points, which is great.

So you are currently at… So, the greenhouse plants would be, of course, killed by a CME if they weren't supplied, or weren't saved. They would absolutely be irradiated. So that, you know, that is obviously a bad thing. But seeds can be, or - plants can be reproduced with seeds. Protecting them does prevent them, of course, dying in the impact of a CME, but they can be grown again.

This was a tough one. This was an intentional tough one. Believe me, I tried to make this hard. Seeds from the seed bank - the CME will, of course, render all the seeds collected unusable, so protecting them from the effects will help to ensure the ability to have plant life on the planet in the future. And we're not just talking about food-bearing plants. We're talking about a large variety of seeds that have been brought from Earth in order to ensure that there is a future for the colony on Mars. So those seeds are, are incredibly important for the long run of the planet. And, of course, they would be irradiated and inviable if they were left in the CME without protection.

And finally, you have medicines from Med Bay, which would have been two points. Certain medications cannot be exposed to certain levels of past freezing temperatures, which will be the main concern with medication. Getting that medication to a location with some regulation of electricity and heat while the main Med Bay is shut down is an important task, but the primary issue is that– And then anything that has, like, any kind of, like, good bacterias and it could also be impacted. So there are important things that should be brought from the medications in Med Bay, but in terms of prioritizing in this round, you have chosen the right one.

Alright, so that puts you all currently at nine points. You are at nine points.

We are stepping into our final round… There are two options in this final round that will have you win. There is one that will make it so that you don't win. So it's important that you guess correctly, or you choose correctly.

Your three options are: drones, fuel plant and ice mining rig. One, two or three. Your passing score is eleven and you are at nine currently. So: drones, fuel plant or ice mining rig.

I think you guys got this. I have faith in you. It already looks like one of them has already pulled ahead… And we will see, we will see.

Alright, I'm going to give you another 30 seconds because one has already very much pulled ahead. Let's see, let's see. [Emma laughs] Thunder, I like that– that GIF. That’s very silly.

Alright, ten more seconds. Get your final guesses in…

Alright. Ice mining rig is what you have chosen, which is your number three. Ice mining rig is, in fact, the– the biggest point value that you guys have gotten so far. That one is a four.

It is a huge piece of equipment with a built in reactor. If the reactor goes, the rig will freeze and will be incapable of continuing to mine or heat up ice to water, and that is literally your water source for… for the base. So you absolutely, 100%, need the ice mining rig to be operational and to ensure that it is prioritized in the list of these three things.

So ice mining rig, like we kind of described, or - what Midi described and what I've read, basically needs to be taken down very carefully so that it doesn't freeze the equipment but does, like, slow down to a halt, because what the ice mining rig allows us to do is to mine fresh water from the planet, or - mine water from the planet, which then, of course, becomes water for the astronauts. So that's hugely important!

The next highest point value would have been the fuel plant, which is two points. Much like the fuel generators, this also needs to be powered down and put into safe standby mode. Basically just checking this for leaks in the lines and emptying the lines is incredibly important, but for the most part, it's not as important as the ice mining rig.

And finally the drones, which would have been one point. It's a simple power down and store to basically just prevent any internal issues, so that one's not a huge deal.

But with that, with that final point value, you all have exceeded the needed threshold to win. You ended up with 13 points, which is fantastic! So you all have won, so congratulations! You did a great job!

The goal of the game was not necessarily for you to pick right every single round, but was for you to all work together to prioritize what needed to get prioritized for the best possible outcome. So you all did a really great job and hopefully learned a little bit about what would happen for our astronauts on Mars in the case of a CME, and just how hard it is to… just how hard it is to make these kinds of decisions.

We're going to move on to the second part of the activity, which is- I have two questions for– for you all that are going to be– I'm basically going to ask them both and then I'm going to have whoever can give me a response of, like, what the answer is in the chat is going to get… is going to get the point. And that will be a special point, or, a gift from Stephanie.

So! With that being said, the first question for you all is: what would be the biggest… What would happen in a CME event on Earth and what would you really want to focus on doing? There's one… particular focus that you would want to make– If you were on Earth during a CME.

And the second question is what was the Carrington Event? Carrington Event, spelled C-A-R-R-I-N-G-T-O-N. Carrington Event.

What is your– So, what is your primary– You, specifically, if there was a CME event on Earth, what would be your primary focus? And then what would be… What is the Carrington Event?

Zadigrim, will you add a little bit to it? What happened during the Carrington Event? You are correct. Well, we'll give it to you. I'm going to give you the point for sure.

You and Janoots said it at  exactly the same time. Maybe we give you and Janoots both the point.

Alright. And then the… So, only one of you have given me a… So the closest for what you would do on Earth during a CME is… I'm going to give it to Tronity for “shutting down everything electric.” So those are going to be our answers.

So to give you a little bit of information on both– Congratulations on your extra points, my friends. Well, well done.

So, what you would do, what your primary responsibility would be in the case of a CME on Earth, is you would basically want to unplug everything electric. You want to completely disconnect from the grid, turn everything off, anything that is electric you want to remove from being on the grid. So Tronity is correct with that. So we're going to go ahead and do.. We're going to give that to you.

I'm also going to add Alecschmalek into that list of three because I actually think that goes into the majority of what the Carrington Event truly was.

So what the Carrington Event was, it was more than just the large solar storm that happened, and did happen in 1859. Basically what happened during the Carrington Event was that it impacted a large amount of the world's technology at the time.

So basically what happened was telegraph systems all over the world failed. In some case giving, like, large electric shocks. Basically it sent, like, electric currents through the telegraph system. Telegraph pylons started to have sparks. Some of them were able to send messages, but a lot of them couldn't. Basically, the electric storm, like, fried all power. So that is what… that is what the entire– the entirety of the Carrington Event was. So with that, Janoots, Zadigrim, Aleschmalek, and then Troity were the ones who are going to get our special point for this week, for being prepared and for knowing my fun facts! So well done, well done!

And with that, that concludes our activity for the week. I am really glad that you all know and now you are all hopefully prepared in the case that there is a CME event on Earth. That would be… Well, luckily, we are all pretty well protected… pretty well protected from the mass of what, you know, what devastation it could be. But it could, i -  you know, if things don't get turned off, if the electricity isn't powered down worldwide - it could cause, you know, large electrical outages, huge electrical outages, and explosions in breakers. So it's important to be prepared. It's important for us, even though we are more or less protected, to be aware and be ready.

Which I guess leads me to my thought from… though from before. So, like I mentioned, I also got that CME alert. An alarm went off on my phone. It instructed me to look at the official ISA communications channel. It was, like, one of those, like, blaring weather alerts when there's like a flash flood or a tornado.

A few months ago, it would have been like a once in a lifetime event, right? Like, “Oh, I'm going to live through a CME!” As a space nerd, that is a wild thing to imagine, living through. It's like something out of a sci-fi novel. No one on Earth has experienced a CME since, I mean, decades. Decades, you know? So… It was really before we had any kind of advanced communication devices, let alone people on the Moon and on Mars. Would have been something to, like, you know, tell the grandkids about one day, right?

Well, like now, the other day when I got that message, I honestly don't know that I've ever felt more hopeless and… Or, not hopeless, but helpless in my entire life. I– I just couldn't stop looking up at the sky where Luna Base could be, where Mars Base could be, thinking about the astronauts on the ship on their way to Mars…

I was fine. I would turn things off, but what would happen to them? And I knew very quickly that it was a drill. I mean, they didn't trick the entirety of Earth into thinking that it was a real CME event. I knew quickly, but in those first few moments, when I had to really think about it, I just felt so helpless.

These astronauts aren't just names anymore, right? They're– They’re people I've spoken to, people you all have spoken to. They’re friends of me, of Emma's. They're… They’re real. To think I had, like, no idea what could have happened to them if that happened, that I couldn't ever speak to them again… I don't know. It gets me a bit worked up thinking about it even now.

I will say this, it was a hard week for me. A hard week to think about it. I don't know, it was– I'm glad that I got to share with you all this message from Mithi, because I think maybe you guys can share with me that feeling.

You all know the astronauts now. You know who they are. It's very likely that you're going to start meeting some of the astronauts on the ship very, very soon, so I… They're not just names, they're people.

So, I guess the last thing that I really have to say is this - I'm really grateful for all of you. I appreciate you all and I appreciate that you all let me share the stories of these amazing people at the Mars Base with all of you.

Thanks for being Shifters alongside with me. And I'm really glad that we get to share this experience together.

With that being said, stay safe, and I will chat with you all next week.

Other Episodes

Blueprints
Episode
18

Blueprints

Mission 4 arrival is getting closer, and with it a group of 32 new astronauts. Gareth Murphy is one of them - a Civil Engineer Shifters have heard about before. Gareth writes to Emma and shares some blueprints for the new buildings soon to appear at the Mars Base. Following that, the Shifters get to try their hand at an Emma-original exercise in drilling for ice on the Red Planet. Now an official ISA podcast. The ISA is built by people like you! Tune in live every Tuesday 4:00 PM UTC to chat with Emma, ask her questions, participate in interactive exercises like this one, and maybe even interact with some of the astronauts currently on Mars! All through our official transmission channel: https://discord.com/invite/colonizemars

Landing on Mars
Episode
17

Landing on Mars

In preparation for the oncoming Mission 4 arrival, Emma teams up with the Mars Base and ISA Mission Control to tell Shifters a little bit about orbital dynamics of an Earth-to-Mars flight and puts them in the position of Flight Control with an ISA-approved, scientifically accurate rocket landing simulator. Now an official ISA podcast. The ISA is built by people like you! Tune in live every Tuesday 4:00 PM UTC to chat with Emma, ask her questions, participate in interactive exercises like this one, and maybe even interact with some of the astronauts currently on Mars! All through our official transmission channel: https://discord.com/invite/colonizemars

Meet the Astronauts (Part 2)
Episode
16

Meet the Astronauts (Part 2)

With six of the twelve Mars Base astronauts introduced last week, Emma jumps right into telling the Shifters about the remaining crew members – their history with the ISA, their personal lives, passions, and hobbies. She also gives the Red Shift listeners a chance to learn a little bit more about each other, with Two Truths and a Lie - Shifter Edition! Now an official ISA podcast. The ISA is built by people like you! Tune in live every Tuesday 4:00 PM UTC to chat with Emma, ask her questions, participate in interactive exercises like this one, and maybe even interact with some of the astronauts currently on Mars! All through our official transmission channel: https://discord.com/invite/colonizemars

Meet the Astronaut (Part 1)
Episode
15

Meet the Astronaut (Part 1)

In this very special episode, the Shifters get to know the first half of the current crew of the Mars base and play a game of Two Truths and a Lie with them, learning about everything from their favorite pastimes, to stories from their time at the ISA training facilities, to the art of surfing the sand dunes of the Red Planet. Now an official ISA podcast. The ISA is built by people like you! Tune in live every Tuesday 4:00 PM UTC to chat with Emma, ask her questions, participate in interactive exercises like this one, and maybe even interact with some of the astronauts currently on Mars! All through our official transmission channel: https://discord.com/invite/colonizemars

The Drill
Episode
14

The Drill

Alarms and sirens shock the Mars base in the middle of the night, warning of a potentially catastrophic Coronal Matter Ejection event. As the crew works frantically for thirty-two sleepless hours to brace for impact, one person knows it’s only a drill - Mission Commander Mithi Mabaya. Now, she’s reaching out to the Shifters with her side of the story. Now an official ISA podcast. The ISA is built by people like you! Tune in live every Tuesday 4:00 PM UTC to chat with Emma, ask her questions, participate in interactive exercises like this one, and maybe even interact with some of the astronauts currently on Mars! All through our official transmission channel: https://discord.com/invite/colonizemars

The Magpie
Episode
13

The Magpie

What can the Martian fire opal be used for? Scientist and science fiction enthusiast Emi Serizawa asks her fellow astronauts for their ideas and theories, some more serious than others. The Shifters join in, asked by Emi to come up with ways to incorporate earthly everyday objects into Mars colony life. Now an official ISA podcast. The ISA is built by people like you! Tune in live every Tuesday 4:00 PM UTC to chat with Emma, ask her questions, participate in interactive exercises like this one, and maybe even interact with some of the astronauts currently on Mars! All through our official transmission channel: https://discord.com/invite/colonizemars

Fire Opal
Episode
12

Fire Opal

Last week, Maksym’s mistake put Korey’s life in serious danger. Now, the scientist contacts Emma to talk about the discovery - a rare Mars opal - that caused him to lose focus on the task. At the same time, he challenges Korey to make a scientifically-focused game for the Shifters. Now an official ISA podcast. The ISA is built by people like you! Tune in live every Tuesday 4:00 PM UTC to chat with Emma, ask her questions, participate in interactive exercises like this one, and maybe even interact with some of the astronauts currently on Mars! All through our official transmission channel: https://discord.com/invite/colonizemars

Two Man Job
Episode
11

Two Man Job

Although Mars Base has now recovered from their C. difficile infection, last week left things sour between two of the twelve - Korey and Maksym. With Ida still indisposed after her close encounter with death, Mission 3 Engineer Korey Leonard is sent out on a fuel tank maintenance mission and challenges his teammate to create a game for the Shifters to repay him for a near-fatal mistake. Now an official ISA podcast. The ISA is built by people like you! Tune in live every Tuesday 4:00 PM UTC to chat with Emma, ask her questions, participate in interactive exercises like this one, and maybe even interact with some of the astronauts currently on Mars! All through our official transmission channel: https://discord.com/invite/colonizemars

Too Many Side Quests!
Episode
10

Too Many Side Quests!

Managing a Mars Base is difficult on the best of days. With a C. difficile outbreak knocking out almost the entirety of the ISA crew, botanist Hanzou Mori has to single-handedly make sure operations are running smoothly. His journal chronicles a frantic week with the weight of the Red Planet on his shoulders. The ISA is built by people like you! Tune in live every Tuesday 4:00 PM UTC to chat with Emma, ask her questions, participate in interactive exercises like this one, and maybe even interact with some of the astronauts currently on Mars! All through our official transmission channel: https://discord.com/invite/colonizemars

Back From The Dead
Episode
9

Back From The Dead

Ida is recovering back at the Mars Base, but there may be more trouble brewing for the astronauts yet… Instead of a letter, ISA Doctor Tetyana Zelenko sent in a record of Ida’s recovery, including some troubling symptoms for her and the rest of the crew. Along with the notes, Emma also received a game created by Tetyana and John Alves themselves to show the Shifters just how precarious living on the Red Planet can be. Now an official ISA podcast. The ISA is built by people like you! Tune in live every Tuesday 4:00 PM UTC to chat with Emma, ask her questions, participate in interactive exercises, and maybe even interact with some of the astronauts currently on Mars! All through our official transmission channel: https://discord.com/invite/colonizemars

Rover 1
Episode
8

Rover 1

With this week’s astronaut letter from Mission Three Engineer Ida Serafin, the mystery of the broken glass has, at last, concluded. To wind down following the revelations, Emma invites Shifters to a party game based on ISA’s brand-new resource-scouting prototype. The broadcast ends suddenly as they all receive news of a life-threatening emergency on Mars. Now an official ISA podcast. The ISA is built by people like you! Tune in live every Tuesday 4:00 PM UTC to chat with Emma, ask her questions, participate in interactive exercises like this one, and maybe even interact with some of the astronauts currently on Mars! All through our official transmission channel: https://discord.com/invite/colonizemars

What We Bring to Mars
Episode
7

What We Bring to Mars

As Emma and the Shifters decide what they would take with them to the Mars base, Mission Three doctor Bertram Ruf updates us on Alex’s health after his suit puncture, and highlights the difficulties of practicing medicine on the Red Planet. Now an official ISA podcast. The ISA is built by people like you! Tune in live every Tuesday 4:00 PM UTC to chat with Emma, ask her questions, participate in interactive exercises like this one, and maybe even interact with some of the astronauts currently on Mars! All through our official transmission channel: https://discord.com/invite/colonizemars

Is There Life on Mars?
Episode
6

Is There Life on Mars?

No-nonsense Mission Two Scientist Aurore Duval reaches out to Emma to counter Alex’s claims of extraterrestrial intelligence. Her letter takes Shifters on a dangerous mission beneath the surface of Mars as they explore a lava tube cave in the search of life on the Red Planet. Now an official ISA podcast. The ISA is built by people like you! Tune in live every Tuesday 4:00 PM UTC to chat with Emma, ask her questions, participate in interactive exercises like this one, and maybe even interact with some of the astronauts currently on Mars! All through our official transmission channel: https://discord.com/invite/colonizemars

Xenoscope
Episode
5

Xenoscope

As the dust storm on Mars finally blew itself out, Emma was able to chat with one of the “First Four” Mars astronauts - Alexandr Titov. Together, they created an interactive quiz for the Shifters, all about the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. Now an official ISA podcast. The ISA is built by people like you! Tune in live every Tuesday 4:00 PM UTC to chat with Emma, ask her questions, participate in interactive exercises like this one, and maybe even interact with some of the astronauts currently on Mars! All through our official transmission channel: https://discord.com/invite/colonizemars

Medical Training Simulations
Episode
4

Medical Training Simulations

Due to the ongoing dust storm, transmissions from Mars to Earth are jammed. Instead of reading out a Mars Diary, Emma invites the audience to try their hand at a couple of official ISA Medical Simulations and diagnose some of the common health concerns in a space colony. Now an official ISA podcast. The ISA is built by people like you! Tune in live every Tuesday 4:00 PM UTC to chat with Emma, ask her questions, and participate in interactive exercises like this one! All through our official transmission channel: https://discord.com/invite/colonizemars

Storm Coming
Episode
3

Storm Coming

There is a storm approaching the ISA Mars base, and tensions between the 12 astronauts are high. Mission Two engineer John Alves takes a step back to talk about proofing rovers against the sands of Mars and shed some light on the mystery of the broken glass. Now an official ISA podcast. The ISA is built by people like you! Tune in live every Tuesday 4:00 PM UTC to chat with Emma, ask her questions… and read some cryptic internal ISA messages…?All through our official transmission channel: https://discord.com/invite/colonizemars

"Broken Glass"
Episode
2

"Broken Glass"

Mission Three botanist Patricia Holzer describes the events of a disturbing week in which the vital trust between the 12 ISA astronauts on Mars is damaged by an act of vandalism. Now an official ISA podcast. The ISA is built by people like you! Tune in live every Tuesday 4:00 PM UTC to chat with Emma, ask her questions… and read some cryptic internal ISA messages…? All through our official transmission channel: https://discord.com/invite/colonizemars

"My other job is on mars"
Episode
1

"My other job is on mars"

Emma Miller takes a break from her bar gig to bring you updates from the Interplanetary Space Alliance colony on Mars. Now an official ISA podcast!