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Final Report of Anastasiya Stepanova

December 19, 2016

Anastasiya Stepanova – Mars 160 phase one final words

What is 80 days for you? Is it a lot or too short for a space mission? Usually astronauts spend three months on International Space Station, therefore we passed already the time test. We did not go crazy from 80 days away from the Earth. Actually, in the first part of the Mars 160 mission we passed too many tests, some not planned at all, some confusing, challenging and some enjoyable. The first lesson learned – things will be as they are and not as you expected. You can draw positive or negative conclusion out of it, but just accepting the fact and dealing with it means you have already passed the test. The second lesson learned – there is no limits to human’s ability to adapt and keep on going, living and surviving. At the station we are surrounded by limitations all the time and instead of stressing out, we are liberated from Earth habits and try to like the new way of living. The third lesson learned – there is never enough of new skills and knowledge. I like the saying “the more we learn the more freedom we have”. The knowledge is a powerful tool to overcome any critical situation, to deal with problems, to help and to create. These are the three pillars of knowledge on which my Mars160 experience is built.

Every day was filled with various activities from cooking to dissolving gypsum samples and waiting for microorganisms to grow. The busy schedule kept the crew in healthy psychological environment and in good brain shape. I guess the amount of work and new bridges to cross were the reason I did not miss Earth as much as it would be expected. Not even once, I was sad and lonely. Not even once, I wanted to give up and run away. Not even once, I regret changing my life in order to be on this unique mission.

The day has come. “Welcome back to Earth” – said Shannon on the radio, the Director of MDRS and Principal Investigator of our mission. For a few seconds I stopped in time, looked from aside to this sudden new world. Or, better to say, an old world but with new me. I will miss the silence and tranquility of isolation from the outside world, the breathtaking view of the desert, the beautiful and cold nights, the wit jokes, the friendship and crew bonding, the everyday learning, the life on Earthy Mars. Is it the end? No, it is just the beginning!