Dr. Vogel’s Tungsten

Log Entry: Mission Day 130

“Wer nicht vorwärts kommt, kommt rückwärts.” I must keep this in mind. I cannot allow what has happened affect my work. Currently, I need to analyze the Martian samples we were able to take in our escape. In total, we took 57.3kg from Mars. For reference, the Apollo 11 mission to the moon took back 21.5kg. Armstrong and Aldrin only spent two and a quarter hours on the surface. We were on Mars for 6 days! We only started to collect samples this morning. I guess NASA wanted to make sure we gathered something before the storm. But why did they have to schedule collection the morning of the storm. Maybe if we were doing something else, we might have been prepared. We might have brought more back with us. We might have brought Watney back with us. I should get back to work and analyze these samples… I need something to distract myself.

Log Entry: Mission Day 132

I finally got around to doing my job. I need to start making myself care bout the mission again. ARES 3 Soil Analysis: Composition: Magnesium, Sodium, Potassium, Chloride, Iron, and trace amounts of other elements (advanced analysis recommended), Flammability: Low, Radiation: Inert, Status: Stored and ready for re-entry. As I figured, ordinary Martian soil. Nothing special about it, except that it looks like it is soaked in the blood of my fallen crew member. Why do we risk lives for dirt?

Log Entry: Mission Day 135

I analyzed the rocks today. The are about the same composition and traits as those retrieved from earlier ARES missions. Safe, Inert, non flammable rocks that are a little bit more forgiving than their mother. Hopefully further analysis of these samples will yield important information for science. That’s what Watney died for, after all.

Log Entry: Mission Day 138

So I found something… odd. The sample of rock I tested today were from the same supply of rock as the first sample, but there is some inconsistency. This sample showed very low signs of radioactivity and seemed to contain a very unstable isotope of plutonium. How did this radiation not bleed into the other sample? I’ll retry the tests tomorrow and see if I can get more consistent results.

Log Entry: Mission Day 139

I think something is wrong with my equipment. I retrieved the first rock sample and tested that for radiation. I found it to be just as radioactive as the second sample. How did I not see this the first time? The 1st sample also contained Plutonium that did not show up on the first test. There has to be something missing here. The Plutonium has to have come from something.

Yes, I’ve found it! It seems that the tungsten that was in the rocks during the first test is gone! The tungsten has completely transferred into plutonium in a few hours. The reaction that has just taken place may been a new process of matter that humans are not aware of. In any case, I need to get this to Earth for further study.

Log Entry: Mission Day 199

I have been reading the radiation increases closely and have found that I can manage to keep the crew safe for the next 340 days. After that, the radiation will start increasing to very dangerous levels. However, we will be returning to Earth well before then. Earth. I miss it. It is the home that I long for while I journey. I wish to be with my family again, and appreciate what Mark can no longer have. I’m sure the commander is still destroyed by this. She tries not to show it but, she blames herself for what happened. I hope that she can find some peace from returning to Earth.

Log Entry: Mission Day 249

That damnable NASA finally decided to inform us that our Botanist is still alive. How can they be so cold? We should have been told earlier. Oh well, I hope that Mark pulls through this. From what we have heard, the plans to retrieve him are in motion. Whatever he does, he better not blow himself up.

Log Entry: Mission Day 279

Last night, I had a terrible dream that the survival of Mark and the crew was up to me. I don’t know how Lewis handles it. My nightmares are her reality. How odd that some people actually thrive in that type of pressured environment.

Log Entry: Mission Day 287

This… This stuff! What is it? I have been keeping a keen eye on the plutonium and making sure the radiation increase is not overwhelming. I have had good luck up until this morning. I checked the radiation acceleration and found that it has tripled since the day before! I cannot afford for this to happen much more. A few more increases like that and the radiation will make me and the rest of the crew dead men and women walking. We cannot get to Earth soon enough!

Log Entry: Mission Day 289

The radiation is continuing to accelerate at an increasing rate. The time for uncertainty is over. If I do not throw out the plutonium within the next three days, we will start to become permanently affected by the radiation. Depending on proximity to the sample, we should all expect life expectancies of about 5 years after landing. I need to decide between life, and scientific progress. This is not my responsibility, I am a chemist not a commander! I feel fine risking my own life, but it is not my place to kill my friends. I need to think on this.

Log Entry: Mission Day 290

I had a conversation with Lewis this morning. She didn’t know it, but I was asking her questions that her life depended on. We talked about Watney, how she went back for him. She said that it took everything in her to stop looking for Watney. If we hadn’t called her back, she probably would have let the MAV tip. The pain of loss and failure are unbearable in that moment. All she wanted was some hope that he was alive. Now, even with all the uncertainty, the fact that Watney is alive is enough. It gives hope. And so, I have decided that I should preserve hope. I have rid the Hermes of the strange martian rocks. They are gone.

Log Entry: Mission Day 326

We have decided to go back for Watney. I am so glad that I took action when I did. I do not know whether my values were in the right place, but luck favored my decision! The plutonium is gone, floating far away from Hermes. I know that whatever was happening to that rock was something of great importance, but humanity needs more than progress to continue moving forward. I have bought hope with my decision. The hope that will come to Earth with Watney’s rescue and our arrival. This hope will propel Earth towards ARES 4 and Mars colonization. My experience is reproducible, I can feel it! If we continue to move forward, the event will reoccur and the secrets will be laid bare for all the world to see. This is my hope, and I go forward in my actions. I do not care that I am committing mutiny, I am just doing my part to help humanity progress.

Jack Blaes

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