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Unearthing: A Story Based on Port of Mars

Updated: May 23, 2021

by Patrick Rivers

Note: This is a work of fiction. This science fiction artefact was created by Patrick Rivers under the eLearning in Space pilot project of the Interplanetary Initiative at Arizona State University. The stories will also be featured in a simulated Mars habitat on a "SolarSPELL" device by the 5 Senses in Space team of the Interplanetary Initiative at ASU. These accounts describe the formal and informal learning experiences of interplanetary settlers, and give us insight into what resources, methodologies, and delivery systems will be needed in an interplanetary future.


Unearthing is the first significant artifact on the Port of Mars, the first established settlement on Mars. This log details the day-to-day (or on Mars, "sol-to-sol") activity in the Research Wing and the settlers’ learning habits.

The journal is written from the perspective of Olympia Lebedev during Project Substratum, which improved the Port’s structure leading to its further expansion. She is a Russian environmentalist, chemist, and physicist who has been living on the Port for 8 years. Olympia, along with the rest of the settlement, is part of Generation Zero, the name given to the first thousand “non-astronaut” settlers on Mars.

The journal also details the lives of four other settlers who were frequent users of the Research Wing and its Martian SolarSPELLS, which stores information ranging from emergency situation protocol to music theory. Kyla Gusto, Xingyu Chen, Rodrigo Pedro, and Edison Gulzar are all featured in the journal for their educational habits and their assistance in Olympia’s observation.

Ares Corporation, the company responsible for developing the Port, requested the analysis of the Research Wing in order to properly understand the learning habits of the settlers. What makes Olympia’s journal more unique is the personal observation she brings, with both Project Substratum as well as other observations and ideas she states in her entries. Unearthing laid the foundation for future research and development in Martian education and future settlers have Olympia to thank for her achievement.


This Journal and Its Discoveries Were Achieved For

We Thank and Honor Olympia Lebedev For This Piece of Martian History


Note from the Translator: If something is typed in [brackets], it was not written by Olympia but added during the translation for smoother reading.

Earth Year of Port of Mars Establishment: 2049


Olympia Lebedev’s Personal Log (Translated from Russian)

Earth Date: September 9, 2057

End of Week 1 of Project Substratum

Project Substratum has been long overdue. Despite another 50 travelers arriving earlier this year, we still have not expanded the Port since Y4 [Year 4 since the Establishment of Port of Mars in 2049], which is only half the size of the Valles. The tasks of collecting information about the red planet, as well as constant system repair, detract from setting expansion as a priority. This past week, I began researching solutions to make the Port safer and more secure with its structure.

While everyone continues learning repairs and EVA training, I believe that medical, agricultural, and environmental studies are just as important. When the system's health varies so much from sol to sol and 5 to 10 technicians are on call, it’s frustrating for someone like me, who was really excited about the expansion of this new world. The approval of Project Substratum has reignited my passion, so I am excited to truly leave an impact on this civilization and perhaps even lead the way into the expansion of the Mars settlement.

This is the first time I’ve spent the majority of a sol in the Research Wing. Out of all the wings and rooms on the Port, I think it's where I’ve spent the least time. It’s not that I haven’t utilized the SPELLs and their information, but as one who provided a significant amount of the information held in the devices, I just use it whenever I can’t remember something rather than to learn something new.

The R-Wing design is somewhat similar to the Scientific Library of MSU [Moscow State University], except of course that it’s very compact and has far less physical literature. I decided to set up shop at the closest holo station near the exit, in case there was an emergency situation on board. I have been leading most of the repair missions up until this point after all.

It became increasingly aware that Project Substratum would not be a simple task, and it was difficult adjusting to a desk environment once again. After years of repairing and relaying information back to the Ares Corp on Earth, I think I will be less stressed in researching. The idea of exploring and continuing to traverse this incredible planet’s terrain is inspiring to me. The work it will require is no small task.

Kyla Gusto, a former senator in the States, has helped me get accustomed to the R-Wing. There’s a reason why she was the tour guide in the “Hello from Mars!” edu-vid. She has time and time again been a blessing for us scientists, as her passion for our discoveries is contagious. In fact, she is probably why I kept requesting this, despite being denied so many times.

I sometimes worry for our safety during repair missions but we’ve always had the tools to fix it and I believe there are several capable settlers on board that can also lead the missions. Additionally, Kyla knew I wanted to do more than gather materials and hand them over to the historians on board. She continually surprises me with how much information she knows about everything, despite only coming from a law background from the United States. I promised I’d leave any prejudice I had against other countries back on Earth. It’s one thing to say it while it’s another to actually mean it. All jokes aside, I truly do think the idea of a fresh start without national identity is not only beneficial for the whole team but also ideal for the start of a settlement on Mars. We are all Martians now.

I’m excited to see where the next week takes my work.



Earth Date: September 16, 2057

End of Week 2 of Project Substratum

The research is going well, with potential solutions lying in the form of radiation shielding. I’m looking into possible material that may be able to simulate the Earth’s magnetosphere, which of course is what deflects solar particles and therefore repels the radiation of space: GCR (Galactic Cosmic Rays) and SPE (Solar Particle Events). Needless to say, building something that simulates a natural occurrence on Earth will be a giant undertaking, so I decided to halt that thought and work towards a solution that is more plausible: a better material for the Port’s structure devised of natural substances found here.

On the topic of repair, it seems that the Earth-favorite Perseverance Rover is experiencing difficulties again, and it may be out of commission for good soon. Perseverance has not been used for research for many years now, but it continues traveling around the Port and scientists on Earth still check in with the rover. Speaking without any emotional attachment, Perseverance, despite its historical significance towards Mars research, especially in the 20s and early 30s, has been a symbol, rather than a utensil, years before the Port of Mars was established.

Sometimes you need a symbol to survive. Perseverance represented a new step towards the establishment of my new home. I was only 10 when I saw the landing online. It still fills me with excitement thinking about the possibility of sending something to Mars, even now as a Martian. Lots of Zeroes [slang name for individuals in Generation Zero] like to refer to Perseverance as “Old Yeller,” so I guess it was a matter of time before a shutdown was to happen. Xingyu Chen, a brilliant mechanic from Shenzhen, China, has been assigned the project that will determine the next step for Perseverance, whether it be using its parts for something new or studying how the environment of Mars has affected its structure.

When we develop a new longer-lasting material for the Port, I expect Xingyu Chen to be the first to thank me. Every time system health takes a drop, Xingyu is the first to come check it out. Despite my working relationship with them, I can’t seem to recall a time where either of us initiated any sort of conversation that didn’t start with “what’s the problem?” Maybe it has to do with the language barrier between Russian and Mandarin. Translator devices are easier to use in more casual situations rather than times of repair.

Xingyu has occupied a space near the back of the R-Wing for their research, which has a connector to the outside that is convenient for whenever they need to peer in on Old Yeller. From what I have observed, Xingyu spent most of the week interacting with the rover outside the Port rather than at their desk. Learning by experimentation it seems. Except for yestersol, where I saw them using one of the S.E. [Space Exploration] SPELLS to research the rovers of the past century. That led them down a path from learning about the history of famous space explorers from Neil Armstrong to up until recently with Diana Sarabhi. Seeing Xingyu’s curiosity grow was something to behold, I couldn’t help but momentarily stop my work to watch them. I assumed most of the Zeroes know all about the history of space travels, but that seems to not be the case. The R-Wing has been a nice change of scenery so far.

I’m excited to see where the next week takes my work, as well as Xingyu’s.



Earth Date: September 23, 2057

End of Week 3 of Project Substratum

The importance of the 3D printer cannot be overstated. They have made creating and testing potential devices and structures incredibly simple. I’ve used them countless times during my life and studies, but it still amazes me that I can develop a blueprint and give it to the printer to devise. Technology is something huh!

Rodrigo Pedro, a lead developer of the Martian SolarSPELL, has been helping me use his SPELLs to develop these test devices. We’re really lucky to have him on board. Rodrgio along with his parents are the reason why there is so much information on board and it certainly helps the whole colony’s communication by having another polyglot on board.

While he was helping me with printing prototypes, I inquired about the lingual SPELLS and the effectiveness of their programs. He responded, “tak ya vyuchil vash yazyk” [that is how I learned your language]. I don’t know why I thought up until this point Rodrigo learned all these languages from school or travels, but it would be odd for the child of the founders of the modern M.S. to not utilize their own device.

I’ve decided to use some break time along with down time during my E-wing (Exercise wing) session to start learning Mandarin. I think it's irresponsible on my end to have never had a real conversation with my neighbor Xingyu who I’ve worked so often with.

I’m excited to see what I encounter next, both in work and in observation.



Earth Date: September 30, 2057

End of Week 4 of Project Substratum

I have to admit, I did not make as much progress on Project Substratum as I had hoped. One sol this past week, I had to help with a repair in the E-wing, but my lack of progress was due to distraction. It was a welcomed distraction.. I have been researching possible Martian material for a new foundation for the expansion of the Port, but I also have been observing the R-Wing more and more. The Ares Corporation does ask all researchers in the R-Wing to document activity in the wing so technically me being distracted is part of my work. There are Zeroes that come in and out for information, ranging from how food growth works here to how to deadlift correctly. But then they are regulars such as Xingyu and the younger Zeroes who are referred to as the students on board.

I believe there are four people on board younger than 30 Earth years who all gather in the Edu-Room of the R-Wing for classes. But the youngest by far, Edison Gulzar, is always there the longest. I’m surprised it has taken me this long to notice.

Edison is the “baby-on-board,” as the other Zeroes call him. From what I know, he is from the U.K. (at least his accent is) and was one of Earth’s brightest stars, labeled the most successful young musician since Billie Eilish of the States. I don’t know what about space and Mars intrigued him and his mother, but all I know is that they were able to travel here, and they have been caring neighbors of mine. It’s unclear if Edison is required to take more education or not due to his age, but I remember two sols ago seeing him in there before I got there and him staying after I left.

Additionally, Xingyu’s work on Perseverance seems to be going slowly but studying. I think they’ve identified that the rover will need a new purpose to keep its presence in the Port. I think they’ve been mostly focused on repurposing its parts but they are struggling to figure out the necessity behind that process, since technology has advanced so heavily since its creation. Xingyu has also gone from Space Explorers to Earth explorers in their recreational research. Ronald Amundsen, Nellie Bly and a few others I saw appear on their holo. I’m glad I’m not the only one distracted in my work. I’m still practicing Mandarin too, so I’m hoping one day I’ll be able to talk to their progress on Perseverance about it in their natural tongue.

Wishing there were more hours in the sol.



Earth Date: October 7, 2057

End of Week 5 of Project Substratum

After lacking the necessary “flare'' of motivation most of last week, I’ve decided to make my project and Xingyu’s into a friendly competition. Xingyu doesn’t really know about the competition, and it’s hard to compare the two projects’ timeframes. In reflection, I may be using Xingyu’s work ethic as inspiration for my own; but regardless of whatever one may call it, it’s made me work harder than I did the previous week. Competition, inspiration: I’m making progress and that’s all that matters.

I also tried to have a simple conversation in Mandarin with them the other sol. I started with a simple “Nǐ hǎo ma [how are you]” which I knew previously to my studies, and I’ve said that to them before; so I think Xingyu thought nothing new of it at first. Then I followed that up with “Yánjiū jìnzhǎn rúhé, [how is the research coming (along)]” which resulted in quite a reaction I can only call pleasantly surprised, but equally confused. However, I made the awkward error of assuming they would respond simply like “Hǎo de” [good] or the always honest “Qiángdiào de” [stressed/stressful]. I’m still not sure entirely what words they responded with but it wasn’t a simple answer, so I interrupted them saying I was still learning. They were really understanding, thankfully, but I can’t say I wasn’t embarrassed for not being able to have a conversation yet. They also seemed so excited to talk to someone new in Mandarin. I am working on Project Substratum after all, so I have to give myself a break for not knowing a whole entire language after four weeks.

Kyla came by the R-Wing more than usual this week. She always comes on S3s [Sol-3, which is the third day of the week, similar to Wednesday] and researches topics like various countries’ independences and establishments and even early civilizations. Kyla has been a great organizer and leader on the Port, and that stems from her genuine care for people. She loves telling me about all the possibilities for the future of the Port. And because of her bright energy and passion, I can’t help but listen to it. This week, she seemed stressed under her natural optimistic self. She believes the Port with more arrivals will become more distant. She and I loved the togetherness of the first few groups of arrivals, but some of the newer arrivals feel, well, not as close. It’s not cliquey like a high school lunchroom, but it feels like there’s some divide in comfortability on the Port, as well as with one another. But like Kyla, I don’t want the togetherness to dissipate. That’s why it felt like such an easy decision to try and learn Mandarin. I hope I can help Kyla with everything she wants the Port to be. Both now for the Zeroes and all the future generations of Martians.



Earth Date: October 14, 2057

End of Week 6 of Project Substratum

Although it feels like this week has my busiest, I still find time to observe the R-Wing. I’ve made steady progress experimenting with various material and structural designs. I’ve also gained a curiosity for the process of how younger Martians are learning here. Edison specifically.

There’s a small divide in age and experience between the younger generations on board and the older. Except for Edison, I believe he turned 19 on his travels here. He also seemed to be thriving on Earth in a medium that is heavily rewarded financially and publicly. He also barely makes the legal age that allows him legally to be part of a “Ares Port Expedition.” I know I’m witnessing some sort of history in the music world but I can’t help but think it may be irresponsible for someone so young to commit to this highly codependent and potentially dangerous life.

But he doesn’t seem to be lonely from what I’ve seen. I mean he’s physically alone studying when not in his classes, but I think he shares that space with the music he listens to. In those moments, he’s together with the song and artist. After each class, he picks out one of the music SPELLs and listens at a holo station for a few hours.

I asked Rodrigo if there’s a way to see what music he has listened to. I didn’t realize how foolish this question was until he responded, “No, we don’t let users search other users’ SPELL history.” I apologized but he just laughed. “Okay I can see how that would be an issue,” I replied. But I do have to ask him what he listens to. I haven’t discovered any new music really since my youth, and I seem to have one of the best musical talents on Earth now on Mars. Actually, I should probably ask to hear his own music first; or better yet, introduce myself. Let’s start with that, Olympia.



Earth Date: October 21, 2057

End of Week 7 of Project Substratum

Kyla is amazing. She’s simply amazing. The sol to sol operations of the Port, as one may already expect, are very dependent on collaboration to overcome challenges. Although the importance of technological development cannot be overstated, it’s what we decide to do with said technology that helps advance our settlement’s ideas.

Without Kyla, I believe there would still be consistent conflict between a lot of the “type As” on board. Because the Ares Corporation selects extremely diligent and intellectual individuals for the initial settlement, organization and process is much needed. And that’s where Kyla comes in with her system of idea sharing, where each settler’s proposition is equally presented, considered, and respected (as long as it keeps the interest of all settlers in mind, sometimes individuals can be selfish in this new territory). When research for Project Substratum is completed, there is already a task force assigned to further develop and put ideation into creation into completion. Most settlers already understand this; but we as Martians must set aside any personal desire for the sake of the settlement’s goals. As Kyla says, “We the settlers are the brain, and the Port is the heart; everything the brain does must be to protect the heart, or both shall cease to be.”

I believe this is not a new philosophy for Kyla, as she’s incredibly well-versed with conflict resolution. Unfortunately, there will always be selfish people. The Port may pride itself on consensus building and togetherness, but if we reach our goals of expansion, there will be a day that togetherness will no longer be required for some people’s survival. Kyla is trying to avoid that sol by building this foundation now; and although she does everything brightly and beautifully, I’m skeptical about her hope. Her quote can persuade both the selfless and selfish, since every problem affects everyone. But when Mars reaches a point of comfortability way into the future, will this togetherness still be present? Or will it devolve into the alienation and distance I felt so heavily on Earth?

This is the only time in human history where a civilization’s foundation is rooted in intersectionality and diversity: where each settler is respected and accommodated for by one another. I pray to the stars that it stays that way in the future.



Earth Date: October 28, 2057

End of Week 8 of Project Substratum

I don’t usually like to write about the emergency situations on board; there are already several settlers whose job it is to rePort those back to Ares. But this week felt heavier and more dire than usual. Luckily everyone ended up safely this past S2, but what could have been the start of an air pocket was discovered and could have been detrimental to the entire south side of the wing if it were not identified so early. Every sol is a blessing, and I don’t want any rePort of my research or observation to distract from how thankful I am for everyone aboard this Port, not just the individuals who help me personally with my work and research.

I believe my mother Katina raised me in her image, or rather, what she wanted her image to be if she were immortal and could live multiple lives. I’m blessed to come from a family of scientists and entrepreneurs, who take in pride in our rich family history. She was no different. She became an integral part of Russia’s climate task force and helped preserve the Earth, as well as serve as an advocate for all human rights. She is the reason why I am in the position I am.

I am forever thankful for the training and wisdom my mother taught me. It’s why I’m here in my career and can be a part of human history. But I also wouldn’t be here on Mars if it weren’t for her passing. It sounds dark when I put it into writing, but I would not have made this decision had she not passed away. I don’t know how many other settlers are in similar situations with their family and friends, but it’s quite a commitment to leave everyone you love on Earth. It’s an easier decision when there isn’t anything or anyone to leave behind.

I understand a few settlers have had the privilege of their friends being in fields eligible for Mars travels. There are even some settlers that arrived together and had a relationship on Earth. But I can only imagine for many others, their relationships on Earth have been altered forever. The communication wait time is long and much like how Project Substratum was delayed, fixing that is not a priority for us on board. We have resorted back to videos sent back and forth that feel more like a 20th century way of communicating, like letters.

This is what made me so frustrated with the postponement of the Port’s expansion time and time again. The idea of a new world is exciting; it could bring together families and friends as well as create opportunities for new relationships. I touched upon this last week, but we never know if we can build a utopia that learns from all the mistakes of Earth if there isn’t enough space to build it. This light seems to reignite in me each week.

This work could lead Mars to what Mom always wanted Earth to be.



Earth Date: November 4, 2057

End of Week 9 of Project Substratum

I finally had a conversation with Edison this week. He is extremely intelligent and it's not just the British accent. The conversation felt very easy too, I just had to bring up music. It’s clear he doesn’t just memorize song titles and reviews them, but genuinely understands the technical attributes of the song and can pinpoint why or why not he doesn’t like certain refrains, verses, etcetera. For example, he can identify chords and techniques as they happen in each and every piece he talks about it. A lot of the music and musicians he speaks about are much older than you would think a 19-year-old would be listening too.

He showed me numerous songs and even played a few for me to listen to. One that stood out was MC Yogi’s spiritual anthem, or one of his bhajans as Edison called them, Sun Light. He raved about the use of trumpets to really compliment the sound of MC Yogi’s vocals to create a religious Hindu experience. But I was very surprised to hear MC Yogi was actually from the west coast of the States. Other artists and work that I remember him mentioning was Pedro Luís e a Parede’s song “excitedly percussive” Caio no suingue, Oliver Tree’s “aggressively groovy and technological” track 1993, and Denise Ho’s ballad “木紋” [pronounced Mù wén], which Edison described as “Quiet then passionate then quiet again then passionate again. But never not intense.” Edison listed more but I made sure to keep those three in mind. Maybe some of my R-Wing friends know about them. I also asked to hear some of his music but he was too embarrassed to. I guess that’s how I would feel if he asked me to see my scientific journals.

We mostly talked about music, but I couldn’t help but ask what’s been on my mind the past few weeks: why would he choose to go to Mars at such a young age? I know he has his mother on board; but at that age, you have friends and more family. In this specific case, he had fans. I realize it may have been too frank, but I asked him straight-forwardly, “Was it an easy choice for you and your mom to leave your life on Earth behind?’ He replied simply, “What life?” He then casually went back to talking about his music.

I’m still dumbfounded at the answer, “What life?” They said he was one the biggest rising talents on Earth. Someday I may ask him to elaborate; but for now, it will stay in my head, leaving me to decipher it.



Earth Date: November 11, 2057

End of Week 10 of Project Substratum

People of Earth and Ares Corporation, we have made a huge breakthrough in Project Substratum. One of the materials discovered here on Mars will possess greater durability without any potentially toxic residue or conflict with materials present on the Port. The hard part of the project I think is finished. I think the implementation of the technology can still prove difficult however, especially how much experimenting it may need. Luckily I have Xingyu volunteering to help.

Xingyu’s project has led to a way bigger and more beautiful path. Perseverance, even with its cultural and scientific significance, has become unsurprisingly obsolete; and, according to Xingyu, “A waste of the past scientific generations’ time to uphold any longer.” They have decided to pitch a museum for our Mars development. The idea of keeping Perseverance around wasn’t because of its necessity, but because of its history and what it represents to Martians. The legacy of Perseverance, along with the other past rovers, orbitars, and supply transPorters and their developers through this will be remembered. After all, none of this would have been possible without them.

I think Xingyu was discouraged before this idea. I saw them less the last few weeks, but they were in the R-Wing every sol this past week. After coming to terms with the rover’s destiny, they arose with a new project that should have been the project the entire time. I think they’re also very excited to map out the museum, which will incorporate my project and the expansion of the Port. That feels good to say.

Oh! Xingyu and I talked two sols ago and some of it was in Mandarin! I told them I felt embarrassed about our conversation weeks ago, but they didn’t accept my apology. Instead they thanked me and said that they never thought anyone would do something like that for them. Not only was I taken aback and really happy at that moment, but they thanked me in Mandarin and I understood it! They also said they would help me if I didn’t understand something when learning. Very considerate.

We didn’t need to use translator devices until they started to tell me about their life. It’s incredible, they don’t have any higher education. They worked as both a custodian and technician in Shenzhen, and were chosen due to their knowledge of repair systems similar to ones they used in China. They also never went to any institution or higher education past the age of 17, which surprised me. I promised them I wouldn’t talk about their entire life in this journal but allowed me to mention that they also saw moving to Mars as a great opPortunity to truly be themselves and be accepted by a new family.

I’m really happy to be a part of Xingyu’s family,


Postscript: They said they’ve heard of Denise Ho but said she was a great Cantopop artist from Hong Kong. Raised more questions than answered. I’ll ask Edison for some Cantopop recommendations.


Earth Date: November 18, 2057

End of Week 11 of Project Substratum

For someone who needs help with the SPELLs every sol, I don’t mention Rodrigo nearly enough. If I’m the president of Project Substratum, he has been the prime minister. I have asked for his help at least once a sol. It feels, at times, like I was learning two languages: Mandarin and the library’s organization.

The SPELLs are very straightforward once you find the right one. But without the internet, we want our supplies on new arrivals to be packed with as many new SPELLs as possible, exploring new topics as well as more obscure ones. As you might imagine, the library is very expansive. Rodrigo is the main organizer of the R-Wing’s layout. Even though he says it’s okay to call him anytime, he has labeled the button that calls him for help: “Olympia’s Punch Card.” Guess it lets him know I’m here.

I don’t think I’ll understand how the machinery of the library works. It seems like Rodrigo has the SPELLs organized by name, subject, date, recent usage, least recent usage, color, texture, everything. It’s really fantastic, but I needed to know how it still feels organized. He was caught off guard when I pressed my “punch card” and asked him about the SPELLs themselves. He explained that he keeps the data of the usage and the subjects of the SPELLs and that’s how he determines where to put them. But sometimes I’ll see SPELLs that are displayed alphabetically, but usually all within one subject. He said that they will organize the topics by the preference of the settler that uses them the most, like how the music SPELLs are organized by Edison’s preference of era. But he hadn’t asked me my preference on the topics I use so I was curious. With a grin he said, “Your preference is that I find them for you.”

He’s not wrong.



Earth Date: November 25, 2057

End of Week 12 of Project Substratum

Edison said something rather profound today. He’s not just intelligent about music, but he’s also very confident about his approach to life. I think stardom that early in your life ages you. After his class today, Edison was researching artists and sampling songs when I approached him about what he said a few weeks ago. I asked him, after I prefaced that he didn’t have to answer, “What was it about life on Earth that motivated you to come to Mars? I know it’s not the appeal of making an album on Mars... is it.” He said it’s hard for him to say out loud, so he would write me an answer by the end of the sol. This is what it said:

“It’s going to be incredible to be the first musician to create an album on Mars. But you’re right, that’s not all of it. My childhood was on halt for this creative outlet that turned into a profession. I dropped out of school to keep myself in that world, creating music, meeting so many people in the industry that would not have cared about me if I didn’t know all this music stuff (he didn’t say stuff here but you get the idea). They were very nice to me, and I appreciate that because I know they meant well. It became hard to differentiate between people who liked my music and people who liked me. I really had no privacy either. It was really detrimental to everything in my life at that point. My Mom could see this, so she made up this whole thing about ‘the first musician on Mars.’ My label partnered with Ares, and now I’m here, where I don’t feel like I did on Earth -- a stranger that everyone knows the name of. Thanks for reaching out, Eddy.” It really speaks for itself. Fame at that age can be tough to handle I bet. Although my favorite celebrities on Earth were scientists, it’s fortunate that even with the most famous ones, their private lives become public. I’m sad he was robbed of a normal life on Earth, but happy to help provide him with a new one on Mars.

He also told me this during the Cafeteria Wing while I was with Kyla. He and his mother willingly sat down next to us too. It’s exciting to feel like a celebrity to a celebrity (I’m exaggerating of course) He has gotten really comfortable here, except with the food. As many of you on Earth and in the Ares Corporation know, the food here tastes faded. Not as faded as it was when I was on the ISS periodically, but still faded. Because of this, Edison puts massive amounts of hot sauce on anything just for a taste. He said he never enjoyed hot sauce on Earth but it’s one of the only things he enjoys to eat now. I told him he’ll get used to it, but I honestly can’t guarantee that.



Olympia Lebedev’s Personal Log (Translated from Mandarin)

Earth Date: December 2nd, 2057

End of Week 13 of Project Substratum

I thought this would be good practice for learning Mandarin. I will keep asking for help to a minimum, but I will still need a lot of help.

Xingyu and I are collaborating on the next project following this project Project Substratum, which I think they will excel in. It’s the phase where we must explore through experimentation and exploration. We understand the properties of potential materials, now it is time to experiment.

Rodrigo and I will be seeing each other less when Xingyu and I start our experiments. We still have to figure out blueprints for models, as well as the final product. He is the foundation of the Research Wing. Until recently, I didn’t know much about him besides his abilities and intellect. I asked him about Pedro Luís e a Parede, and he said that they performed his grandparents’ favorite song Tudo vale a pena. He also told me a secret that he keeps his own personal SPELL in his sector. Usually, SPELLs are accessible to everyone, but they allowed him to have his own, as he and his family are Martian SPELL designers.

Edison asked me today if I knew who the Spice Girls were. The name sounded familiar, so I said yes . He asked if I knew who Scary Spice was. This is when I realized I don’t know who the Spice Girls are. Edison said she was his great-grandmother. Now I’ve been listening to the Spice Girls during the week.

This entry was incredibly hard to do, so I am going to stop bothering Xingyu for help with it now.



Olympia Lebedev’s Personal Log (Translated from Russian)

Earth Date: December 9th, 2057

End of Week 14 of Project Substratum

As I begin to finish my research this past week, I have begun preparing for the next step of experimentation and implementation. My time in the Research Wing for Project Substratum is coming to an end. But the cosmos knows that I’m not close to learning Mandarin, that’s for sure.

Kyla helped tremendously with presenting the pitch to Earth. When transferring a large amount of data over a signal, it can take days. Luckily I was able to gain a consensus from the settlers on the matter, with them letting me use one of the main DSN [Deep Space Network] antennas (with some help from Kyla). I was required to use one of the main DSNs no matter what answer the settlement came to, but I always want to use opPortunities like this to further establish connectivity and togetherness. As indicated by one of my previous entries, I don’t want the Port to ever lose that feeling.

Me having Rodrigo, Kyla, and Xingyu on the next project almost guarantees its success. Xingyu is still busy with their museum project, and Rodrigo is still the master librarian, but will lend a hand when they can. And Kyla is the manager of it all. I’m really thankful for the people here.

I’m trying to think if there’s any way Edison can be included, but I believe that would be irresponsible. Of course his education has to come first, and I don’t want to distract him from that. This project is for him. For all the future generations of Martians. His project will come later, when it’s his turn to carry on this Port’s next evolution. He also needs to focus on his music, so his fans continue to believe he moved here for the album and not his mental health.

Kyla told me about a movie her grandmother showed her when she was young. Dead Poets’ Society, she said. And there’s a part where the teacher character says to his students, “Medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.” Although I was mostly fixated on the age of the young settler, I also thought Edsion’s “Settler’s Intention” of “making the first album on Mars was something that was unnecessary on our planet. But after listening to his passion for the art of music and its history, I can see how important that really is for people, including myself now.

One more week to prepare.



Earth Date: December 16th, 2057

End of Week 15 of Project Substratum

In response to last week’s entry, Ares suggested I present an analysis on the activities of the Research Wing during Project Substratum, in order to further the Port’s approaches to education. I agreed that this would be incredibly beneficial, and I thought the best way was to analyze the educational strategies and the specific Learning Realms explored by four individuals I interacted with the most, as well as my own.

I’ve determined that Kyla’s learning has been primarily at the mid-to upper levels of the learning taxonomy. She seems to feel most comfortable in the levels of understanding, applying, evaluating, and analyzing, given her degree in law and extensive number of years living on earth in traditional environments. She has experience in all three Learning Realms on earth. However, now at the Port of Mars where Realm 4 is present, she hopes to advance her learning to the level of creating.

One of the best technicians in the Port was present in the wing for their restoration turned historical-preservation project: Xingyu Chen. Their learning has been primarily self-taught, and, therefore their learning has been personalized and adaptive. They likely have experienced all levels of the learning taxonomy, but without experience in Learning Realms 1 through 3. Having been a socially-lacking custodian on Earth, their scope of learning was limited However, they were confident and motivated to gain a better foundation and are now advancing to higher levels of learning now that they’re at the Port of Mars and opPortunities for personalized exploration are available to them.

Rodgrigo’s learning is at the most complex level of the learning taxonomy: creativity. He has a strong foundation, having advanced through all levels to develop information technological products, doing so through Learning Realms 1-3 and supported by his familial context. He not only creates, but he also is able to problem solve through evaluation, analysis, and application. He appreciates the importance of information as a basis for remembering and works to produce both historical information and new information to facilitate the learning of others. They run the operations of the Research Wing, so naturally they are often-referred to as the “keeper of information” here on the Port.

Edison’s learning has advanced through all levels from simple to complex, achieved in the arts domain. He has experience in Learning Realms 1-3 on Earth, but focused in the music and fine arts domain. His learning on Mars will continue to require a unique form of creativity that will entail evaluating the environment, analyzing what factors will impact the creation of sound, and then creating music that accommodates and optimizes his music. Most of his musical research conducted during my time working on Project Substratum consisted of musical theory and history, but will eventually lead to the aforementioned analysis of sound capture on a Martian settlement.

Lastly I, Olympia Lebedev. Other settlers perceive me to be one who thinks at the higher, more complex levels of evaluating, analyzing, and creating. Perhaps that is because I have learned in all three Learning Realms on earth, focusing on the sciences. To put it plainly, it feels good to now be in Learning Realm Four on Mars, where I’m well prepared to learn through exploration.

Project Substratum was a great and humbling experience. No matter how much information I believe my education gave me, there’s always more to explore. There are essential pieces of information that we need to sustain life on the Port: food, shelter, repair, medicine, oxygen. Those SPELLs in the Research Wing that contain that information will always be in rotation. But I hope to start building the foundation of a world that won’t need those SPELLs so often. So settlers can explore the other SPELLs the Research Wing has to offer, the ones I’ve had the privilege to explore these past 15 weeks.

Over the past months, there have been meetings and meetings talking about rations and organizations of the pods. Meetings that refresh our memories with key survival information that was ingrained into our minds before we landed on Mars and what we will continue to be reminded of for the rest of our lives here. Improved sustainability and survivability has been the main objective of the Port since its inception. But someday, when the Port won’t need to be repaired so frequently, settlers like the creative Edison can explore more on this red planet than solely surviving on it.

I remember when I was interviewed for settlement, how I told them my educational background and my family history of scientific achievement. Then they asked me what I want to be remembered for as one of the original settlers of Generation Zero. And despite everything I’ve learned on all my sols here on the Port, the answer remains the same, “I want Mars to be not only a planet that humans can inhabit, but a planet where humans can live.”

I don’t mean to repeat myself, this is just the first time in a very long time where it feels like this is an attainable future for the Port.

Onto the next step in my Martian career: Project Unearthing.


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