Mars Colony: Stage Two, Survival

The colony has been set up, the settlers have come to the planet and the challenge of survival has begun. The life support systems function well but we have the occasional noob (affectionate term for “I’ve never played this game before and I’m gonna twist knobs till something breaks”) will turn off the pumps. We try to train people as they come to the surface to minimize the damage.

Everyone has settled into a routine of checking the valves on the life support, cleaning the PV array and servicing the wind generators. Job one is to stay breathing and stay warm and we are all aware of the severe consequences of losing either. We got the software running on the main computer now and that has been a great help finding lost equipment, keeping track of the weather and communications.

The farm has provided a lot of work for the crew. Trying to balance the soil nutrients has been a bit of a challenge since the Martian dirt has no inherent value to a plant. The agriculture team has started to produce food now so that is a good sign. It seems the biggest issue we have there is making enough organic compost to keep the cycle working from seed to food and produce enough seed to plant the next round. We are using human waste mixed with plant material and some chemical seasoning to make our own fertilizer. We can’t forget our little friend the worm either. This little ground dweller has been our best friend. They really grind up the soil and finally someone found a recipe that makes them taste like chicken……

It took quite a while to get the fish tanks full of water and an even greater challenge to keep the water warm enough to hatch fish. One of the Hub units we call the Bio Lab is a magic place indeed. We have two tanks with fish and frogs to provide the colony with something other than salad. So far that is working well as long as we can keep the water from freezing. It takes a lot of power to keep that much water from being a block of ice. The Bio Lab is also home to the mushroom farm, the worm beds and some medical plants. We decided to keep the plants and animals separate for a couple of reasons. If either of the units failed in the early stages we would at least have a source for food with the other one and since this is such a closed system of air circulation we wanted to control any contamination that might occur.

The Mine Hub is where we keep all the drilling and mining equipment. There is a Laser Induced Breakdown Spectrometer in this unit that we use to test core samples. There are two ground penetrating radar units, two core drillers and two mining augers as portable equipment to gather samples, and extract minerals. This unit also houses the ore processing unit with a kiln and material separators. For now we have the machine shop set up in the west wing of this Hub since the production Hub equipment got destroyed during landing. We hope to have it online sometime this year or next depending on parts.

The shuttle pad will be finished soon and we can’t wait for care packages from home. As you might guess the mail here is rather slow. Everything from Earth is routed through the main colony then when and if we can get a shuttle up this way we can get fresh supplies.

The Main Hub is where we sleep and play when we get the chance. This unit is also home to the repair shop for most of the equipment. All the pumps, condensers, valves have spare parts in the Main Hub so it is a busy when things break. There is a Rover garage in the service module on the East side for fixing and or patching up the Rovers. They are strong little buggies but our colonists are determined to break them. One of the exciting events we have is the Rover Races. When all the work is done and we have some spare time we like to see who can get from point a to point b in the fastest time. Boys being boys are always up for a little challenge.

This may seem like a fictional tale but most of this is being done right now by the testers in Mars Colony Online. www.hyperkat.com/MarsOnline.html Yes all this is real. We have a online colony with around 50 users and they are building this colony. Every week we try to add new systems for testing and the gang at Hyperia Base go to work running the equipment, searching for ores, growing food and performing the general maintenance required to keep the colony going. We have had a few mishaps but for the most part the software is working well. I would like to thank the testers for the many hours they spend on the planet to help make this Simulation realistic and fun. Join the forums at www.hyperkat.com/litterbox and read up on the adventure.

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