The group gathers for a photo beside two of the convoy vehicles in the forecourt of the South Australian Museum. This is an historically significant place, the starting point for many scientific and exploratory expeditions including those of John Eyre and Douglas Mawson’s legendary trips to the Antarctic.
We had breakfast in the Museum Cafe beside fascinating collections of whale bones, followed by a briefing from Jason Hoogland, Technical Director of MSA and field trip leader Dr Jonathan Clarke.
For those of us who weren´t experienced in camping in the outback, discussions of the frequency of shower facilities and the need to avoid stepping over objects without checking that they weren’t a snake having a snooze, were a high priority!
The rest of us were just trying to absorb getting to know each other and sharing experiences and stories of field trips, science - and space!
The convoy looks spectacular with the logos of Mars Society Australia and the UK Starchaser organisation, our major sponsor for the expedition. Members of the public wander over to check it out and a TV crew arrive to interview some of the science party - NASA's Dr Carol Stoker, Dr Larry Lemke, and Prof Vic Gostin of Adelaide University.
Jon Clarke tries out the satellite phone - it works but our email access doesn't look a goer at this stage. We have a few backup options, including faxing from towns we pass through.
Last night's forum in Adelaide attracted a small but enthusiastic group to hear presentations by Dr Carol Stoker, who spoke of the reasons we should explore Mars, Dr Mark Bishop from the University of South Australia who spoke on Martian geomorphology, and Jason Hoogland, who took us through the MSA technical programme and the expedition.
As Mark Bishop said when looking at a photo of the surface of Mars, "It's beautiful! Look at it! So let's go there!"