[Version française sur le site de La Recherche]
Friday, November 13th. “Cyprien… you might be interested in the news”. I understand from the tone of my crewmates that something bad is happening.
I open my laptop and find an email from a friend. Paris, my home city, is being attacked by terrorists. About 50 people have been killed, others are held hostage.
I immediately ask mission support for more information. By the time my email reaches them, 20 minutes later, other attacks happen. Mission support writes back, and I read their answer another 20 minutes later. The number of deaths is now over a hundred.
Has anyone from my family, or any of my friends, been killed? We cannot use a phone here, so I send a few emails. But I know I won’t get an answer that day: it is the middle of the night in Paris.
I feel alternatively sad and angry. Sometimes both at the same time. I need to move; I ride the stationary bike until my legs are burning.
Then I want to understand. Isolated in the dome, I didn’t even know that France was involved in Syria. I ask mission support for information on the attacks, on ISIS and, as I read and new questions come up, on more and more associated topics. For the first time since the beginning of the mission, I really miss the Internet.
In the following days, I receive many supportive emails from all over the world. From mission support, friends, family, acquaintances, and people I didn’t know. People send me updates on the events, kind words or simply photographs of buildings lit with the French colors.
Parisians write to me about how the victims’ families are supported, how they keep going outside, and how they refuse to change their daily activities in spite of the recommendations to stay home. The attacks seem to have created less fear than solidarity. I am proud of my city.
It is in this kind of moments that isolation is the toughest. In future missions to Mars, the events which most affect the crew might happen on Earth.