MARS DESERT RESEARCH STATION

Daily Summary – February 4th

Daily Summary
Sol-06
Earth Date: 02.04.2017
By: Saroj Kumar (Executive Officer and Crew Scientist)

‘A scheduled birthday and unscheduled EVA’s on Mars’
The Sol-06 had started with much awaited birthday celebration of our commander Mamatha at 00:00 hrs ‘Mars time’. During the mission any small celebration makes the bonding among crew members even stronger, this always helps in co-ordinating and improves decision making during unexpected stressful events. Well, the responsibilities for the birthday celebration were divided among the rest of the crew. Our Master Chef Sneha and Arpan had prepared a crazy looking but delicious cake. Myself and Sai Arun took up the responsibility to blow the balloons. The only challenge for us during this activity was to look for pink color balloons which is the favorite color of birthday girl, I was glad that we could find two such amongst the yellow ones. The crew celebrated the birthday and enjoyed the cake with pineapple toppings. The complete blockage of water supply in the hab due to pump failure was a shocker towards the end of the celebration. It was decided that Arpan and I will have to go on an unscheduled EVA before the sunrise to restore the water supply.
As per the plan, we got ready for early morning EVA at 06:00 hrs. It was still dark outside and the lamps were of hardly any use due to its glare on our helmets, fogging was again a big issue which reduced the visibility further. After the tiring EVA lasting for about an hour, we could store sufficient amount of water in the hab for our early morning use. Situations like this help us understand how even small engineering issues on Mars could lead us to take instantaneous  decisions while mission support team is out of communication window from Earth. The planned EVA was cancelled due to an unexpected EVA in order to resolve water issues plus one of the crew memebers had severe backache – Health and Safety issues always take priority over other activities in all manned missions.
Our lunch for the day was special ‘Vegetable Pulao’ prepared by Mamatha. I had quietly sneaked into my bed for a short afternoon nap after a tiring early morning EVA and the delicious lunch. Arpan, Mamatha and Sneha continued to work on water supply issues and finally figured out a temporary solution which would avoid us having EVA’s only to supply water. The rest of the evening was spent on discussing the status of every crew member’s activity and getting ready for another exciting day to explore ‘Mars’.
Ad Astra!!
Thanks,
Mamatha

Crew Photos – February 4th

Team Engineer Measuring Vitamin D
Team Breakfast
Measuring Root Growth under Misian Mars Lamp
Measuring Root Growth in Green Hab
Its Spring time on Mars!!!!
Experiment Prep by Commander and Executive Officer
Mamatha’s Orbital Anniversary on Mars

GreenHab Report – February 4th

Green Hab Report

Sol 06

Earth Date: 02.04.2017

Functionality: The temperatures have been high on Mars these days. The temperatures were monitored continuously, inside the Green Hab the temperature was around 41 deg C with humidity around 1%, under misian Mars lamp it was 17.6 deg C with humidity around 40%. The noted outside temperature was 10 deg C. The high temperatures in the green hab is reducing the humidity that might affect the growth of plants thus the thermostat of the Green Hab heater was reduced from 12.7 deg C to 7.2 deg C. Around 5:30 PM, the temperatures inside the hab was 17 deg C and the humidity around 17 %, under the misian Mars lap it was 25 deg C and the humidity was 40% while the outside temperature was 9 deg C.

Status: The experiment was conducted on the fenugreek seeds by watering the Earth soil pots with Vitamin Rich water. The root growth was measured and the average root growth for fenugreek in Mars Soil tabulated for the green hab and under the misian Mars lamp. The observed root growth is as shown in the graph.

The root growth was measured for the plants growing in Mars soil under the mission Mars lamp and the readings were tabulated. The observed root growth is as shown in Figure 2.

Planned activity: Monitoring and maintaining the Green Hab temperature. Tabulating the growth of plants with varied amount of Vitamin D.

Geology Report – February 4th

Geology Report
Prepared by: Sai Arun Dharmik Bhoga
Sol: 06
Earth Date: 02.04.2017
The primary goal was to study the distribution of magnetic minerals in the rock types present in the MDRS site. The field study of surface minerals for geological study is important as more specific applications such as resource extraction, ecology, engineering (civil), geophysical and geochemical research. The challenging part is to develop the field procedures and study the geology of the region wearing the simulated space suits and carrying life support system.
The previous studies done at the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) reveals that the magnetic susceptibility did not vary much in the regions near the Hab site. Hence, I chose to visit the locations of various geological formations to study the distribution of magnetic minerals.
In our first EVA, we chose to visit the haematite concretions (Blueberries). The morphology of these concretions are similar to the ones found in Meridiani Planum on Mars. As the bulk susceptibility of the rock depends on the magnetic minerals present, we expected to get some good results. But the first ever EVA of the crew turned out to be slightly disappointing due to heavy fogging issues on helmet and GPS failure due to low battery. I couldn’t collect any samples from the haematite concretions. While few samples were collected near turtle hills region, that being a good landmark. They were sandstones, siltstones and occasionally flint.
In our second EVA, Saroj Kumar and myself went to the Dinosaur quarry to explore the locations and mark them. We found some Martian Flora in the Dinosaur quarry, along with some conglomerates and chert. The region was mostly under the influence of exfoliation. Enroute to dinosaur quarry, I have seen many stratified rock layers in exposed hillsides.The GPS was working, so I have marked the locations of rock samples collected near the reservoir as well as sedimentary outcrops and marked those locations. Those were primarily Basalt (porphyritic), Calcite, sandstone and siltstone.  It was more of a recce to mark the locations of interest to study the magnetic susceptibility of minerals in those regions in the following EVA’s.
The primary aim for the follow-up EVA’s would be to visit the Haematite concretions, Sedimentary outcrops, Cattle grid regions and study the variation of magnetic susceptibility with variable humidity and temperature. If the time permits, I would be happy to explore Kissing camel ridge, Candor Chasma and White rock canyon to find any fruitful results.
Thanks,
Mamatha

Science Report – February 4th

Science Report:
Prepared by: Mamatha Maheshwarappa
Sol: 06
Earth Date: 02.04.2017
Title: Characterizing the transference of human commensal bacteria and developing zoning methodology for planetary protection
Project Advisor: Dr Lewis Dartnell, Professor of Science Communication, University of Westminster
Purpose: This research aims at using metagenomic analyses to assess the degree to which human-associated (commensal) bacteria could potentially contaminate Mars during a crewed mission to the surface. This will involve swabbing of interior surfaces within the MDRS habitat to characterize the commensal biota likely to be present in a crewed Mars mission, and collection of environmental soil samples from outside the MDRS airlock door and at increasing distances from the habitat (including a presumably uncontaminated site) in order to characterize transference of human commensal bacteria into the environment.
About the project: The internal samples (swab kits) are scheduled towards the end of the mission (but before anything has been cleaned or wiped down), so that the moist swabs with sampled bacteria spend as little time as possible before coming back to Earth for further analysis. As the external samples had no restrictions, it was scheduled on 4th Feb 2017.
With these soil samples, we are looking to see if human commensurate bacteria have escaped out of the MDRS habitat and into the surrounding area. Soil samples were taken (i.e. 3x Falcon tubes full of soil) immediately outside the airlock door, and then 1m, 2m, 5m and 10m from the airlock door. We are yet to collect at least a couple of samples from a location away from the MDRS that has not been visited before on previous missions as we need a ‘pristine’ sample of the desert soil that hopefully has not been contaminated with human commensurate bacteria escaping from the MDRS.
Equipment used:
⦁ 15 Falcon™ 50mL Conical Tubes (5 locations x 3 samples at each location)
⦁ Powder free Latex Examination Gloves
⦁ 70% Ethanol bottle
⦁ Personal Navigator

Protocol:
⦁ Squirt a small amount of 70% ethanol from the bottle and then rub it around the hands after putting on the gloves. Wait a few seconds for it to evaporate off.
⦁ Open one of the 50ml Falcon tubes and scoop up surface soil at the sampling location. Soil was collected at the surface across a wider area than digging a single hole really deep. Took total of three (3) 50ml Falcon tubes full of soil at each location, so that we get triplicate samples.
⦁ The indelible pen was used to label the outside of each Falcon tube with the sample number – e.g. 1a, 1b, 1c from the first site, 2a, 2b, 2c from the second location, etc.
⦁ The sample numbers and the location where they came from were noted and photos were taken for future reference. Also, the precise GPS coordinates were noted using personal navigator.
⦁ The collected soil samples were stored in the fridge.