MARS DESERT RESEARCH STATION

Crew Photos – February 6th

Saroj and Arpan post soil samples collection

 

Saroj and Arpan collecting soil samples

 

Arpan and Sneha discussing about interesting Martian rocks

 

Picture depicting river bed near Mount Sharp on Mars

Journalist Report – February 6th

Weekly Journalist Report
Prepared by: Arpan Vasanth (Crew Journalist)
Sol: 08
Earth Date: 02.06.2017
For many, a space trip begins with the launch and ends with the re-entry footages of the launch vehicle. But this merely is the tip of a spear. The reality is every manned mission is a complex and intertwined operation!
 
Dick Costolo (CEO, Twitter) quotes “Timing, perseverance and ten years of trying will is all it takes to make you look like an overnight success”. Astronauts are the perfect example for the amount of practice and dedication that goes into before each and every mission.
We had set out for such an epic experience to Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) to seek perfection and it has been already a week here on Mars. As the time progressed the team has mastered the approach for Martian life, be it simple things like covering plates with aluminium foils to save water or walkie talkie operations. The life on Mars so far has taught us the hard way to live and made each individual stronger in the way we approach bigger issues. I still recap struggling to suit up for the first EVA and the ease with which it’s been done now. Thus the odds of us being able to last or outlast are greatly improved over our chances of survival for this week as well.
Although the first week did not start with all the team members on board/test kits not arriving on-time, it ended on a good note! The team coped up well with the surprises and now most of the things have fallen into place. The botany experiment is promising and we have started to observe good shoot and root growth. The sample collections for the geology research is progressing amidst the difficulty of getting in and out the exact Extra Vehicular Activity (EVA) site. The planetary protection experiment comprises of two parts, the first one is to observe the contamination outside the hab and the second one is to find out within the hab. The first part has been successfully completed and the team is planning to wind up the second set of activities towards the end of this week.
Apart from technical work, the team had a very good time be it early morning briefings/breakfast preparation/breakfast discussions/recalling previous day blunders/EVAs/lunch time laughter’s/debriefing/evening cup of tea/usual deny of physical fitness activity from our biologist Sneha/7PM – 9PM intense CapCom sessions wherein commander will be glued onto chair like an idol/dinner preparations/planning next day activities. Although Martian day is slightly longer than that of the Earth’s day, the time here passes quickly and we have entered the final week of our mission.
Last weekend was a special one as our commander Mamatha celebrated her orbital anniversary on Mars! The whole team had planned for her special celebration, the master chef Sneha had baked a delicious pineapple cake! The midnight celebration was supposed to be a surprise one however, around 11 PM the crew scientist Saroj almost woke up Mamatha by bursting a balloon while decorating the hab. Somehow we managed the celebration as planned and the crew savoured the cake!
Sunday was the most exciting day as I planned my first drone experiment along with Sneha and Mamatha to help understand EVA scenario beforehand, after months of preparations to get the right equipment I was very eager to fly it on Mars for the first time! Luckily the drone could connect to a lot of satellites, after careful pre-flight checks it was time to fly! Two beautiful ladies were up the small hill for a couple of high elevation footages and photo sessions towards the end of the EVA!
As Nick Woodman (CEO GoPro) quotes “I feel like in a world where we all try to figure out our place and our purpose here, your passions are one of the most obvious guides”. Following our most obvious guides, we are here to absorb the most of the Martian life!

EVA Report – February 6th

EVA Report:
SOL: 08
Date: 02/06/2017
Person filling out the report: Sai Arun Dharmik
Crew members involved in the EVA: Sai Arun Dharmik and Saroj Kumar
EVA leader: Sai Arun Dharmik
Begin: 09:45 am
End: 01:20 pm
Type of EVA: Walking + Driving (Phobos)
Purpose: Collection of rock samples to measure their magnetic susceptibility.
UTM Coordinates: Northing: 4253250 Easting: 518600 Zone/Sector: 12S
Northing: 4252800  Easting: 518400
Summary: The sixth EVA was to collect the rock samples from the Sedimentary outcrops. The sky was cloudy and the wind speed was pretty high when we started the EVA. We reached the Sedimentary outcrops where we found basalt amidst conglomerates, breccia and sandstone. We moved on to the second location, where we found sandstones as expected. Later, we climbed a hill ahead of the reservoir dam and we found a beautiful view of the martian landscape. The wind speed was around 55mph and one of the crew member was feeling uneasy, hence we decided to cut short the EVA and reached the Hab.

Crew Photos – February 6th

Commander inspecting plants under the misian Mars lamp

 

Early morning pre EVA discussions

 

Saroj Kumar excited for EVA

 

Our Crew Scientist, Saroj Kumar gearing up for an EVA

 

Martian (Saroj Kumar) inspecting EVA site

 

Martian securing the hab static tank against strong winds

Sol Summary – February 6th

Sol Summary:
Prepared by: Saroj Kumar
Sol: 08
Earth date: 02.06.2017
‘Survival against martian storm’
One amongst many challenges the astronauts would face on Mars will be to survive the dust storms which occur about once in two years and last for many months. These storms are so huge that it can even be observed from Earth. We faced the similar condition today where unexpectedly the wind speeds were pretty high than usual. The crew could hear loud sound of wind hitting the hab ‘windows’ early in the morning.

The first activity for the day began as always is an early morning briefing at 0700 hrs, but actually some of us would be awake well before the dawn to get in touch with family and friends when the communication window with Earth is still open. The breakfast for the day was special ‘Aloo paratha’ (Potato stuffed Indian bread) with pickle and tea (a perfect north Indian ‘nashta’ :D) which was different from usual breakfast of cereals and powdered milk.

Soon after the breakfast, Arun and myself started preparing for our EVA. We had planned to visit four locations, which were sedimentary outcrops, reservoir dam, igneous field and candor chasma.
The moment we came out of the hab we realized that our exploration on Mars today will also include our fight against the heavy dust storm. We found sandstones and conglomerates in the region along with basalt. We also found a specific type of lichen in the sedimentary outcrop. We found that the name of the lichen is Heteroplacidum compactum as documented by one of the previous crews. As Arun worked on his geological study at sedimentry outcrop, I worked on the sampling protocols for planetary protection by testing the agility of my spacesuit. We also simultaneously discussed and tried to understand the kind of study and preparation required to do geological study on Mars. Around 12 noon, Arun started to feel uneasy after continuously working for about two hours and this made us decide to cut short our planned EVA. Upon our return to the hab, I was tasked to check the status of operations support equipment and this is when I found that due to heavy winds the tarpaulin on static water tank had almost flown away. Sneha joined me and we together placed the tarpaulin back on the static water tank by placing heavy rocks over and around the tank as a temporary solution.
The crew spent rest of the evening relaxing and had casual ‘Nitte’ discussions over chai. The dinner for the day is being prepared by Sneha and Arpan. Our tomorrow’s task will mainly be focused on outreach activities apart from conducting our regular experiments on Mars.
Ad Astra !!