MARS DESERT RESEARCH STATION

Commander Report – April 11th

Journalist report Sol 0 and Sol 1 – 170411
Mathieu « Mitch » Vander Donckt
Crew Journalist and Scientist
Crew 178

“Let it be” echoes in my dreams, and my eyes open. I’m in a small dark room. The light ray radiating from under the door illuminate the simply furnished room – a bed and a shelf – in which I was sleeping. My numbness is quickly replaced by excitement: I’m on Mars! The music was the wake-up signal given by Aurian aka “Boss”, the Crew Commander. The rising thrill is fed by the memories of yesterday, when we landed and saw the station with our own eyes for the first time: a circular habitation module connected by tunnels to a greenhouse, a laboratory, and a telescope. Of course, we saw photographs and sketches back on Earth during our training, but no media can pass the global picture or the feeling of this outpost in the middle of nowhere – or let’s say at the boundary of human influence.
We’re not the first crew to have the extraordinary opportunity to settle in this station, built a decade ago, but still we see ourselves as pioneers, eager to explore and analyse this hostile new world. The previous crew should have welcomed us and guided us before going to the departure station, and then home, our Earth. Unfortunately, they did go away a week ago in great urgency, which is really unusual – actually this is a first – for an interplanetary mission, where everything is planned for years and costs billions. But everyone is happy to be here and don’t want to think about that.
The absence of a previous crew brought its own difficulties. Such a station needs a maintenance every day. This is the job of Damien or “Hoover”, the Crew Engineer, who is charged with the upkeep and reparation of all systems, one of the most important being our water supply. When we penetrated the station for the first time, the communication indicators flashed red, indicating a major problem. We had no link with Mission Control on Earth, which was indeed a problem. There is no colony on Mars, just a few scientific installations half-dependent of Earth like ours. Mission Control is of great support, can give us technical advice, supply us with food from orbital reserve if need be, and guide us from day to day. Without them we could run out of water or get caught in a deadly dust storm during Extra Vehicular Activity. The first task of Hoover was to repair the antenna linking us to a satellite, allowing us to communicate with Earth. An easy assignment for an experienced engineer, and a relief for all the crew.
Today all our systems are nominal – except hot water but it is not seen as an urgency –  and we are ready to accomplish our mission here. That begins with the exercises of Nathalie, “Coach”, who keeps us in shape and studies our muscular loss here where the gravitational field is a third of Earth’s. An amusing exercise for some, a torment for others. Anyway, a good physical condition is important.
Now, everybody is unpacking or preparing the experiments. We can’t anticipate what will come next, but we are all eager to make discoveries in our respective domains.

Sol Summary – April 11th

Summary Title: Technical setups for several experiments and first EVA

Mission Status:  Good

Sol Activity Summary:

We woke up today at 8 am. The Crew Astronomer and the Crew Commander broke the sim for two hours (10-12 am) in order to take the aerial delivery at Hollow Mountain (5 days of late) containing our scientific equipment. We shared meal at 1 pm (tomato soup with bread). The Crew Geologist and the Crew Scientist started their EVA at 2 pm and came back at 3.30 pm. In the meanwhile, the other crew members set up their experiment in the Hab and the Science Lab. The Crew Geologist prepared its plants launched the GreenHab activities. We had to do an emergency EVA (in spacesuits of course) to the Shannon’s trailer from 7 to 9 pm in order to start CapCom session. Indeed, some electronic devices probably consumed all the daily Internet data for this day, that is why we were constrained to exceptionally go to the Shannon’s trailer. At 6.30 pm, we started a group meeting to debrief the day and prepare the day of tomorrow, and also to disable all the electronic devices of each crew member to avoid any further problem with the daily Internet datas. After the evening meal, some of the crew members enjoyed a movie, while others continued to work.Look Ahead Plan: (How are you going to follow up?  What’s the plan for tomorrow?)

Anomalies in work: Internet data were consumed par mégarde

Weather: The beginning of the day started to be dégagé and clear. In the afternoon, some clouds added and the wind became more violent ???

Crew Physical Status: Everyone is fine

EVA: (where did you go?)

Reports to be file: Crew Engineer Report, Journalist Report,

Support Requested: The tunnel structure between the Hab and the Science Lab has suffered from heavy gusts of wind, it will be difficult

EVA Report – April 11th

Crew 178 EVA#1 Report 11 APR 2017

Weather: sunny, come clouds, wind
Temperature: around 25°C
Location: 12S0519254 UTM 4250772, elevation: 1365 m
Duration: 90 min
Team: Elke Mergny (crew geologist), Mathieu Vander Donckt (crew scientist)
Purpose:
–       Geophysical survey of the area with a ground penetrating radar.
–       Collections of ground samples for an analysis with a diffractometer
Outputs:
–       Ground penetrating radar: The survey wheel was calibrated and two profiles were collected.
–       Collections of ground samples: Three samples collected around the base.