Journalist Report- January 3rd

[Sol 3]

Today’s EVA was as rewarding and productive as it was grueling. A team of four of us departed the airlock just after 10:30 am and embarked on an epic trek far to the east beyond the bounds explored by any previous crew.

Oh what they have been missing!

An hour of driving brought our rovers to the end of drivable path. From there we continued on foot to the northeast of the Maxwell Montes until we once again reached an impasse. This time: a sheer cliff overlooking a spectacular network of canyons stretching as far as the eye could see! But the real treat were the walls of exposed strata. A hundred feet tall, no less! Though our objective was simply a preliminary survey, I reckon that the crew geologist will soon be back to scrutinize the story contained within the jumbled concoction of earthy hues.

The walk back to our rovers was arduous in the sun and stagnant air, but the EVA team summoned its second wind and proceeded directly into the radio navigation experiment. We drove approximately halfway back to the habitat before splitting into pairs and parting ways. The commander, Max Fagin, and myself were one pair. We dismounted the rovers while the crew engineer, Melanie Grande, and executive officer, Kshitij Mall, returned to the habitat to continue maintenance on the main airlock.

As the two rovers rocked and bounced their way up the dirt path, the commander and I steeled ourselves for the long walk back to the hab. But rather than follow the road, we would be taking a more direct route: one guided through unfamiliar terrain by Morse tones broadcast from the hab and received by us on a utilitarian antenna. It worked perfectly. Homing in on the hab’s beacon, we returned with time enough to spare for many photos. When we at last entered the airlock the elapsed time was nearly 4 and half hours. Grueling indeed!

Back at hab, the crew engineer has been working hard to master the quirks of our fickle generator. The dwindling supply of nutella has also begun to bring out the worst in us. But spirits are high, and our geologist, Cesare Guariniello, has baked a delectable cake in celebration of our green hab scientist’s birthday.

Justin Mansell, MDRS Crew 186 Journalist

P.S. Photos attached. Photo of the day: 521750_4255200 03Jan2018 Stunning strata.jpg

Operations Report – January 3rd

Crew 186 Operations Report 03JAN2018

SOL: 03

Name of person filing report: M. Grande

Non-nominal systems: Generator power system

Notes on non-nominal systems:

Bad news followed by good news, so hang in there, please. The generator failed sometime this morning, which was pretty spiteful of it. I went out through the engineering airlock to check that it was still running at 4am and at 6am, mostly out of concern for our HSO/Biologist’s experiment running out in the Science Dome. With a long continuous runtime for the stage of his experiment last night, it was absolutely critical he didn’t lose power, so I wanted to keep a sharp eye on those batteries. At 8:40am, however, after a nice morning yoga session with Kshitij and the crew, the generator read “Failure, Under speed, 8:12 am Jan 03”. And the SOC had dropped critically to 35%. We previously believed that the clock on there was not correct, but still, the generator was off for a maximum of 2:40 hrs while everyone was mostly asleep and very little power was being drawn. So I gave those Solar System batteries a stink eye, because they really quit out on us, dropping like that.

The good news is that the new 9/17 battery showed full charge based on a green light on the charger, and it ran smoothly in the generator all day. (I gave the solar system a day off, despite the sun shining here on Mars.) Additionally, this evening the generator was running almost exactly at the design point! Perfectly 12.0 V, 1800 rpm, and 60.1 Hz. I did switch to the 10/17 battery for tonight again, though, so that I prevent too great of a discharge on the new battery and give it the full night to recharge.

Generator (hours run): (10/17, estimated) 13h; (9/17) 9.7h

Generator turned off, charging battery at 8:00am

Generator turned on at 5:50pm

Solar— SOC

@ 8:40am : 35%

@ 6:25pm : 99%

Diesel: 60%

Propane: 37%

Ethanol Free Gasoline (5 Gallon containers for ATV): 09 Gallons

Water (trailer): 10 Gallons

Water (static): 391 Gallons

Trailer to Static Pump used: No

Water (loft) – Static to Loft Pump used: Yes

Water Meter: 128991.9 Gallons

Toilet tank emptied: Yes

ATVs Used: None

Oil Added? No

ATV Fuel Used: 00 Gallons

# Hours the ATVs were used today: 00:00 hours

Notes on ATVs: Justin and Shannon both took some time today to ride the Yamaha 300 around, as requested by CapCom/Shannon yesterday. We were looking for any sluggishness, especially in changing the gears. It took some coaxing to start it up, Justin said, and the response was delayed as he started driving it around. This effect did decrease as he continued to drive it around, which is a good sign I think. We will make a point to continue to drive it, and I will take it out tomorrow on EVA.

Deimos rover used: Yes

Hours: 97.4

Beginning charge: 100%

Ending charge: 96%

Currently charging: Yes

Sojourner rover used: Assigned to director only.

Hours: 5.1

Beginning charge: 96%

Ending charge: 100%

Currently charging: No

Spirit rover used: Yes

Hours: 8.7

Beginning charge: 100%

Ending charge: 72%

Currently charging: Yes

Opportunity rover used: No

Hours: 4.3

Beginning charge: 100%

Ending charge:

Currently charging: No

Curiosity rover used: No

Hours: 3.1

Beginning charge: 100%

Ending charge:

Currently charging: No

HabCar used and why, where? No

General notes and comments:

Today was a just beautiful EVA day! Amazing views of the lumpy red mesas, endless plains, and even a small box canyon with amazingly sharp stratified layers! I drove one of the Polaris electric rovers for the first time, which was definitely fun, and I appreciate being able to take a longer trip today. But my heart still lies with the ATVs.

In other thrilling Engineering News, I fixed the front door handle with a silicon gun I found in the tool cabinet, emptied the toilet, and added a couple more things to my ‘To Do’ list. The Science Door lock keeps falling apart, so I’ll take a closer look tomorrow morning. I tried checking out the Engineering Airlock door for some loose bolts or bending or something, but unfortunately it is the actual design of that massive door which makes it so darned difficult. So vexing.

Summary of internet: All nominal

Summary of suits and radios: All nominal

Summary of Hab operations: All nominal

Summary of GreenHab operations: All nominal

Summary of ScienceDome operations: All nominal

Summary of RAM operations: Not operational yet!

Summary of health and safety issues: Crew is healthy and well-exercised

Questions, concerns and requests to Mission

Support: Commander Max and I discovered a kink in the fuel line to the generator and also a water leak under the front hab stairs. The water leak does not have a clear source, since the hab is raised, but it does seem to have stopped and dried up a little since yesterday. I’ve attached three photos. Please let me know what you think should be done.


EVA Report – January 3rd

Author: Max Fagin

Purpose of EVA: Photographic survey and geological samples of the previously unexplored region to the North East of Maxwell Montes, direction radio experiment, Ham radio repeater communications testing

Destination: North East of Maxwell Montes

UDM27 Coordinates:

521750 E

4254500 N

Participants: Max Fagin, Kshitij Mall, Melanie Grande, Justin Mansell

Narrative: The region to the North East of Maxwell Montes had been indicated to us as a region that no MDRS crew had ever explored. Far be it from us to turn down a chance to go boldly where no one has gone before, we had to perform a photographic survey and bring back some samples to plan for a more detailed investigation later in our mission. And the region did not disappoint. After a 55-minute rover ride followed by a 40-minute hike, we reached the edge of a box canyon which contained a stratified cut covering 50-million years of the Jurassic, so perfectly formed it could be in a textbook (see our photo of the day). The long range of the EVA meant we could only spend 45 minutes on site collecting samples and taking photographs, but we have resolved to return to the region before our mission is over. Next time, we will come armed with two tools we didn’t have this time: 1) Our crew geologist, 2) A mapped out route for getting to the bottom of the canyon to see prehistory up close.

Throughout this EVA, we communicated both through the regular MDRS commercial radios, and through the Hanksville ham radio repeater. Both communication methods had dropouts, but the dropouts rarely overlapped, serving as an effective backup to each other as a way to maintain contact with the hab and the EVA team. This exact solution cannot be implemented on Mars, but a ham radio repeater is a fair analog for the site-to-site communications loop in place through a synchronous communications satellite. A colleague once told me that you can fix any problem with a spacecraft as long as you still have communications and power, and future Mars explorers will likely rely on multiple redundant modes of communication to keep that truism true.

Given our experience from the previous EVA, we elected to make this EVA with the 4 exo-suits, rather than the traditional MDRS suits. They met and exceeded our expectations for remaining comfortable for a long EVA, and the rest of the crew are eager to try them out. Having zero load on our shoulders is a welcome relief, and the limiting factor was really how long you could have your head in the suit without scratching your nose or taking a drink.

On the latter matter (thirst), we tested out a partial solution. It is our crew’s policy to carry a case of water with us in the rover’s trunk on EVAs to treat any case of dehydration. Drinking such water would be breaking sim as we would have to doff the suits to drink it. However, the ability for an EVA suit to provide the occupant with a drink without doffing the suit is already existing technology, we simply haven’t implemented it at MDRS yet. The neck ring design of the old MDRS suits makes the use of a camelback a bit ungainly, but the exosuits are perfectly shaped for it. By feeding the tube of my camelback through the vent in the suit and securing it with a twist tie, I was able to keep the port within easy reach of my mouth for the entire EVA. This solution can’t be permanent, as it would require MDRS participants to share camelbacks, but I have extensively photographed the solution and will be taking it back to the NorCal Mars Society as a proposal to try in future suits (perhaps if MDRS participants wanted to bring their own camelback). I certainly appreciated it.

On the way back, Kshitij and Melanie dropped us off at a point where we had identified on the way out, and proceeded back to the hab. Justin took out his direction radio beacon, and I faded into the background as he began his “lost astronaut” experiment. Using a Yagi antenna to determine his bearing on the hab, he began walking in the general direction while I shadowed him with a gps to check his route. After stopping 3-4 times to recover his bearings and making his way through a narrow canyon where the signal was interrupted, we climbed a hill and spotted the hab directly ahead of us in the distance! This was just a preliminary test, as we both had a fair idea of where the hab was, but on future EVAs, the test will become more challenging, eventually culminating with the test subject starting from a location where they don’t know their bearing on the hab.

Extra commendations to our EVA controller Cesare, for managing three radios while we were out and about, and finding time to suit up and join us for a 1 hour “get ahead” engineering EVA that we began when we found ourselves back at the hab an hour earlier than expected.

Note on our route: We misread the map legend indicating which roads were for PEVs (the rovers) and which were limited to ATVs. We took the rovers north along Cow Dung Rd, East along Galileo Rd and stopped where the foot travel only section began at the intersection of Cactus Rd. and Yellow Zebra Rd., near 522000 E 4253000N, before dismounting to walk the rest of the way to the site. After returning, we realized that Cactus Rd. was marked for ATVs only, and not for PEV travel. Apologies for the mistake, we are clear on the distinction now, and on our next visit, we will only take ATVs to the dismount point.

Sol Summary Report – January 3rd

Crew 186 Sol 03 Summary Report 03JAN2018

Sol 03

Summary Title: Where No One Has Gone Before But Many Will Soon

Author’s name: Max Fagin (Commander)

Mission Status: Firmly into the routine of exploring Mars, even though there is nothing routine about it!

Sol Activity Summary: We began with a marathon 4.5 hour EVA to a previously unexplored region near Maxwell Montes, leading to a remarkable box canyon with perfectly vertical stratified layers (see our Photo of the day). On the way back, we split up and successfully tested the navigation beacon meant to help a lost astronaut find their way back to the hab in poor visibility conditions. We also had our first successful use of the Hanksville Repeater “communication satellite” on EVA to bridge some of the regions where direct communication between the Hab and the EVA team was otherwise not possible. This was the first EVA to use all exo-suits, and they performed well beyond expectations (see EVA report). The evening discussion was occupied by important philosophical issues like whether ‘Dune” was best described as “Game of Thrones in Space” or if Game of Thrones was better described as “Dune in the Middle Ages.” Today is GreenHab Officer Mark’s birthday! Celebrations are planned for tonight to commemorate his becoming a preteen (in Mars years anyway).

Look Ahead Plan: Tomorrow is a medium length Geology EVA to White Moon, Beach Moon and Yellow Moon to the north of the hab. The Phoenix rover will also be put to work around the campus.

Anomalies in work: Kinked fuel line running from the generator and apparent leak from under the Hab (see support requested and Operations report)

Weather: 0C, Wind calm, Visibility 10 miles, Barometer 30.31 inHg

Crew Physical Status: Healthy

EVA: North East of Maxwell Montes, 4.5 hours, photographic survey and geological sampling

Reports to be filed: Sol Summary, Journalist Report, Greenhab Report, EVA #3 Report, EVA #4 Request, EVA #3 Request (see Commander’s note)

Support Requested: We discovered a kinked fuel line by the generator and an apparent water leak coming from under the hab near the EVA airlock porch. Photos are attached to the operations report, please advise if these need repair.


Commanders Note: There was a communication slip on our end last night. We realized after we got back from EVA #3 today that the sol summary indicated the EVA #3 request was ready, but that it never actually got transmitted, nor did it get approved. We did discuss the intended target with Shannon in the Sol summary email thread, and clarified our intended target, but the actual EVA #3 request did not get submitted, nor was its absences noted by any of us until this evening. EVA #3 took place today as we intended, but without the EVA #3 request having been submitted, we realize mission control had no written record of our intentions, a potentially hazardous situation. We are forwarding the (now obsolete) EVA #3 request which we did not submit from last night, along with a summary of EVA #3, and a request for tomorrows EVA #4. We’re sorry it took us 24 hours to notice the omission.

Science Report – January 3rd

Imagine that you are planning an expensive trip to a remote, amazing location that you always dreamed about. A couple of days before your trip, already with your enthusiasm through the roof, you pack your bags with clothing, some electronics and a few treats. Then, you call the agency to discuss the final details, and they tell you that you will be able to drive your vehicle there, and you are welcome to sleep in it. The location is so remote that they do not have any building available for you. In addition, they cannot provide any water. Ah, and there is no gas station anywhere near.

You think a little bit, and realize that this means that you will have to carry with you all the water you need to stay there, and all the gas you need to come back. Furthermore, if you want to sleep in anything better than your car or a tent, you will need to bring with you all the materials to build a better habitat. Obviously, this solution is going to be very expensive because your car will not be enough to transport all of that: you will need a large truck, or maybe multiple vehicles.

However, you have always been quite brilliant, and you think of a possible solution that will allow you to still take your trip, at the cost of a little extra effort: you could figure out if there are water sources at your destination, maybe with the help of your friends who know some geology and some chemistry. Likewise, you decide that you might modify your car and make it capable of using some fuel that you will be able to find or produce at your destination. And if you could also find some building material, then you would need to carry only a few extra tools, but your car would still be enough to reach that breathtaking place!!! The beauty of this place, and the awe you will feel once you are there, are totally worth the work required to make the trip feasible.

This is exactly what all of the people involved in the effort of Mars exploration are doing. It is called ISRU, which stands for In-Situ Resource Utilization. It means that we will not carry everything we need with us, but we will study our destination, figure out what we can find or produce there, and how to do it. The geology research performed by crew 186 is supporting the study of potentially useful materials for ISRU on Mars. In particular, the crew is studying minerals that have been detected on Mars and that are used on Earth for construction and other applications (kaolinite, gypsum), in addition to materials that have geological interest (hematite spherules, sulfates) and occur in the same location. This is suggesting what ISRU materials could be find in regions of potential interest for human landing on Mars, and it will guide the choice of tools for collection of such materials.

The Geology report on Sol 1 described the goal of the geology project of crew 186 in technical details. Future reports will combine technical results and descriptions with other non-technical explanations (similar to this report) of the reasons for the research we do towards our common objective, so stay tuned!!!

Cesare Guariniello, PhD


Greenhab Report – January 3rd

GreenHab Report

Mark Gee


Environmental control: Heating, Cooling with fan and vent, open door.

Measurement Hour: 06:20 PM

Inside temp at measurement hour: 16 C

Outside temp during measurement hour: -2 C

Inside temperature high: 32 C

Inside temperature low: 14 C

Inside humidity: 21 %RH

Inside humidity high: 30 %RH

Inside humidity low: 16 %RH

Hours of supplemental light:

For the crops 05:00 to 11:59 PM

Changes to crops: Heat stress in several plants due to temperature extremes. Extra water was given to these plants. A small moth was flying in the habitat.

Daily water usage for crops: 7 gallons

Time(s) of watering for crops: 10:30AM, 06:30PM

Research observations: The microgreen seeds have been covered with plastic wrap and well watered to keep the moisture in. They are beginning to germinate and some have opened their cotyledons. No greening is observed. Brown stains, possibly algea, are forming on the capillary mats of the soil-free trials. Temperature extremes were recorded and may have a negative impact on plant growth.

Moringa seeds have not sprouted. The tomatoes watered with moringa extract are growing well.

Changes to research plants: None.

Aquaponics: Not set up.

Narrative: The sun was shining bright and cheerful all day long. You might think this would be a good thing for plants growing in a greenhouse, but you would be wrong. After helping send off the EVA crew in the morning, I walked to the Green Hab and found several cucumber, tomato, and bean plants wilting. The strong sunlight caused the environment to heat to 32C (90F) which is a stressful temperature for potted plants with limited water. I immediately watered the plants that needed moisture and tried to find a way to release some heat. The outside temperature was near freezing, but opening the door did not release enough heat to keep up with the greenhouse effect. I turned on the fan to the maximum setting, but the cold air blew in so quickly that the plants near the fan reacted poorly. At the lowest setting, the air circulation was not enough to cool the far end of the habitat. I spent some hours adjusting the fan, door, and vent while moving the thermometer around the greenhouse to try and find a way to keep the whole habitat at a reasonable temperature. This was even more challenging because only one half of the building is covered by a shade cloth. Covering or uncovering the entire habitat would make thermal control much easier. What seemed to work best for now was setting the fan on low, opening the vent on the far end of the greenhouse, and keeping the door closed. This kept the temperature near 25 C throughout the habitat. Adjustments will be needed as the outside temperatures change. The increased air circulation means the crops will use more water, but thirsty crops are better than no crops.

Support/supplies needed: Shade cloth for the second half of the Green Hab. Do we need to do something for insect control? What is the threshold for action?