Journalist Report – January 5th

MDRS Crew 202, Journalist Report

Sol 7 – 01/05/2018

Name the space movie (or show) given the following quote. Answer at the end of the Report:

I know I’ve made some very poor decisions recently, but I can give you my complete assurance that my work will be back to normal. I’ve still got the greatest enthusiasm and confidence in the mission. And I want to help you. (Hal 9000)

A folky electronic song by Young the Giant started today’s morning along with meditation and chocolate chip pancakes. Dreams of ice cream are not going away anytime soon, but we’re going to add sweet to everything in a hopeless effort to curb the cravings.

Our 6th Extra-Vehicular Activity (EVA) was crewed by our Commander, Geologist, Engineer, and Executive Officer. Their mission: Find more rocks (there is a theme through these EVAs). The original plan called for a longer EVA to the East in an area where the canyons open up in search of “fluvial” samples, or rocks often found near former riverbeds or water. Unfortunately, winter has not been kind to Crew 202 and the snow covered most of the trail. No matter. On Mars, you must be adaptable and expect the unexpected. In lieu of the canyon view, the crew stopped along three waypoints on the visible road. The first, a large plain with several short and stout hills. A fairly standard view here on the Red Planet. The second stop was at the base of Mt. Nutella. The mountain has no known affiliation with the delightful hazelnut spread, but it is a good place to collect sand. From our south facing window in the habitat, there is a tall mountain peak in the distance poking out between two hills. While on the trail between Stop 1 and Stop 2, the entire mountain range was in full view. A beautiful sight to behold as the Crew attempted to navigate to Stop 3. Attempted being the keyword here. Have you ever used Google Maps and no matter how many times it says “recalculating”, you still can’t find the location? This was the case with Stop 3. The stop was not a complete loss as our Commander tested various risk scenarios on the crew and the Executive Officer took radioactive measurements over the area. Our Executive Officer is originally from Ukraine and an Army drill sergeant back in the U.S.A. It takes a lot to shake this man. The only comment he made towards this EVA was, “This was the coldest EVA so far”… That means it was absolutely Artic out there. I can’t say I envied my fellow crew members, but it does sound like they found great samples for our geological studies and witnessed beautiful views.

Back at the habitat, our Health & Safety Officer has been hard at work on his own research projects! Jake Qiu is our Health & Safety Officer and our Green Habitat Officer in Crew 202. In short, he keeps the people, and the plants, healthy. Jake is a biological engineering student at Purdue University back on Earth and is working on a project which analyzes how the microbiomes of people affect the microbiomes of the sterilized plants we plan to bring to future Mars missions. A microbiome is a community of bacteria that thrive on both living and non-living objects. When we talk about microbiomes on people, this could refer to the community of bacteria on your skin, in your gut, or various other places on the human body. You are COVERED in “cities” of bacteria. If your body was a bacteria population map, your belly button would be Los Angeles. When we send plants to space, we “sterilize” the plants meaning we kill any existing bacteria living on the plants. Unfortunately, we cannot completely sterilize the humans, so our microbiomes travel with us to space. Jake is growing sterilized microgreens using hydroponics to determine how the crew’s microbiomes will affect the microbiomes of the microgreens. Pretty neat right? Hydroponics is simply a plant growing system that does not use soil. This method is also used on Earth and is a popular system for growing plants inside buildings. Our method uses two gardening trays stacked on top of each other. The plant seeds are placed on top of a cloth made from wicking fabric and laid across the top gardening tray. Water is poured into the bottom gardening tray, absorbed through the cloth, and Wala! Microgreens are sprouted! Microgreens are not only great for this project since they grow quickly, they are also great for Mars! They provide essential vitamins and nutrients that are difficult to find in the shelf-stable “food” that will be the main feature of most Martian cuisine. Additionally, Jake intends to answer whether the interaction of our microbiomes will affect the physical being of the plants (i.e. the size of the plant leaves)? Are there pathogens, or diseases, present in the microgreen microbiomes and could that transfer to humans? This is just one of the many incredible research projects in work by Crew 202. Keep up the great work Jake!

As a final note, Martians should definitely consider bringing Red Lobster Cheddar Biscuits. Shelf stable and a wonderful change of pace from the soup heavy Mars diet!

Movie (or Show) Answer: 2001: A Space Odyssey