Journalist Report – October 6th

Lindsay Rutter
Commander, Crew 228

We Areonauts followed all planetary protection directives set forth by COVID amendments to the COSPAR treaties. And we successfully prevented the spread of the terrestrial virus into a space virus. But no matter how careful we were, there was one pest that hitchhiked its way onto our spacecraft and now can never be stopped – the Dad joke.

Dad jokes cannot be sterilized. There are no vaccines for Dad jokes. They are extremophiles of the highest order, surviving anything you throw at them, including microgravity and radiation. This is unequivocal.

It all started soon after we exited the Karman line. A crew member (who requested anonymity) let out what was unmistakably a Dad joke. For the most part, we tactfully ignored it. Still, I can’t help but think most of the crew said a little prayer that night in their staterooms, hoping that would be the end of it.

As the solar days turn to solar months, it has become clear we will see no end to the Dad joke. A pattern has emerged. First, a crew member will slip out a Dad joke. Then, there is a moment of silence, followed by a cacophony of groans. Sometimes, the crew will clear the room, essentially imposing an unspoken quarantine on the source of the joke, who is left alone to reflect on how they are no Jerry Seinfeld.

We each have been that person. And we each have reflected in isolation. But still, the Dad jokes continue.

In a last-ditch bid to rid ourselves of the pest, we wrote down the worst Dad jokes that have been committed on Mars so far, and ran the paper through the compost shredder. But this purification ceremony only emboldened the Dad joke, which victoriously resurrected itself within minutes when a crew member blurted out an all-new-low variant of the offense.

We have since surrendered defeat to the Dad joke.

It is possible that, one day, the social contagion of the Dad joke will make the fateful leap from human beings to AI beings. And should the AI community recursively self-improve the cheesiness factor, it will emerge worse than what we can even imagine today. It will be so bad, it will be almost transcendentally bad. What happens at that point – to space exploration, to consciousness in the universe – awaits latently in the realms of science fiction. Only time will tell.

Today, I transmit a rather sobering report that the Dad joke will always go wherever humans go. And now that we humans have landed on Mars, it is here with us to stay.

What to make of this, I wonder? If we couldn’t leave the Dad joke behind, is it possible to prevent contaminating Mars with other human transgressions? The wars. The corruption. The pollution.

I can’t help but fret sometimes. I’m concerned.

Why, nice to meet you, concerned! I’m Dad!

Crew 228 Sol Summary October 6th

Sol: 9

Summary Title: Sim Nears End

Author’s name: David Laude (XO)

Mission Status: Nominal, Hab fully prepared for in-sim operations

Sol Activity Summary: The day started with breakfast pancakes made
by Dave, during which time was discussed how our daily routine will run for
the next few sols. Dave and Inga completed EVA #6 to Candor Chasma. Jin started working
on a special edition of the journalist report for the final soul. Jin and Inga also
have been working on chili for dinner. Some greens were harvested from the
GreenHab for consumption. Lindsay has been using a DNA sequencer to identify
organisms. She investigated two regolith samples and got very low DNA yield so far.
She will continue with additional samples to see if she can get better DNA yield.
Either way, she will determine if she can identify particular microbes from low DNA yield.

Look Ahead Plan: Tomorrow will have a 7-8 hour break in sim for Dave and Jin as Jin needs to take a Covid test ahead of his flight from Grand Junction to Canada and Dave with a US drivers license will drive him for the test. Travel will be by Crew Car to Fruita just west of Grand Junction. The crew’s sim will soon end as they will clean the station for the next crew this Friday and depart MDRS Saturday for home.

Anomalies in work: Radio failure in field issues mostly battery related. Crew Engineer Dave will conduct more battery tests in hopes of culling out some weak batteries. Tests are done by charging a battery and then with a radio set to high power transmit level the push to talk button is held down with a clamp. A timer is used to time when the battery indicator in the radio indicates a depleted battery.

Weather: High of 71F today, partly cloudy. increasing winds in the afternoon with gusts ~20-25 MPH.

Crew Physical Status: All crew nominal.

EVA: Eva #6 with Dave and Inga to Candor Chasma was fully successful. Returned to airlock within seconds of planned arrival.

Reports to be filed: Science, Photo, Sol, Journalist

Support Requested: None


Crew 228 Science Report October 6th

Crew 228 Science Report 06Oct2021

Crew Scientist / GreenHab Officer Inga Popovaite

Science Report


Today, Lindsay continued to investigate reddish-brown regolith she
collected along the slopes of the Jotunheim
structure, an inverted river bed located approximately two kilometers
North of the HAB at 38.41712 N, -110.78466 W (NAD27). The regolith
were collected from the same geographical feature sampled by Maggiori
et al. (2020), who confirmed the presences of microbes from all three
kingdoms of life, including extremophiles that could potentially
survive the harsh elements of the Martian environment, such as
psychrophiles, halophiles, and UV-resistant microorganisms. In the
ScienceDome, Lindsay extracted DNA using a Soil DNA Isolation
Plus Kit (Product #64000, Norgen Biotek Corp) and then prepared
the DNA samples into libraries using the Field Sequencing Kit
(SQK-LRK001, Oxford Nanopore Technology).
She has been using handheld DNA sequencer MinION to basecall and
sequence the libraries and the MinKNOW software to perform
metagenomics analyses on the reads from the MinION. Overall, this
process will allow Lindsay to identify what organisms, if any, are
present in the regolith samples. She aims to validate the findings of
Maggiori et al. (2020), only now conducting the complete experimental
process from regolith sample collection to metagenomics analysis while
undergoing planetary exploration simulation at MDRS, all as a
proof-of-concept that metagenomics studies can be completed in-situ in
this remote environment.

She investigated two regolith samples and got very low DNA yield so far. She will continue with additional samples to see if she can get better DNA yield. Either way, she will determine if she can identify particular microbes from low DNA yield. She plans to repeat the experiment in the home lab for comparison.


Nothing to report today.


I am studying small mixed gender crew interactions. There is no
significant gender difference in task performance and physical
adaptation in isolated, confined, and extreme environments (Harm et
al. 2001; Kanas and Manzey 2008; Mark et al. 2014). Mixed-gender crews
are praised as more efficient, cohesive, and with overall better team
climate than men-only teams. But at the same time gender differences
are recognized as a source of additional tension in a crew (Bishop
2004; Kahn and Leon 2000; Kring and Kaminski 2012; Leon 1991, 2005).
In my dissertation I aim to investigate gender inequality and
differences from a socio-structural point of view in order to help to
send a well-functioning group of women and men to Mars.

Currently at MDRS I collect ethnographic (participant observation)
data for the last chapter of my dissertation. In addition to rich
original data, this chapter will provide context to the rest of the
project. You can read more about the first part of my research in previous science reports.


Bishop, Sheryl L. 2004. “Evaluating Teams in Extreme Environments:
From Issues to Answers.” Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine
75(Suppl 7):C14-21.

Bishop, Sheryl L., Ryan Kobrick, Melissa Battler, and Kim Binsted.
2010. “FMARS 2007: Stress and Coping in an Arctic Mars Simulation.”
Acta Astronautica 66(9):1353–67. doi: 10.1016/j.actaastro.2009.11.00

Harm, Deborah, Richard Jennings, Janice Meck, Michael Powell, Lakshmi
Putcha, Clarence Sams, Suzanne Shneider, Linda Shackelford, Scott
Smith, and Peggy Whitson. 2001. “Genome and Hormones: Gender
Differences in Physiology. Invited Review: Gender Issues Related to
Space Flight in NASA Perspective.” Journal of Applied Psychology

Kahn, P., and G. Leon. 2000. “Group Climate & Individual Functioning
in an All-Women Antarctic Expedition Team.” Journal of Human
Performance in Extreme Environments 5(1). doi: 10.7771/2327-2937.1005.

Kanas, Nick, and Dietrich Manzey. 2008. Space Psychology and
Psychiatry. Springer Science & Business Media.

Kring, Jason P., and Megan A. Kaminski. 2012. “Gender Composition and
Crew Cohesion During Long-Duration Space Missions.” in On Orbit and
Beyond: Psychological Perspectives on Human Spaceflight, edited by D.
A. Vakoch. Springer Science & Business Media.

Leon, G. R. 2005. “Men and Women in Space.” Aviation, Space, and
Environmental Medicine 76(6 Suppl):B84-8.

Leon, Gloria R. 1991. “Individual and Group Process Characteristics of
Polar Expedition Teams.” Environment and Behavior 23(6):723–48. doi:

Maggiori, Catherine, Jessica Stromberg, Yolanda Blanco, Jacqueline
Goordial, Edward Cloutis, Miriam García-Villadangos, Victor Parro, and
Lyle Whyte. 2020. “The Limits, Capabilities, and Potential for Life
Detection with MinION Sequencing in a Paleochannel Mars Analog.”
Astrobiology 20(3):375–93. doi: 10.1089/ast.2018.1964.

Mark, Saralyn, Graham B. I. Scott, Dorit B. Donoviel, Lauren B.
Leveton, Erin Mahoney, John B. Charles, and Bette Siegel. 2014. “The
Impact of Sex and Gender on Adaptation to Space: Executive Summary.”
Journal of Women’s Health (2002) 23(11):941–47. doi:

Crew 228 EVA#6 Report October 6th

Crew 228 EVA Report 06-Oct-2021

EVA #6

Author: Inga Popovaite and David Laude

Purpose of EVA: Exploration of Candor Chasma

Start time: 13.00

End time: 16.00


Dave and Inga drove to one of the entrances to Candor Chasma and explored the beginning of the canyon. The area is beautiful and breathtaking; the canyon is worth spending more time in. There was ample evidence for water flow along dry stream beds with rounded pebbles along the bed. Sedimentary layers were abundant. Also seen is what appeared to be limestone. They took a lot of photos and a few videos for outreach purposes. Inga interviewed Dave about his love for canyons. They took four radios; two of them either died due to low battery or started malfunctioning. Wind picked up on the second half of the EVA during the drive back and it was hard to communicate with VOX setting on. The wind noise caused radios to activate transmit via the VOX function. This helped to drain the batteries. A couple of lessons for the future: backup radios are a must; when it is windy it might be better to have the radio transmit manually operated.

Destination: Candor Chasma.

Coordinates (use UTM NAD27 CONUS): 38.4155 N, -110.768 W

EVA Participants: Dave Laude, Inga Popovaite

Road(s) and routes per MDRS Map: We traveled on Cow Dung Road 0110 and then along Galileo Rd 1104/Cactus Rd 1104.

Mode of travel: Driving, walking

Vehicles you will be using (If applicable): Curiosity and Spirit