Crew 282 Journalist report 05June2023
By: Jordan Bimm
Is there life on Mars? Scientists are still searching. But there is life at MDRS, and Crew 282 is here to study it in detail. Martian Biology III is a non-sim science mission at MDRS focused on cataloguing the biodiversity of the desert south of the San Rafael Swell, with a special focus on plants, lichens, and insects. The Martian Biology Program at MDRS was conceived of by Dr. Shannon Rupert, field ecologist and Senior Director of Analog Research for the Mars Society. This time, our team consists of botanist Paul Sokoloff (Canadian Museum of Nature), entomologist Jacopo Razzauti (Rockefeller University), and space historian Jordan Bimm (University of Chicago). Building off previous missions Martian Biology I (May 2019) and Martian Biology II (June 2022), we plan to visit different field sites of biological interest reachable from the Hab over the next 5 days searching for interesting flora, fauna, and biota. Early each morning, before the heat of day, we travel to a different field site and collect specimens. Upon returning to the Hab we process, catalogue, and study these in the Science Dome. Field sites Martian Biology III will investigate include Salt Wash, The Henry Mountains, Muddy Creek, and the Fremont River. Stay tuned for more photos as we explore these stunning and fascinating ecosystems.
Image 1: Entomologist Jacopo Razzauti uses an aspirator, a device that uses suction to capture small insects alive, to collect ants at Salt Wash.
Image 2: Botanist Paul Sokoloff collects plant specimens at Salt Wash
Image 3: The purple Intermountain Phacelia (Phacelia demissa) and the yellow Palmer’s Bee Plant (Cleomella palmeriana) are in full flower on Factory Bench.
Image 4: The Plains Pricklypear (Opuntia polyacantha) flowering in Salt Wash.
Image 5: A red beetle we collected at Salt Wash and will identify in the Science Dome.
Image 6: The Nakedstem Sunray (Enceliopsis nudicualis) is a common desert species which is newly collected for the Mars Desert Research Station area.
Image 7: The day’s haul of plant specimens laid out in the Science Dome before pressing.
Image 8: Crew 282, Jordan Bimm, Jacopo Razzauti, and Paul Sokoloff, pose in front of the Science Dome on the first night of Martian Biology III.