Commander Report – January 22nd

MDRS Crew 220 Commander’s Report 22Jan2020
Commander: Shawna Pandya

Power to the (Martian) People!

Sol 3 and we have already come together admirably as a crew to rise to the occasion. As I understand it, for the first time in station history, over Sol 1 & 2, both the generator and the solar panels failed due to the Martian winter, and station power went down to a SOC of 0%, leaving us to place all EVAs and science on hold until we got back line. There are some who might shrink back from such a challenge – and there are those who rise, grow and become closer and stronger in the face of adversity. I am proud to say that MDRS Crew 220 is the latter. These strong men and women of Mars stepped up to the occasion, powered down, took the ~36hrs without electricity in stride. We shared experiences by flashlight, sang favorite tunes by guitar (like “Hallelujah” by Jeff Buckley), and did our best to look after each other’s mental and physical status. The fortitude that this crew has shown has made me proud.

Today, as the Hab got back online, we started to catch up on normal operations and getting our mission back on track. First, we restored power in a graded fashion, bringing essential electrical operations online first as the state-of-charge of the back-up batteries reached first 12, then 50 and finally 100%. We started with our radio chargers, followed by our life support suits for EVA and rovers and internet, followed by full operations. The rest of the day was spent bringing the mission back on track to achieving our objectives with respect to mission, exploration and science objectives, including planning EVAs and getting our science back online. We started the morning by doing EVA preparatory drills, to ensure that we knew our gear inside out, and could equip ourselves expediently in case of an emergency.

Next, we completed took part in a body mapping activity, where we outlined our bodies, and then mapped our physical, physiological and psychological states onto the posterboard. This crew has put a special emphasis on wellness, and this body-mapping activity comprised today’s wellness actviity. All in all, this crew has demonstrated incredible fortitude and resilience, but just as importantly, incredible compassion and humanity. We check in with each other, ensure we stay fed and hydrated, and look out for signs of distress, fatigue and over-exertion. I am honored to be amongst this crew.

Looking forward to the ensuing Sols,

Commander Pandya

Commander Report – January 18th

Crew 219 Commander’s Report, 18-01-2020

Author: Dave Masaitis, Commander

SOL 13

Peace on Mars, and Goodwill To Crews

It was the Summer of 2017 when I spoke to Nathan on the phone and told him he should have a look at the MDRS website. He was busy with a summer internship in Tennessee, and asked me to give him a run-down. I told him it was a Mars analog in the Utah desert, and it could be a valuable resource for the members of our organization to send crews to evaluate our work. After some discussion, we both agreed that we should bring it to the rest of the membership in the fall with the intent of submitting an application. Three years and two MDRS missions later, and I am shaking hands with Commander Pandya of Crew 220, to transfer responsibility of the MDRS campus at sunset.

I took an out-of-sim hike up North Ridge with others from Crew 219 today, to show them the absolutely breathtaking view that Nathan, Hannah, and I had the pleasure of seeing as members of Crew 205. In their words it was another life-altering experience, but for me personally, it was finally an opportunity after quite a number of persistently busy years and back-to-back missions to stop and reflect. The air was clear, the sun was shining and there was a steady but light breeze from the northwest. It has been an extremely long road to this point, rife with challenges, but we made it. We all made it. We did it together, but I can no longer contain the pride and excitement that I feel having had the honor of leading the first All-Florida-Tech crew through this experience, especially knowing that more will follow.

We selected and trained an exceptional crew, who stayed motivated and cheerful while they accomplished a lion’s share of high-fidelity science and engineering. Their diligence and
professionalism is a testament to each of their characters, but their willingness to greet adversity with a smile and a laugh is a testament to their spirits. I am humbled to have shared this time with them, and I couldn’t have asked for a better group of peers, friends, and colleagues.

This afternoon we had the opportunity to meet and train a new group of selected professionals, each with their own stories, capabilities, and expectations. I think I can speak for all of Crew 219 when I say that we are extremely excited to see the work that Crew 220 produces in their time here, so we have been doing everything we can to help them get up to speed and get situated for their time here. After I finish writing this, we will take pictures and eat dinner together, and by 0500 in the morning, we will be leaving this mission on Mars in their capable hands.

I am grateful to Dr. Robert Zubrin and Dr. Shannon Rupert for giving us this incredible opportunity. I am thankful for the diligence and hard work of Atila Meszaros and David Mateus as well as the slew of wonderful volunteers and members of CapCom and the Mars Society that provided us with knowledge and support along our journey. I am thankful for the support and encouragement provided by Florida Tech and our sponsors.

I am humbled and grateful, but not heartbroken. We did what we came here to do, and now it’s time to go. Now it’s time to return to Florida and prepare another crew. Now it’s time to embrace new challenges in exploration, both in the sky and the sea. Now it’s time to keep pushing the boundaries of human experience; to go where others will not, to see what we did not even know to look for.


Dave Masaitis

Commander, Crew 219

Commander Report Jan 04th

Crew 219 Commander Report – 04-01-2020

On time, On Target

Crew 219 had a smooth trip to the Hab, where we met a cheerful Crew 218 preparing lunch. After some hearty soup and some laughs, we broke off by respective job roles to be trained by our predecessors. The members of 218 were thorough and informative, patiently answering all of our questions. We took some group photos and moved out for dinner at Stan’s. We are immensely grateful for the warm and hilarious welcome that 218 gave us, and we are eagerly looking forward to beginning our mission.

Dave Masaitis

Commander, Crew 219

Commander Report – Jan 04th

Crew 218 Commander Report – 04-01-2020

Back home and ready to pass the torch

After a few hours on Friday evening and Saturday morning spent cleaning our habitat and the rest of campus, we welcomed the next MDRS crew.

We are tired but happy of our mission, which was very successful even when facing adversities, but also happy to get ready to step back on Earth, while wishing a wonderful mission to our friends from Florida Tech. After training them, we all went to get dinner at Stan’s Shack. Now we are getting ready for our last night here. Thanks again to all the people who supported us before and during this mission. Boiler up

Cesare Guariniello,

Commander 218

Commander Report – January 03rd


Crew 218 Commander Report – 03-01-2020

Sol 12 – Good things come to an end? Good things go into better things!

As usual, time during a mission at MDRS flies. So, we are already on our way back to Earth, ready to open our hatch and come out of simulation tomorrow. It has been a fantastic ride, with different challenges than in my previous missions, mostly weather-related, and a lot of fun and good work. The feelings are mixed: we are a little tired and probably ready to come back to our friends and families, though we know that the first impact with crowds will be surprising. There is obviously some sadness, as it is for every good thing that comes to an end. But my feeling is that the kind of good things that we do at MDRS do not end here, but they evolve into better things. This is true not only for those who, like me, are veterans of MDRS. Everybody who is part of a crew at MDRS goes back home with more inspiration to be spread around, with a better understanding of the challenges of space exploration and of oneself, and with the pride of having given a personal contribution to the great endeavor we all dream of: expanding our horizons, both personal and as humankind, to be able to leave Earth on the route of exploration and knowledge and adventure.

My gratitude to the many people who supported our mission!

Cesare Guariniello, Commander

Commander Report – January 02nd



Crew 218 Commander Report 02-01-2020

Sol 11 – Light, camera, action

Today we had a special day: a visit from an Earthling filming crew who spent some time grabbing our activities as analog astronauts. Our day proceeded as usual, with two EVAs after breakfast and a good amount of research. Despite the clouds and the cold that still persist, we had successful excursions, after which our guests had more taste of our research activities and of our social life. Tomorrow we will already be cleaning and preparing the hab for the following crew. As usual, time here flies and it is hard to realize that we actually are in a new year!

Cesare Guariniello, Commander

Commander Report – January 1st

Crew 218 Commander Report 01-01-2020

Sol 10 – Welcome, 2020

In the middle of our last week at MDRS, and after our New Year’s Eve celebration, we woke up at 8.30 for another productive day. After breakfast, an EVA in very cold and cloudy weather reached for the first time in this mission a location distant from the main road, with a good ride and field work off Galileo Rd. Unfortunately, cold weather also means slow battery recharge. The second EVA planned for the day could not therefore use the rovers, and the two research projects associated with it were performed in the vicinity of the habitat, after an engineering EVA. Work is proceeding well, though the commander felt the need for a good nap before working on reports.

Cesare Guariniello, Commander

Commander Report – December 31st

Crew 218 Commander Report – 31-12-2019

Sol 9 – End of Earth year 2019

While we are preparing our feast to celebrate the last day of Earth year 2019, we are reviewing what was a good last day.

Finally, the Sun has been shining all day long and even if the snow did not completely melt, at least the EVAs in sub-freezing temperatures were much more pleasant than the past ones. In the afternoon, we started popping a few New Year wishes from Central Europe.

Due to pipes still being frozen, we had another chain of water upstairs, so as to be able to take some nice showers!

Now waiting for some guests from the nearby habitat to celebrate together.

Goodnight and Happy New Year!!

Cesare Guariniello, Commander Crew 218

Commander Report – December 30th

Crew 218 Commander Report – 30-12-2019

Sol 8 – Out on white Mars

Today we had a long and productive day. Our dishes piling up because of frozen pipes, we opted for a quick smoothie for breakfast before delving into EVA activity. Luz Ma and Shefali had our first all-women EVA, destination Galileo Road, and they surveyed the situation of the roads for us. Luz Ma took weather observations while Shefali could participate in person in her project of evaluation of EVA and EMU suits. Once they came back, we completed a team activity to use an auxiliary pump, a hose, and various pots to transfer water from our large static tank to the loft tank, that is the source of water for our kitchen, washroom, and toilet. The second EVA, with me, Pat and Ben, took a longer route and brought us to the intersection with Brahe Hwy. All three of us collected valuable data for our projects. When we re-entered, we were welcome by fresh, warm rosemary bread which I had started before EVA egress. Reinforced by the various adversities we faced together, we are on a steep learning curve to become better Martians inside and outside the habitat!

Commander Report – December 29th

Crew 218 Commander Report 29-12-2019

Sol 7 – Half-way

We are in sol 7 of 13, reaching half-way through our mission. The day was extremely cold, all the pipes froze, and we have not been able to pump water up in the habitat, so we are working (really well) with rationed water. I began recording my biometrics for one of the research projects. Finally, three of us managed to get outside in a short EVA to continue two research projects. The landscape is as amazing as ever, and white is giving way to a great Martian red. The afternoon was spent between research and preparation of samosa, and the crew keeps getting the best of all the situations. Mood is great and we are ready to spend some more time outside.