Commander Report – March 27th

March 28, 2018
Crew 191 Commander Report 27 March 2018
27 MAR 2018 – Sol3 – Commander Report

Our “earnest Mars play” has finally begun. Speaking of exaggerations, Mars may be a symbol of our curiosity. At the same time, the journey to Mars is also associated with great risk. “Every single aspect of space is conspiring at every moment to pretty much kill humans,” is how one Indian space architect phrased it. It is impossible for us to control Mars. While balancing curiosity and risk, we must carefully move one step at a time. A road without retreat will never allow progress. Here’s where MDRS (Mars Desert Research Station) is, where people with a serious and playful spirit gather together to dream of the future.

Everyone in this life may be imagining a life of “surviving,” as typified by the word “survival.” This is certainly a concern, but as the scale of time spent on Mars increases from “staying” to “living” in a manned Mars mission over the years, it is more a matter of “living” than “surviving.” Real feelings “become more important. It might be a matter of the willingness to be tested in terms of survival, but the ability to live with roots is actually a reliable and predicatable mood. In a tension-forced life, negative feelings easily emerge. “I am OK with myself” does not pass. One absolutely cannot say “Because this is the earth.”
I think that it is my role, as the captain, to make the crews to forget that this place is the earth.
Be curious, Ad Astra, and safe return.

Crew 191 Team Asia Commander Yusuke Murakami

Commander Report – April 1st

In fact, on the real Mars missions, some of those project must be collaborate with earthling supporters. Because we, marsnauts never living alone. So today’s commander report and photo report become an example of a collaborated work with a specialist from Earth. The following article based on commander’s recollections, written by Taro Karasaki, Japanese writer of Asahi Weekly. And Crew191 did an outreach EVA today, to shoot some photos correspond related to the article.

Enjoy “A Day on Mars” adventure !

Crew191 Commander,
Yusuke Murakami

* * *

“A Day on Mars”
By Taro Karasaki, Japanese Writer of Asahi Weekly
Based on Recollections of MDRS Crew191 Commander Yusuke Murakami

(English)
“Wow – will you look at that!”
It was my colleague Emi again, pressing her smartphone against the windshield of our Mars exploration vehicle. “Stop the rover, please? I need to shoot this!”
Before our eyes was Olympus Mons, the tallest peak on Mars — in fact, the tallest known volcano in the solar system — its ridge glowing in the sunlight.
“Not again,” I said rolling my eyes as I watched the latest addition to our Mars exploration team, flailing her arms.
Emi is a personality-turned-essayist assigned to do a column for Asahi Weekly about life on this red planet and how English is being used by the crew as the lingua franca for space missions.
Since Emi arrived a few weeks ago, I found myself frustrated every time she whipped out her smartphone. Just when I thought she started to calm down after being warned of the harsh environment around us at base camp, one step outside she was back to her old self.
I tried to calm myself by reminding myself how I reacted when I saw my first crater two years ago. Pretty much the same – After 270 days confined aboard a crammed spaceship, you want to stretch out.
I was also all too aware that our company went out of its way to enlist Emi, whose spunky and outgoing character could help boost interest towards the Mars development project, and hopefully, our publication.
But we had an agenda – aside from taking photos and doing a video report today, we had to assist our geologist in collecting samples and keep alert for any signs of danger – and only an hour’s time during our EVA (extravehicular activity) to do it all before jumping back in the pressurized rover and returning to base.
We couldn’t put our mission, or our lives, at jeopardy so that one reporter could update her Instagram account. Calmly, I asked Emi the million-dollar question.
“How many flags did you see?”
“What flags?”
Just as I thought.
Completely excited about her first long distance roving mission, Emi had forgotten what I asked her before we left base camp. She hadn’t noticed the flag markers that were meticulously set up every 500 meters to mark the safest and fastest course to Mount Olympus. The first mission spent weeks braving sandstorms to set up the markers. Pretty soon she herself would be in charge of marking a new route.
“Make sure you count the flags on the way back,” I said firmly, without letting my irritation show. “Let’s go over our checklist once more.”
I have spent the last two years as a journalist documenting the construction of our base, the first step to creating a colony for possible emigration. So what is an ordinary guy like me – who failed math in high school and is not particularly athletic type – doing up here, you may ask.
I am one of a group of “generalists” who hail from various backgrounds and include teachers, sports trainers and carpenters. We work alongside the specialists – scientists and pilots – in the Mars mission.
“There is room for everyone up here,” as my mentor, Yusuke, a veteran Mars mission member, told me before I left Earth. Eventually, more people like us will be needed to create a sustainable environment in space.
As for myself, along with assisting the specialists (whom I observed and collected notes on during our long flight) I try to use my reporter’s eye to look out for slight changes in human behavior, which could help prevent unwanted tensions in our closed environment. Sometimes a little small talk can do wonders to soothe nerves.
In addition, I also studied horticulture before embarking on this mission, and I it’s my duty to take care of the vegetable patch at base camp.
Our rover rumbled to a stop. I watched as Emi eagerly got into her spacesuit before the seat belt signs were turned off. As I saw her nimbly walk to the hatch, I knew I needed to interrupt.
“Aren’t we forgetting something? Don’t make me write your obituary.” I tried to get the message across without sounding too harsh: Anything can go wrong. A sandstorm could suddenly wallop us. A system malfunction could interrupt our fieldwork. We needed to stick to the rules as there is little leeway for error.
“Rodger that,” she grumbled, before going through the routine check to see if the oxygen supply was working and all communication systems functioned.

* * *

“Wow,” was all I could say. Rising over 20 kilometers in the sky, or more than twice the height of Mount Everest, Olympus Mons was formidable. What looked from our spaceship like a blister rising up from the otherwise smooth terrain was now a massive wall standing imposingly before us.
We cautiously approached what appeared to be a ledge. Surrounding Olympus is a deep trench, measuring about two kilometers deep in some places. Keeping one eye on my colleague as she busily snapped away at the chasm and the giant formation rising before us, as well as our geologist, I quickly retrieved vials containing soil samples that might give us a better idea about what Mars was like when water is said to have existed in abundance on its now dry surface. After labeling them, I placed them in order in the carrying case.
“Taro-san, your space pen,” I turned around to see Emi standing beside me. “It looks like you’re running out of ink.” I looked down at the vials. She was right. I could still read what I had written, but the lines were getting thinner. Emi offered her brand-new pen.
Before we know it, our time is up, and we climb aboard the rover. The drive back to base camp is long and our mission is not yet over. We still have to drop off extra fuel cells at depots along the way so that the next team won’t have to worry about running out of power when they come out here. And there is some unfinished business for Emi.
“Remember to keep an eye out for those flags,” I tell Emi, and she nods, her pen and notebook in hand.

* * *

Emi smiled as she heard my stomach growl. We had now entered the base camp and removed our gear. It had been a long day, and I’d forgotten all about eating.
I am told that a sukiyaki party will be held – a ritual to greet our new team members and send off those who will soon finish their tour of duty.
While it will be mostly freeze-dried beef, tofu and konnyaku (devil’s tongue), at least the shungiku (garland chrysanthemum) and green onions will be local produce. Already I’m worrying again if the crew that stayed behind heeded my words and harvested the right batch and left the young leaves to grow some more.
There is so much I have to pass on to Emi and so little time. And there are things she must learn by herself.
For now, at least, it’s probably time to sit down and enjoy a well-deserved meal.

(Japanese)
『ある火星の一日』
柄崎太郎著、原作・村上祐資

「すごい。あれをを見て!」
また同僚のエミが、火星探査用の四輪駆動車のフロントガラスにスマホを押しつけながら、叫んでいだ。
「ローバーを止めて。ね、お願い?写真を撮らなきゃ!」
目の前には、火星で、いや、太陽系で確認された最も標高の高い火山、オリンパス山がそびえ立っていた。太陽の光に照らされ、その稜線が輝いていた。
「またか」私は呆れたように、わが火星探査チームの最も新しいメンバーの興奮する様子を見ていた。
ところで、エミとは私が働く朝日ウイークリーが雇ったタレントからエッセイストに転身した女性で、火星での有人探査の様子と、隊員の間で公用語として使われる英語の実態について取材しに来たのだ。
数週間前に到着したばかりのエミが、ことあるごとにスマホを取り出すことに私はイライラしていた。基地でこの環境の苛酷さについてレクを受け、ようやく落ち着いたと思ったら、外に出た途端、元に戻った。
私は2年前、火星に到着しばかりで、初めてのクレーターを見た時の自分の様子を思い出しながら、気持ちを落ち着かせた。270日間も宇宙船に閉じ込められて、誰だって少しくらい羽根を伸ばしたくなる。
そして、同時に、エミはその元気で人懐っこい性格を活かして、火星の開発プログラムに対する理解を深めるために(そして私たちの媒体に関心を持ってもらうために)雇われていることも、理解していた。
しかし、私たちには任務があった。写真を撮ったり、ビデオを撮ったりする以外に、同行させてもらっている地質学者の標本採集の手伝いや、安全確認など、やることがいっぱいだった。そして、船外活動のタイムリミットは1時間。そのあと、予定通りに与圧されたローバーに乗り込んで、基地に向けて出発しなければいけない。
たった一人の人間がインスタグラムを更新するためにミッションはもちろん、隊員の命を危険にさらすことはできない。私はそこで、エミにズバリ聞くことにした。
「旗は何本立っていた?」
「なんの旗?」
思った通りだ。初めての長距離ロービング活動で興奮していたエミは基地で頼んだことを忘れていた。それは1次探査チームのときから、砂嵐などに悩まされながら、障害物を避けながらなるべく早くオリンパス山にいけるコースを見失わないために500メートルの間隔で立てた旗だ。数週間後には彼女も同じように旗を立てる作業に従事するのだ。
「わかった。帰りはちゃんと数えるように」。なるべく、いら立ちを感づかれないように、冷静に話した。
「チェックリストをもう一度確認しよう」
この2年間、火星移住計画のための第一歩ともいえる基地の建設を記録してきたわけだが、高校時代数学で赤点をとり、運動神経もさほどよくない私がなぜこんなミッションに参加できたのか、皆さまは疑問だろう。
私は、最近、火星プロジェクトに加わり始めた「ジェネラリスト」と呼ばれるタイプの隊員の一人だ。ジャーナリスト以外に教師やスポーツトレーナー、大工など幅広いバックグラウンドを持った人材が集まっている。私たちはスペシャリストである科学者やパイロット出身の隊員とともに、仕事をしている。
私の先輩であるユウスケさんの言葉を借りれば、「宇宙はさまざまなタイプの人が必要だ」というわけだ。やがて、私たちのような人が増えることは、地球と同じような持続可能な環境をつくるために不可欠なことだ。
私の場合、記者として、養った観察眼を活かし、人の微妙な態度の変化などをチェックすることで、この非常にせまい生活空間の中で些細な衝突を防ぐことを一つの大切な任務としている。例えば、ある隊員の応援している野球チームの話題で、少しでも気晴らしをしてもらえるなら、私の能力も活かされる。
また、出発前に園芸の勉強をした私は、基地内にある菜園を任されている。

ローバーはゆっくりと止まった。シートベルト着用のサインが消える前から、宇宙服をいそいそと着込むエミのすがたを私は見ながら、不安を覚えた。彼女がハッチに向かっていそいそと歩いていくのを見て、止めに入った。

「なんか忘れていないか。お前の訃報記事を書くつもりはないぞ」私は、あまりきつく響かない程度に諭すつもりで言った。宇宙では予想もしないことが起きる。突然の砂嵐が襲い掛かるかもしれないし、システムの不具合で探査が進まないこともある。ここではまずルール通りにやることが大事。失敗の余地がないから。

「了解です」。すこし、面白くなさそうにエミは答えながら、酸素の供給と通信システムのチェックに応じた。

***

「こりゃ、すごいや」。目の前にそびえ立つ標高20キロ、エベレストの2倍の高さのオリンポス山を見ながらそう思った。宇宙船からはすべすべした肌にできた腫物のようなそのオリンポス山はまるで目の前を遮る巨大な壁のようだった。

恐る恐る、先にある崖のようなところに近づいた。オリンポス山の周りは約2キロの深さの溝がある。写真を撮り続ける同僚と探査活動をする地質学者から目を離さないようにしながら、拾い集めたサンプルが入った容器を回収し、それを順番にケースに収めた。このあたりの土壌は火星が水で覆われていた時代の様子を伝えてくれると思われる。
「タロウさん、ペンのインクが切れそうだよ」。エミの言葉にはっとして、手元を見たら、筆跡が強いため、なんとか読めるものの、ラベルの文字がかすれ始めていた。エミは支給されたばかりの自分のペンを貸してくれた。

そうこうしているとすぐ時間は経ってしまった。私たちはローバーに再び乗り、基地に戻ることになった。基地までの道のりは長く、まだいろいろと任務が残っている。途中で絵燃料セルをデポに置いていく。のちにここを訪れるであろう隊員が燃料切れにならないためだ。そして、エミにもう一つ仕事があった。
「旗をちゃんと見ろよ」私はエミにそういうと、彼女はペンとメモを手にうなずいた。

***

基地に到着し、荷物を下ろしたあと、私のお腹が鳴るのを聞いたエミが笑った。
忙しかったあまり、腹をすかしていたことすら気づいていなかった。
今日は新しい隊員の歓迎会と、もうすぐ任務を終える隊員の壮行会を兼ねたすき焼きパーティーが開かれると聞いた。材料の牛肉や豆腐、こんにゃくはフリーズドライだが、春菊やネギはここで作ったものだ。また、留守番をした隊員がちゃんと、私が頼んだように若い葉を残し、正しい苗だけを収穫したかどうか心配になった。

エミにはまだまだ伝えなければいけないことがある。そして、残された時間はあまりない。同時に彼女が自分で学ばなければいけないこともある。

とりあえず今は、待ちに待った食事を楽しむことにしょう。

* * *
Afterword
By Taro Karasaki

We are proud to announce that an article titled “A Day on Mars” collaborated with MDRS Crew191 Commander Yusuke Murakami, will be published in the April 1 issue of Asahi Weekly in Japan.
This week, our travelogue writer takes us to Planet Mars. The third planet in the solar system is known for its diverse terrain, and its tallest peak Olympus Mon rises above 20,000 meters.
As you may be aware by now, April 1st is April Fools’ Day. In many countries, newspapers prominently run articles with such outlandish headlines as “Martians Visit Earth.” The Asahi Weekly took the liberty to run its own “April Fools’ Day story.” Since the 1960s many countries have sent Mars probes in hopes of observing the red planet. However, no human has actually stepped foot on Mars.
On the other hand, there are people who have experienced living for prolonged periods of time in environments similar to that on Mars. In a bid to create a realistic feel, we sought the advice of architect Yusuke Murakami, an expert in architecture in extreme environments. Murakami participated in simulated long term missions at Arctic and desert facilities organized by the U.S.-based “The Mars Society.” The article is based upon recollections of his experience in these remote and harsh environments.
A point made repeatedly by Murakami during our interview and worth mentioning: As mentioned in the travelogue, in the future, those who will be involved in the exploration of Mars will include people hailing from a wide background of careers and walks of life; not just “specialists” as pilots and scientists. When you come to think of it, travel to Mars — and a travelogue — may no longer seem like an “outlandish” story after all.

Crew 191 Commander Report 27Mar2018

[title Commander Report – March 27th]

27 MAR 2018 – Sol3 – Commander Report

僕らの『本気の火星ごっこ』が、とうとう始まった。大げさにいえば火星とは、僕ら人類の好奇心の象徴かも知れない。同時に火星までの道程には、大きなリスクも待ち受けている。"Every single aspect of space is conspiring at every moment to pretty much kill humans(宇宙の全ての側面は、人間を殺害するためにいかなる時点でも関係している)." とは、とあるインド人宇宙建築家の言葉だ。火星をコントロールすることなんて、僕らにできやしない。好奇心とリスクとを天秤にかけながら、おそるおそる一歩を踏み出す。退路のない道は決して進まない。本気と遊び心と両方を持ち合わせる人たちが集まり、未来を夢見ることができる場所、それがここMDRS(Mars Desert Research Station)だ。

ここでの暮らしを皆さんは、「サバイバル」という言葉に代表されるような「生き延びる為」の生活をイメージされるかもしれない。確かにそういう一面もあるのだけれど、数年にもわたる有人火星ミッションでは「滞在」から「暮らし」へと、生活する時間のスケールがひろがっていくにつれて、「生き延びること」よりも「生きている実感」の方がより大切になっていく。サバイバルで試されるのは、折れない意志の力かもしれないけれど、根を張って生きていくのに必要な能力は、実はぶれない気分の方だったりする。緊張を強いられる暮らしのなかでは、負の気持ちは簡単に連鎖していく。「自分だけは大丈夫」は通用しない。だから絶対に「ここは地球だから」と口にしないこと。クルーたちが地球にいることなんて忘れてしまうようにさせることが、隊長としての僕の役割だと思っている。

Be Curious, Ad Astra, and Safe Return.

Crew191 TEAM ASIA Commander,
Yusuke Murakami

Crew 191 Commander Report 27Mar2018

[title Commander Report – March 27th]

27 MAR 2018 – Sol3 – Commander Report

僕らの『本気の火星ごっこ』が、とうとう始まった。大げさにいえば火星とは、僕ら人類の好奇心の象徴かも知れない。同時に火星までの道程には、大きなリスクも待ち受けている。"Every single aspect of space is conspiring at every moment to pretty much kill humans(宇宙の全ての側面は、人間を殺害するためにいかなる時点でも関係している)." とは、とあるインド人宇宙建築家の言葉だ。火星をコントロールすることなんて、僕らにできやしない。好奇心とリスクとを天秤にかけながら、おそるおそる一歩を踏み出す。退路のない道は決して進まない。本気と遊び心と両方を持ち合わせる人たちが集まり、未来を夢見ることができる場所、それがここMDRS(Mars Desert Research Station)だ。

ここでの暮らしを皆さんは、「サバイバル」という言葉に代表されるような「生き延びる為」の生活をイメージされるかもしれない。確かにそういう一面もあるのだけれど、数年にもわたる有人火星ミッションでは「滞在」から「暮らし」へと、生活する時間のスケールがひろがっていくにつれて、「生き延びること」よりも「生きている実感」の方がより大切になっていく。サバイバルで試されるのは、折れない意志の力かもしれないけれど、根を張って生きていくのに必要な能力は、実はぶれない気分の方だったりする。緊張を強いられる暮らしのなかでは、負の気持ちは簡単に連鎖していく。「自分だけは大丈夫」は通用しない。だから絶対に「ここは地球だから」と口にしないこと。クルーたちが地球にいることなんて忘れてしまうようにさせることが、隊長としての僕の役割だと思っている。

Be Curious, Ad Astra, and Safe Return.

Crew191 TEAM ASIA Commander,
Yusuke Murakami

Commander Report – March 22nd

Crew 190 – sol11 – crew commander report 22-03-2018

First, we made a short gym session for waking up. Then, we ate breakfast and we wished a happy birthday to Michael who is now 31 years old. Sophie, Bastien, Mario and Michael left for an EVA up to “Zubrin Head” place. They took some pictures and Bastien mapped the area. Afterwards, they installed the muons detector outside of the station before coming back inside the Hab.

At midday, Ariane started to cook the lunch and we spent time eating and speaking for Michael Birthday’s. To complete our afternoon, everyone worked to his scientific project. Last manipulations will be done tomorrow morning.
Tonight we will have dinner followed by a cake kindly prepared by the crew commander especially for Mick’s birthday.

Tomorrow, we plan to end the experiments and have a small EVA before starting to clean up the whole station. Our way back to Earth is now in the mind of each crew members.

Regarding the station, nothing to declare.

Crew Commander Report – 21st March

Today, we started by a breakfast and participating to Martin’s experiment who is studying the impact of a Martian lifestyle on memory and reflexes. Afterwards, four crew members left for an EVA to “Cactus road”. We took pictures and soil samples for Ariane’s and Maximilien’s experiments. When we came back to the Hab, prior eating, we spent time reading and analyzing our data.

During the afternoon, everyone worked on their experiments and took time relaxing.

We are starting to feel the end of our journey on Mars and we are planning our return to Earth. Scientists are finishing their experiments little by little and gathering their last results.

For some of us, we are starting to feel that living in a confined area on Mars is quite difficult and we miss the easiness of living on Earth. However, it is partially due to the amount of scientific work which is decreasing every day. Meanwhile, the mood of the team is still good and no relational problem appeared during these last days. We are still as close as ever!

Tonight we will have dinner prior organizing the end of our mission and thinking about work that has to be done when we come back on earth.

Regarding the station, the water pump seems to make strange noise (see engineer report).

Commander Report – March 20th

As any common day on Mars, our crew woke up at 7:30 am and started with a breakfast prepared by Michael and myself. Pancakes and coffee at the menu!

Afterwards, five of us prepared themselves for a 2:30 hours long EVA (see EVA report). Like yesterday, the EVA team was confronted to a charging problem with the rovers. This problem was solved later by connecting only one plug to the electrical outlet.

During the EVA, Ariane and myself have done some administrative work and Bastien worked on his 3D mapping. When the EVA team came back we started cooking the lunch and tidying a bit the second floor of the station. After the copious meal, we spent time talking together around a coffee to ensure that all scientific project are progressing well. Later on, crew members were back to their occupation and scientific projects. Sophie worked the whole day on her detector and Ariane on her bacteria. Unfortunately, for Ariane, she did not get the expected result for her bacteria selection. But she is not giving up and will continue her project!

To continue our evening after the dinner, we will do a blind test game.

The mood of the crew is still good after more than one week on Mars. That is good news! Tomorrow, an EVA is planned for more sample collection and the team is going to start to think about finishing their scientific work before going back to earth.

Regarding the station, there is no significant problem detected. Only the problem of rover mischarging was to note but now it is fixed.

Commander Report – March 18th

Today, it was planned to have a day off to relax, make the food inventory, clean up a bit the station and leave on EVA. After waking up, Michael and Sophie began a gym session while others were just relaxing up to midday. After that we had a Sunday lunch composed of mashed potatoes with chicken and compote. Our bellies being fully filled up, five crew members left for an EVA towards “yellow moon” to take soil samples, pictures and exploit the drone (see EVA report). Unfortunately, the weather was too windy and as a consequence it was impossible the fly with the drone. We came back to the Hab at 15h47 and we started to clean our living place. Shannon came to spoke with us about tracks found in the desert. This morning we have seen motorbikes and probably ATVs riding off road.

Tonight we will have the dinner and a board game time to strengthen the team spirit.

Concerning the food inventory, we will need some food supplies. It would be really appreciated if a space ship can bring us these food supplies.

Regarding the station, a part from the MDRS aeration felt. During the EVA, we tried to dismantle the wheel of the broken rover. Unfortunately, the tools provided do not fit.

Commander Report – March 17th

Commander Maximilien Richald

We started our day by a breakfast, followed by the daily health test given by Martin the HSO of the crew. Four of us left for an EVA of two hours. We explored the mountain close from Zubrin’s head where we took pictures and harvested one sample of white soil for me.

After eating a potatoes lunch, some of us rested a bit while the rest of the team was working on its experiments. Martin has problem with his calibration curve for his analysis. The turbidity of his solutions was too high to allow a measurement by UV-Vis spectrophotometry. Fortunately, we worked together to find a solution and get a calibration curve of quality.

Michael solved the IT problem with the rover and he was able to make it riding. Unfortunately, the rover, which was riding around the station, got stuck and we organized a rescue mission to bring it back to the Hab.

In the end of the afternoon, Mario cooked cookies for us and everyone took time to relax. Tonight, we will continue our evening with a diner cooked by Ariane and a “life story” night.

At this time of the mission, nobody is complaining about confined environment or difficulties to live on Mars! Let’s continue like this!

Regarding the station, no significant problem was detected.