Sol 3 Commander Report – March 14th

Crew 190 – sol3 – crew commander report 14-03-2018

As a habit for 3 days, we started our day by a gym session given by Mario. Push up, abs and more to stay fit during the whole mission! After our exercise session and a pancake time, four of us left for an EVA. Unfortunately, they forgot to take some parts of the material before going in the air lock. Therefore, we had to do the outing procedure once again after taking the required material. Frédéric, Michael, Mario and Sophie left with their material and two flags. A Belgian one and the second one with the name and logo of our Belgian university!

After riding for a while with the rovers, they arrived to “the moon” area where they took some soil samples for me and pictures with flags. When they were back to the Hab, Ariane and Michael started to cook the lunch for the whole crew. Afterwards, everyone went to his scientific work for the entire afternoon. Michael did academic work and operational scheduling for the crew. He is still calculating the schedule of tomorrow and it will be soon available. Regarding the part of the team working in the science dome, Martin got good results for his molecules analysis and Ariane was able to follow her sourdough fermentation using pH measurement. Sophie tried to use her muon detector into the science dome but the noise produced by other electrical equipment disturbed her measurement. She will try to perform a measurement away from the station to avoid perturbation coming from equipment.

Regarding the green hab, Mario has finished his first hydroponic tower. Some problem of water leaks appear but we found a solution to fix it and make the hydroponic tower effective. Now the station enjoy a new efficient possibility to make crops growing!

Regarding the mood in the team, it is still good and no problem appeared until now. Nobody complain of our confined environment and wish to go back earth soon!

For tonight, we planned a personal story session to tell the others what we were doing before being sent as the first humans to Mars.

Tomorrow, another EVA will be planned with Ariane as EVA leader (see EVA request). We will continue to work on our scientific projects and find new data about Mars!

Commander Report – March 13th

Today we started our working day by a gym session given by our crew physicist Sophie. An EVA was planned for 4 of us, Martin, Ariane, Bastien and I, so we just had time to eat breakfast and get dressed with the spacesuits and all material needed for the outing. Everyone was motivated and all procedures were perfectly followed by the EVA’s team. We left at 9.30 a.m. with two ATVs and the Curiosity rover. After a few minutes, we reached “White Moon” on the northern side of the Hab. Our crew engineer Bastien was the EVA team leader and he started mapping the area using his drone. He is currently working on these data in view to create a 3D map. His results seem to be encouraging! During the outing, I collected 3 soil samples for further analysis at the station. Theses samples were collected on “White Moon” and on a hill near “URC North Site”.

We came back at the Hab at 10.30 a.m. after the EVA without unexpected event and we stayed a while in the Hab together having a discussion about missing reports and things that must be improved. We lunched together and then everyone started their experiments. Michael spent his afternoon in the ScienceDome, coding his automatic scheduler. Sophie tried to take pictures of the Sun with the telescope but she is still trying to deal with it.

Ariane began her bacteria culture and the selection of the right strains. Our GreenHab officer almost finished his first hydroponic tower and it will soon be ready for a first test. Regarding other experiments, I spent time with Martin in the ScienceDome analyzing our respective samples. We have already got some results on the soil samples collected in the morning showing a difference of acidity between the samples (“URC North Site” soil is more basic than the others). Frédéric, on his side, added a mix of hydrogel on Martian soil for his mint, basil and radish plantations. Ariane is currently baking bread for our supper and we will prepare dinner. Tonight we will probably play board games to relax and strengthen the team spirit.

Regarding the station, no particular problem was encountered. Tomorrow, we will continue the work on our respective scientific projects and some of us will go on EVA (see EVA request).

Commander Report – March 12th

Hi CapCom this is my crew commander report’s for today.

Thanks for reading us!

We began our day by eating the breakfast composed of cereals. Four crew members (Sophie, Martin, Frédéric and Maximilien) immediately started preparing themselves for the first EVA coming at 9am. After getting dressed with the help of the rest of the crew, the EVA team left for the field, staying in communication with the hab for the whole time. The first EVA team came back and explained their impressions of the Mars field to the second EVA team which was already preparing itself for the EVA 1h later. The second team have done their EVA perfectly too and they came back after leaving the sample on the field. Everyone was impressed by the first Martian outing and the landscape so different from the Earth.

After the return of the whole team to the hab, we ate a meal prepared by Ariane. The team took time to discuss and to allow everyone to explain what they expect from their Martian life and to talk about potential problems that could be encountered. This meeting was really interesting to prevent problems in the team life in the future and to allow the commander to better understand the wishes of the team. To start the afternoon, everyone went to their experiment and started to prepare sample, devices and more.

Mario started to build his hydroponic system and found a solution to make it better than it was expected. Martin and Frédéric were preparing the beginning of their experiment using plants. However, Martin had the same problem as Max which is the lack of distilled water, needed for their experiments. Fortunately, a spaceship provided distilled water to the station later during the afternoon.

Bastien used the data provided by the drone to build a detailed map of the Hab’s area and understand how it works. Sophie used the telescope for the first time and took some pictures of the sun. Ariane made her own bread using space baking soda and we are currently eating this bread. Personally, I spend time taking pictures of the crew working hard and I helped Mario for his system building.

Commander Report – March 11th

Crew 190 Commander Report 11-03-2018

Today we were not in simulation yet. Firstly, we woke up at 6:30 and filled the water tank using the MDRS’ car doing round trips between the base and Hanskville. After that, Shannon gave us detailed explanations for the different devices, pump, heater and others things to manage in the station. We spent a bit of time (around 2 hours) walking around the station, discovering the beautiful landscapes. We finally had pastas with the whole team at midday, our first experiments with this very particular kitchen. To begin the afternoon we spent some time with Shannon and Atila to receive the formation for space suits, talky-walky, ATV and rovers. After a session of equipment test, we enjoyed the sun a bit and made some pictures. Finally, we finished the day doing a journey with ATV lead by Shannon, before traveling by ourselves towards the “special region”. We didn’t find any dinosaur bones though! This journey was the opportunity for Sophie and Ariane to get their first experience driving ATV, which was really important before driving in full simulation. Regarding the mindset of the crew, everyone is ready for the simulation and the mood in the team is very good!

The plan for tomorrow is to do EVA on the morning and experimental setup for the afternoon.

Thanks for reading us!

Maximilien RICHALD, CREW 190 UCL to MARS

Commander Report – March 7th

Hello CapCom,

Here is today’s commander report:

Crew 189 Commander Report 07Mar2018

Sol 17

Today’s program was a bit dense, so that we woke up around 7:00 a.m. even if the EVA was planned for the afternoon. We started by a bit of bomb defusing, then went on with emergency procedures training, lead by Laurent, the crew’s HSO. This time, we learned how to deal with a victim from inside the Hab or brought back from the outside. This was surely useful and not only for Mars! We learned how to reanimate, control a pulse, install a splint, etc… The goal was then to put all of it into practice in the afternoon…
After more bomb defusing and a good meal was the time to go out in EVA. We had four main objectives: check the instrument’s batteries and bring back the LOAC if needed, deploy the solar panel dust cleaner, test GPS guidance, and shoot footages for the rotation video. I went back to my former role of crew journalist, shooting photos and videos and clearly enjoyed it. The two first objectives went fine, but Benoit’s GPS chip stopped working another time, preventing him from finding any direction. He is the one struggling the most with his experiment, and it clearly affects his mood. Let’s hope it is only due to the cloudy weather, so that he will be able to run more tests during the last days of the mission.
After a few video shots for Alexandre, came the time for the EVA fifth objective: emergency training in situ. Laurent simulated a leg wound followed by a hemorrhage. We had to designate immediately Victoria as the new leader and take actions quickly to bring him back to the Hab, where Jérémy and Gabriel would take care of him. We helped him walk back to the rover, where we loaded him in the trunk (we surely didn’t drive him this way, but took all the related decisions, and acted as if). He then simulated heart attack and lost consciousness. We then pretended to hurry on the way back to bring him in the Hab as soon as possible. Jérémy and Gabriel were then in charge of saving him, using the previously learned knowledge.
This experiment is clearly one of my favorite: it teaches us crisis management, while giving us bases in medical help. The debriefing we had just after was also very productive: we exchanged on simulation realism, actions that should or shouldn’t have been taken on Mars, depending on the type of spacesuit (traditional rigid ones or futurist skinny ones). Laurent told us what he noticed during all the action and was able to correct us, but it seems that we mostly did well! The mood now changes a bit: crewmembers are more tired, seeing the end of the mission approaching, looking after the end of sim constraints while wanting to do as much as possible before its end. This is surely leading to new interesting sols…

Louis Mangin,
Crew 189 Commander

Commander Report – March 6th

Sol 16

Title: Two new crewmembers!

Dear Earth,

Today, two French journalists from French channel television (TF1) joined the crew on the Red Planet for our typical tasks: physical training, breakfast, morning EVA to check our experiments and explore the Martian surface, engineering check, cooking, EVA debriefing, experiments in the Hab and the Science Dome…

They left our Martian habitat at the end of the afternoon, really happy of what they discovered during their trip! Once again, we were happy to see new faces after almost three weeks confined with the same people. We are so excited to see the results of this TV report and to watch it on the main French TV channel! We were really glad because they asked us many questions, and very interesting questions!

After our guests left, we were once again all busy in the Hab: we did the human factors experiment of Gabriel (the KTNE game), Alex worked on the video presenting our rotation, and I worked on my last experiments.

Moreover, today was a big day, not only because we had guests, but also because we changed the teams of the KTNE experiment: it is funny to see that we have difficulties when we have to discover new partners while playing and defusing bombs.

We have three Sols left on this very nice planet, but we still have a lot of work to do on our experiments before leaving. Luckily, we will have our EVA tomorrow afternoon so perhaps we will sleep more in the morning after these two early wake up!

Ad Astra!

Commander Report – March 5th

Hello Capcom,

Here is today’s Commander Report:

Crew 189 Commander Report 05Mar2018

Sol 15

We started today the last straight line of simulation after a needed day off. We were a bit slow in the morning, struggling to wake up or making last minutes adjustments on experiments before the EVA, so that we ended up leaving the Hab late.

This EVA was another one of the type you do not really want to do, but that ends up being instructive. Almost everything didn’t go as planned: we started late, discovered that both the MegaARES and the LOAC were draining their batteries way faster than expected for an unknown reason, so that we will need to replace both of them, which is impossible as we only have one more. We launched the data copy on the MegaARES and went back to the Hab.

It was then time for Benoit’s experiment to fail: its GPS chip couldn’t find a satellite to connect to. After a long pause during which we restarted it a few times, we decided to head to Hab View Point anyway. The funny thing was that we were carrying inflated balloons all this time, that were supposed to mark specific locations on the field to test the guidance system. It allowed us to shoot unusual photos in which you can see a Martian child carrying balloons in spacesuit over the MDRS!

At the same time, my EVA logger App started to fail too, as I was only able to hear half of the sounds it was supposed to emit. The good thing is that after all the tries I did, I might have found a pattern in the errors giving me a lead on the way to fix it. To end up this EVA properly, we discovered once arrived at Pooh’s Corner that the LOAC power system wasn’t working anymore (for the 4th time if I get the right count…). This time, we headed back to the Hab. But doing so, we didn’t attach a battery properly to an ATV, resulting in it falling 30 meters before arrival after a bump. It started leaking, and we managed to confine it quickly before heading back. This shouldn’t have consequences as the third battery was used for rotations, and we will now only use one charge more for each instrument before the end of the mission.

After all these sad events, we went back on track due to a very good meal, starting by a fresh salad harvested the day before. The afternoon was less challenging: human factors experiments, astronomy, work on experiments, rotation video, VR filming, reports, cooking. All this put together was enough to keep all of us busy. I enjoyed the VR filming as the gear was very nice to use. I hope I didn’t do too bad as it was the first time I ever shot videos using such a video camera. Tomorrow will be another special day as a French national television team will spend the day with us. Let’s hope this goes as well as it did on Saturday!

Commander Report – March 4th

Hi Jennifer, Hi Capcom,

Here the Crew 189 Commander Report 04Mar2018

Sol 14

Title: Third and last Martian Sunday

Dear Earth,

Yesterday, a French journalist, Laure Andrillon, joined the crew for our typical tasks: physical training, breakfast, morning EVA to check the air-sensors experiments and explore the vicinity, EVA debriefing, experiments and personal interview… It was really nice to see a new face after two weeks confined with the same people.

Today was our third Martian Sunday and our second day-off (really needed and appreciated by the whole crew). There was no need to wake up early in the morning, so our Saturday evening was dedicated to cards games (altogether) and lot of fun! As I do not need many sleeping hours, I woke up naturally at 8am, and I was so happy to have my breakfast in this quiet station once again! Living with six men is (quite) noisy sometimes. After this peaceful moment, I went to bedroom, watching the martian environment from my window. The other crewmembers cooked a nice brunch and then everyone took time for themselves (shower, movies, reading, playing…) Louis, Gabriel and I played cards again (we are addicted to the new game we learnt called “Hanabi”). Even if it was our day-off, as I miss practicing sports, I convinced Louis to make our physical training this afternoon, and we did well! (but perhaps the other crewmembers will think we are crazy).

After this, Jérémy did his human factors experiment and everyone was busy: we worked on reports or we cooked.

Tomorrow will begin the last week of our mission on this beautiful planet! Let’s work and have fun altogether for these last days!

Ad Astra!


Victoria Da-Poian

Commander of the still-very-motivated Crew 189

Commander Report – March 1st

Crew 189 Commander Report 01Mar2018

Sol 11
Today started with a long EVA on the outside lead by Alexandre, to explore Lith Canyon. It was also the first time that an EVA left Victoria and I in the Hab, so that no senior crewmembers were on the outside. Quite a strange feeling to let our fellow crewmembers take care of themselves after having watched over them for more than 10 days, but surely normal and necessary. Obviously, nothing went wrong, and they managed their time well.

The only problem we faced today was walkie-talkies working very poorly, probably due to the weather. Gabriel, being Habcom struggled giving instructions to the team while we were hearing what was happening on the outside. It was very frustrating, and lead to some minor misunderstanding, and the EVA team having to knock at the door… We planned to investigate further on that tomorrow, to try to understand better the talkies ranges.

During the afternoon, we struggled defusing bombs while playing Gabriel’s experiment. It is very enriching as you can see accentuated personalities, and group dynamics in action. It surely helps us communicate efficiently, avoid common mistakes while trying to hurry.

The game is very frustrating as you have to deal with missing (and sometimes false) information to help a defuser you cannot see, obviously leading to mistakes. As everybody here is very competitive and wants to score as much as possible, the result might be very funny to watch from the outside. We had our series of success, failures or rage, and it clearly kept everybody awake.

We then spent time working on several experiments, and for instance, I helped Benoit on GPS navigation today. Very cool to come back to some low-level development to create a simple user interface to be used in EVA!
Everybody seems to be fine at Sol 11, exercising well, being in a good mood. Food supplies are more than half full, so that we might start increasing the doses, to help us live this last week to come on Mars!

Louis Mangin,
Crew 189 Commander