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

Commander Report – February 28th

Crew 189 Commander Report 28Feb2018

Sol 10

Title: Our mid rotation day

Dear Earth,

Yesterday, we agreed to stay in the station all day and not go to EVA.

As usual, we woke up at 7 AM to do our physical training, but after that we had breakfast without the hurry of the EVA preparation. Gabriel cooked pancakes and we took time to talk about our beginning of rotation. The idea was to make it possible to everyone to work on their own experiment and to do some maintenance in the station.

After the breakfast, Jérémy, Gabriel, Louis and I went to the greenhab to deploy the new shadow cover. It was such a horrible oven. We spent almost three hours doing this maintenance task. We were all dehydrated after this, but it was a very nice teamwork once again. After this nightmare, we spent one hour playing the human factors experiment of Gabriel. With my team, we did a very nice performance (once again). Alex and I are the leaders of the competition, while Benoit and Louis are last ones (and noisiest ones).

After this nice and busy morning, we had a very usual lunch, eating our lovely beans. Everybody came undone and had their first OREO. The beginning of the afternoon was quiet and dedicated to personal time and human factors experiment. At 5pm, with my fellow friend and sports coach Louis, we decided to have a second physical training. I have to confess I felt not really well at the end, and had to spend 10 minutes sitting down. When I came back in the upper-desk, I discovered that my professional-bakers-crewmates cooked a new bread with some … blue food coloring. Hopefully it smells very good!

We are now on the brink of the second half of our mission here. I feel that everyone has taken his marks, the different personalities seem to be in accord and the crew atmosphere is incredible!

Ad Astra!


Victoria Da-Poian,


Commander of the Bread-Smurf crew 189

Commander Report – February 27th

Crew 189 Commander Report 27Feb2018

Sol 9

Today started by me waking up after the moonset to try to shoot stars
pictures, and it resulted in a failure as the sun was already rising,
adding too much light. I then set up a timelapse shooting for the
sunrise and went back to bed.

Today was dedicated to emergency procedures, so that after the sport
session, we spent two hours being formed by Laurent on how to react to
a medical emergency. We then had a brainstorming on how to adapt it to
an EVA situation. This was a very interesting discussion, we
postulated that we had heart pulse and breathing captors, segmented
suits, so that a leak could be confined to a specific area. This was a
very productive time, and we gathered a lot of interesting ideas.
After some bomb defusal and lunch, we went outside to test this out.

Laurent was logically EVA leader, and after a quick battery
replacement on the MegaARES, he put us in several emergency situation,
always using an accomplice to play the victim, to let us react and
train us in situ. This didn’t go as well as expected as the backpack
and helmet are very wide and annoyed us while moving a victim. We also
struggled to charge a victim inside the rover, but proved that it was
possible, and created a protocol to charge him with three crew
members.

It is very satisfying to see our colleagues progressively taking the
lead. We let them take responsibilities, manage the time… Laurent lead
the whole day today and did fine, so did Jérémy yesterday, as EVA
leader. After having spent a lot of time leading and organizing the
whole schedule with Victoria, we now have an independent crew, ready
to success in this second part of the Mission.

Tomorrow is going to be quiet, as almost everybody has inside job
planned. Most of the experiments need to be worked on, and we don’t
have a short-term objective, so that we won’t go out. The whole crew
is already motivated and joyful, everybody keeps spending a lot of
time together, even during free time, and it surely help maintaining a
good crew cohesion. Hope this goes on for the following!

Commander Report – February 26th

Hi CapCom !

Here is the Crew 189 Commander Report 26Feb2018

Sol 8

Title: Beginning of our second week on Mars

Dear Earth,

We are currently beginning our second week on Mars. Our Sunday day-off was needed and everyone seemed to enjoy it. As a celebration, Benoit cooked the ideal meal to end at best our first week on Mars: homemade pizzas from our dry food (homemade dough, tomato sauce, cheese, meat, and fresh herbs from our greenhab).

From my commander view, this simulation is a success for now: It is like it started really good and just kept getting better. After the debriefing of our physical training results that Louis gave us yesterday, we are all ready and motivated to meet the highest expectations of our sports coach. Benoit, Laurent and Louis did their best scores (let’s see tomorrow if the other part of the team continues to be as successful).

After our breakfast, I let Jérémy organizing the EVA preparation as he was EVA leader. Because of some backpacks issues, we were 10 minutes late. The EVA team composed of Jérémy, Gabriel, Alex and I went out to the Pooh’s corner place where our two air sensors were deployed last week. Jérémy changed the battery of his experiment. After that, we took two ATVs and a rover to explore and take pictures at White Rock Canyon, which I discovered last year and remembered well. Meanwhile, Laurent explained Louis the emergency procedures he wants to simulate during future EVAs. The EVA team came back earlier and we managed to check and clean all our EVA equipment before lunchtime. We cooked beans with meat and enchiladas sauce (we have beans in large quantity, beside all the junk snacks).

The second week begins with a big concern: the crew is more and more hungry. During the first week, the protein bars have been quickly eaten and we decided today to give everyone the same numbers of the remaining bars: who is going to be the first to eat all of them? (I bet on Benoit or Jérémy)

After a quick break, we “played” again the Human Factors experiment of Gabriel. This week the competition between the two teams is increasing because the better team will win a surprise box with food after the simulation! Everyone seems very excited to take part in this experiment, and we can’t wait for the competition results (and even more because with my friend Louis we will lead the two different teams).

After the delicious meal of yesterday, we are beginning to talk about our food rationing for the next two weeks. The success of our bread competition made the flour stocks cruelly decreasing… I let you guess what will be our future meals (it starts with B and ends with EANS)

Ad Astra!

Victoria Da-Poian

Commander of the beans-eaters Crew 189

Commander Report – February 25th

Crew 189 Commander Report 25Feb2018

Sol 7

Title: First day off

Dear Earth,

Last year misadventures made Louis and I declare one day off every week.

Sol7: we have been there for an entire week now, and it was our first day off (really appreciated by everyone). Since our arrival, we had been doing our thirty-minutes physical training every single Sol, at 7 AM before breakfast, and almost an EVA every morning.

With Louis, we decided this year to make one day off per week in order to have some rest, to have fun altogether and then to work better the other days. This morning was supposed to be without any early alarms and each crewmember could sleep as they wanted. Nevertheless, I had quite a noisy and (really) boring alarm at 5am. My dear greenhab officer, who is sleeping in the room next to mine, snored all night long and this horrible noise woke me up. As I could not manage to sleep again, I had breakfast in this quiet station (I have to say living with six men is sometimes really noisy). I spent a really nice moment, looking behind the windows to see the Martian sunset. As Gabriel failed cooking the bread yesterday evening (he used gluten instead of flour in his bread), he decided to cook another one just after and I was the first to taste it: it was an amazing breakfast! Not really awake, I enjoyed this moment and decided to have some rest after this really short night.

I spent two hours in my bedroom, enjoying the blue sky and the sunny light from my window. When the other crewmembers woke up, we talked and spent time chilling altogether. Jérémy and Benoit went to the greenhab in order to re-organize it. Gabriel had his first shower (2,3 gallons) and I filmed again a pep talk video for our fellow colleagues on Earth who will take part into a famous French TV game.

Louis worked on the video-editing all day (hopefully he knows how to do it and enjoys this).

Finally, our Sundays on Mars are made of late wake up, no early workout, kind of brunch and resting activities (reading, watching movies, playing games, cooking…). We are all together on Mars for one week already and I think the crew stays in a good mood and is feeling well on this new planet. (Let’s pray my fellow neighbor will not snore tonight…)

Ad Astra!

Victoria Da-Poian

Commander of the Sunday-chilling Crew 189

Cheers

Commander Report – February 20th

Crew 189 Commander Report 20Feb2018

Sol 2

Today was probably our first “normal” day: everything is now almost
set up, excluding our experiments, that are for most of them already
facing some predictable minor issues. It is also the day I started to
monitor our water consumption. Like during our previous rotation, we
keep track of filtered water, greenhab water, cooking water, flushes
and showers, to understand our consumption better.

We woke up at 7:00 am, exercised together, and took extra time to
prepare ourselves better for our second EVA. This one had a bigger
scientific role than yesterday’s one: we wanted to deploy both the
MegaAres and the LOAC near Pooh’s Corner, in the spot we had chosen
yesterday. My fellow commander Victoria who was EVA leader today, went
with Jérémy, Gabriel, Benoit and one of our school’s mascot to the
work place. They first tried to deploy the LOAC experiment, but a wire
connection blocked the deployment. After this first failure, they
worked altogether on the MegaARES. Two hours, 10 nails, and many
screws later, it was operational and they all went back happy of this
EVA, looking forward to deploying the other experiments. Stay tuned
tomorrow to know more about the LOAC deployment.

At the same time in the hab, we cooked, kept assembling Laurent’s
solar panels cleaners, and dissembled the water boiler to try to fix
it. It was only when Benoit came back with the voltmeter that he
managed to fix it with a little soldering. This may seem secondary,
but the whole food needs to be rehydrated using boiling water so that
a working boiler allows us to accelerate every meal preparation. I
then tried to bake bread and ended up messing with cups and US
tablespoon so that we had to rename it “the Rock”…

This afternoon started by a victory from the commander’s duo in our
French card game “coinche” at the end of lunch break. Then, we
experienced several informatic problems while trying to launch our
human factor experiments, but nothing serious. We will just have to
wait for one more day to launch these. The end of the afternoon was
quiet as everybody was busy working on experiments and reports.

Ad Astra!

Commander Report – February 19th

Dear Graeme and mission support,

here the Crew 189 Commander Report 19Feb2018

Sol 1

Dear all,

I can say that I am already very proud of my team.

After the birthday celebration of my colleague Louis, yesterday evening, the whole crew spent a first good but quite cold night on Mars. This morning, we did our first physical training orchestrated by my amazing fellow crewmate Louis Mangin. It was a perfect preparation for our first morning in simulation. We were all busy this morning, everyone at his post: the LOAC experiment being fixed by Jérémy and the MegaARES experiment being assembled by Gabriel on the lower deck, the mission planning being determined upstairs after our first brainstorming ever on the Red Planet. With Jérémy, we spent some time, adjusting the spacesuit to put a camel bag with sugared water just in case of a hypoglycemia during his first EVA.

After only two days, the rehydrated food seems to be accepted and liked now (perhaps the birthday cake I cooked yesterday helped)! I was glad to discover that my fellow crewmember Benoit is a really good cooker! Let’s see what we will cook during our mission!

As I and Louis already took part in the simulation last year, Louis was our first EVA leader and I was Habcom in order to teach our new Martian crewmembers what we already know. With Louis, we gave a little briefing about the spacesuits and the EVA protocols but I am sure we will do better after some EVAs. The first EVA team went outside the Hab this afternoon and guess what? We managed to respect our time scheduling from the first EVA! The EVA team, led by Louis, managed to find a good spot for the MegaARES and LOAC experiments. We also tested the EVA Logger experiment of Louis and I am sure it will be a very helpful instrument during each EVA !

The EVA come back went well and they seemed already used to the equipment even if they experienced foggy helmets. After the EVA, we debriefed it to know the feelings of our new colleagues; each one worked on experiments and reports. The dinner will focus on the EVA debriefing and EVA objectives of tomorrow, with a new dry food gastronomic dish (I think the very nice smell of fresh bread I cooked will help again to make my crew like the dry food (tricky
commander?)).

As you can imagine, Sol 1 was especially encouraging! I cannot wait for tomorrow to explore again the red cliffs of Mars with this new amazing crew! After this first entire day in simulation, it is obvious that the whole crew is well installed on Mars! We will deploy our first experimentstomorrow, stay tuned!

Ad Astra!

Victoria Da-Poian,

Commander of the sportive Crew 189