Commander REport – March 27th

Commander Report Crew 177:
Otsmar Villarroel, Commander
Sol 2
Earth date: 3/27/2017
Today the crew awoke around 7:00 am and enjoyed the morning playlist courtesy of Caleb. Lead Engineer, Elijah Espinoza, took care of filling the water tanks for our future water consumption in the HAB.  We are very glad that water issue was solved.

After breakfast, the morning EVA left the hab at 9:11 am for Candor Chasma to complete the first Chemistry EVA.  Commander Otsmar, Engineer Elijah, Chemist Joseph, Biologist Pitchayapa, and I spent most of the morning in the canyon trying to find water.  On Earth, this molecule, made up of three atoms, is many times associated with life. While expeditioners could not find the presence of this vital molecule in its more stable state, under normal conditions, it was evident that water was part of that beautiful scene some time ago.  The existence of beautiful geological structures, presumably sculpted by the power of water, were observed along with the presence of gypsum, CaSO4*2H2O, which support our ideas.  Some unidentified animals’ (we hope) footprints were observed as well as some plants, trees, flowers, and cacti. We also discovered an interesting cave that showed signs of nesting by some unknown creature.  Crew returned safely at approximately 11:31 am.  Right after arriving, Elijah checked the ATVs gas level and then proceeds to fill them.

After taking lunch together, the crew spent the afternoon doing individual research and reviewing our media training in preparation for the NPR reporter that will be spending part of the day with us tomorrow.  We all are very excited about that visit and ready to share our experiences here at MDRS as well as talk about our mission and projects.

Engineer, Elijah, went out to complete his daily routine, making sure everything is working as expected.

After dinner, crew discussed about tomorrow’s plan.

Otsmar Villarroel
177 Crew Commander

Commander Report – March 26th

Crew 177 Commander’s Report 26 March 2017 Otsmar Villarroel Commander Report

26 March 2017 Sol 1

Today we officially entered sim at approximately 10:40 am after saying goodbye to the Poland Crew 176. After getting the space suits on and following the pressurization protocols, at about 1115 local time first EVA group left the HAB to complete their day’s EVA 1 duties.  We conducted two orientation EVAs. First group was led by Otsmar Villarroel while second group by Becky Parker. Both EVA groups (morning and afternoon) gained experience driving ATVs as well as using GPS navigation while staying in sim. Also both EVAs focus on helping orient crew members to their surroundings, learn major landmarks along the main ATV road Besides discovering the presence of another form of life other than us on this planet- Martian cows- crew members observed:

  • Ancient sand dunes
    • Caprock erosion from wind and water (mass wasting)
    • A mushroom shaped hoodoo
    • A creek bed exhibiting signs of efflorescence
    • A field of gypsum bordering a substantial quantity of bivalve fossils

During EVA 1, the crew remaining in the hab cleaned and organized the hab, completed and updated the food inventory and took care of lunch.  Also, both Elijah and Victoria started assembling their rover after taking it apart for travel.  The crew came together for lunch.


Second group left the HAB at 1510 local time.  During EVA 2, the crew remaining inside the hab worked on reports, research, updated the first aid kit inventory and made some bread.  Esteban spent part of the afternoon re-assembling his power generator after taking it apart for travel.  After arriving from second EVA, Engineer Elijah Espinoza completed his routine engineering round.


Dinner menu includes macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, and broccoli prepared by Head Chef Quaas with the assistance of Victoria LaBarre. Our plan for tomorrow includes media training, independent research, and, pending approval, a Chemistry EVA in the morning to Candor Chasma.

Crew members feel motivated and ready to face more challenges here on Mars.  However, the lack of water in the HAB has become a big issue keeping the whole crew worry.  Crew members requested more water and we expect this issue get solved anytime soon.  We are doing our best to save as much water as we can, but it is not an easy task for a crew of 8 people.
Crew 177
Crew Commander
Otsmar Villarroel

Commander Report – March 25th

Crew 176 Commander’s Report 25 March 2017
Natalia Zalewska
Commander Report
25 March 2017 – Sol 14

Dear Mission Support,

This was our last day at MDRS. We have EVA scheduled for this afternoon,
however, due to the poor weather conditions and the workload related to
packing up, we decided to cancel it and finish the simulation today.

In the morning, we worked on the video recordings. Green Hab Officer the
two crew members went to Grand Junction to pick up a rental car we will
use to transport the robot and other equipment. We finished cleaning the
upper and lower deck as well as helmets. In the afternoon we hosted Crew
177. We were happy to explain our guests how to run and maintain the MDRS
campus as well as what are the rules to follow when using ATVs and
engaging in EVAs. The evening was particularly long as we needed to finish

The crew is in a great mood, as it always is. We are also grateful to Mars
Society for the Spirit and Opportunity we have been provided at MDRS!

Best regards,

Natalia Zalewska
Commander, MDRS Crew 176



Commander Report Crew 177:
Otsmar Villarroel
Sol 1
Earth date: 03/25/2017

Good evening!

Today we met the very helpful Crew 176 at MDRS.  Upon arrival at the hab, crew members were trained by Crew 176 members.  Training included a brief tour around the MDRS facilities as well as over use of the ATVs, operation report data, water leak issue, etc.  After the training we went to Bull Mountain Market to pick up our food according to the inventory sent by crew 176 as requested by Shannon.

We’ve made a plan for tomorrow, which will include, pending approval, our Orientation EVAs. We are expecting to enter sim tomorrow morning at 9:30 am, if possible.

From Crew 177; Hanksville, UT
Crew Commander

Commander’s Report – March 23rd

Crew 176 Commander’s Report 23 March 2017
Natalia Zalewska
Commander Report
23 March 2017 – Sol 12

Dear Mission Support,

While we are heading to the end of our mission, we continue to maintain
our daily routine. Thus, we woke up today in the morning, had a breakfast
together as well as some of us completed psychological tests. We made sure
holter monitors work but due to the increasing fatigue of the entire team,
we skipped the sport activities.

Despite poor weather conditions, we undertook EVA as planned. This time
the crew members stayed in the close proximity of the habitat without the
need to use ATVs. The main focus was on the use of the rover Ares 2,
including in the role of the support tool when collecting geological

The Crew Engineer spent a significant amount of time working on the rover
and a corresponding trailer, and the Green Hab Officer was happy to
discover new plants in the pots. Also, just as every day, the entire crew
worked on preparing audio-visual data for both education and outreach

Starting from tomorrow, we will work on packing our staff, cleaning the
habitat and we will get mentally ready to leave. Our mood and teamwork is
still very good.

Best regards,

Natalia Zalewska
Commander, MDRS Crew 176

Commander Report – March 21st

Crew 176 Commander’s Report 21 March 2017
Natalia Zalewska
Commander Report
21 March 2017 – Sol 10

Dear Mission Support,

Our daily routine remained unchanged today. We woke up in the morning and
had a breakfast together, oats with dried fruits, as usual. Afterwards
some of us completed psychological tests and then the selected members of
the crew got ready for EVA and left. EVAs continue to be the most
interesting tasks we undertake at MDRS in terms of research, technology
and documentation-related activities and constitute one of the main
subjects of our discussions. Personally, I find EVAs a rare opportunity
for undertaking very interesting geological research.

We had lunch together and took some rest. In the afternoon we proceeded
with working on the audio-visual content for the mass media, including
taking photographs and video recordings in the MDRS hab. We were glad to
have the Internet connection back (at least for a while) and online
communication with Mission Support re-established. Also, the Green Hab
Officer was happy to learn there are two more plants visible in the pots,
all of the belonging to the Zinnia flowers family.

We expect to have the Internet issues fully solved by tomorrow. We will
proceed with EVA and documentation activities, as well as my analysis of
geological samples. We will also continue to test the robot. We are aware
that the weather conditions will deteriorate but we hope it won’t
affect our EVAs.

Bets regards,

Natalia Zalewska
Commander, MDRS Crew 176

Commander Report – March 20th

Dear Mission Support,

Week no. 2 started a bit differently than usual for us. We started the day
from repairing the tunnel that got damaged by strong wind yesterday.
Afterwards we had a breakfast and we undertook our daily psychological
tests and sport activities.

During the day, we proceeded with the maintenance activities as we
enlarged the ditch in front of the habitat to release the leak. It took us
quite some time. Then we had lunch together and took some rest. We did not
plan any EVA for today because we could not send the EVA request a day
before due to the failed Internet connection.

In the afternoon, some of us proceeded with psychological tests and
documentation of our mission. The Green Hab Officer was very excited to
learn that one of the seeds has turned into a plant. She brought the pot
to the hab, so that all of could share her excitement. Also, we were happy
to see that the Internet connection was back. Unfortunately it did not
last for long and we were left with no Internet again in the evening and
without the possibility to send our report.

The overall mood of the crew is good although we are still worried about
the issues with the Internet which makes it difficult for us to
communicate with Mission Support and the rest of our team in Poland.


Natalia Zalewska
Commander, MDRS Crew 176

Commander Report – March 18th

Unlike yesterday, we woke up quite early today, i.e. around 7:00 am. We did not have the sport training planned for today but the three of us undertook EVA in the morning and brought a small robot in the field. Right after coming back from EVA, two persons dig a trench in front of the habitat to release the leak (the puddle becomes bigger and bigger every day).

Since the entire crew has been increasingly tired, we decided to take more time than usual to relax. We spent time together on watching the photographs we have taken so far as well as we discussed potential future developments for our team in terms of analog missions.

In the afternoon, Crew Engineers worked on the habitat maintenance in relation to the pomp and the backdoor, while the Green Hab Officer cleaned the space suits. Afterwards, we developed a schedule for tomorrow that focuses mainly on preparing and sending the content for the mass media.

The crew successfully relaxed today and is ready for intense work tomorrow.

Natalia Zalewska
Commander, MDRS Crew 176

Commander Report – March 17th

Crew 176 Commander’s Report 17 March 2017
Natalia Zalewska
Commander Report
17 March 2017 – Sol 6

Dear Mission Support,

Today we woke up a bit later than usual, that is around 9:00 am. All crew
starts feeling a bit tired but the mood is still good. We undertook our
morning sport training, as usual, and some of us completed psychological
tests. From the very morning, we continued to use holter monitors.
Afterwards, we had a breakfast together and discussed the agenda for

During the day we cleaned the kitchen and we proceeded with our daily
tasks assigned to each member. In particular, Crew Engineer continued
testing the small robot Gaia for the purposes of the tomorrow’s EVA
and Green Hab Officer did some works in the Green Hab. I prepared tools
for data collection and a preliminary framework for the analysis of the

In the afternoon the three of us participated in EVA. Each time when we
get ready for EVA we face serious issues with communication setups that
are hard to explain and they cause delays. In the course of EVA, we went
to the Murphy’s canyon and were very excited to find petrified wood,
as expected (I remembered that spot from the previous mission I was part
of). I also found interesting pieces of gypsum and silica and the places I
had visited 12 years ago while being on the mission at MDRS. I was curious
to verify the degree of erosion that occurred over the last decade in
those spots.

We had no problems with the habitat facilities today. Collaboration within
the five-member team is good, just as it was when we were in four.

Best regards,

Natalia Zalewska
Commander, MDRS Crew 176

Commander Report – March 15th

Crew 176 Commander’s Report 15 March 2017
Natalia Zalewska
Commander Report
15 March 2017 – Sol 4

Dear Mission Support,

This morning we woke up around 9:10 am due to long hours day before. Two
remaining crew members (Jedrzej Gorski XO and me) did morning sport
exercises which are part of holter testing. The training started at 9:30
am and lasted for 35 min.

After the training we had a quick breakfast and the two of us, including
myself, came back to organisation duties related to EXO 17 project
promotion and organisation.

In the meantime, the our Crew Engineer & Green Hab Officer reported that
they are on their way back from Salt Lake City with our fifth team member
(Krzysztof Jedrzejak) along with our cargo. They should arrive around
midnight. Request for EVA #2 which will serve as a training for Krzysztof
has been submitted today.

The strategy we have invented for flushing the toilet continues to work
based on XO experience.

Best regards,

Natalia Zalewska
Commander, MDRS Crew 176

Commander Report – March 14th

Dear Mission Support,

This morning we woke up even earlier than before, i.e. at 7:15 am. This
was because we needed to wear holter monitors and make them work. We also
did morning sport exercises that are part of holter testing. The training
started at 8:50 am and lasted for 35 min. We are planning to repeat the
training every day.

After the training we had a quick breakfast and the two of us, including
myself, got ready for the EVA. The EVA was scheduled for 10:00 am,
however, due to the communication issues, we left the hab at 10:20 am (for
detailed information see the EVA Report). Due to the heat we experienced
due to the EVA, both of us felt tired and took a nap after coming back to
the hab.

In the meantime, the Crew Engineer worked on a small mobile robot for
approximately 2 hours and the Green Hab Officer spent around 1 hour
working in the Green Hab. We had a late lunch at 4 pm. The strategy we
have invented for flushing the toilet continues to work.

In the afternoon, the two of the crew members, namely Crew Engineer &
Green Hab Officer took a rental car and went to Salt Lake City to pick the
last member of the crew up and collect the delayed package (the latter
includes such things as the rover Ares 2, tools and equipment). They will
be back tomorrow (15th of March).

Best regards,

Natalia Zalewska
Commander, MDRS Crew 176