MARS DESERT RESEARCH STATION

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
today.

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
samples.

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

Commander Report – March 13th

Crew 176 Commander’s Report 13 March 2017
Natalia Zalewska
Commander Report
13 March 2017 – Sol 2

Dear Mission Support,

This morning we woke up a bit earlier, that is around 8:00 am. We had a
quick breakfast together and we started ATVs training at 9:30 under the
supervision of Shannon. After explaining us all the rules regarding how to
use the AVTs and rovers as well as where to go, we were given some free
time to explore the surroundings and better familiarise ourselves with the
vehicles. We truly enjoyed it and viewed it a useful team-building
exercise.

We came back around 12:30 and had lunch together. All of us find it
interesting to try different powder-based foods. During the day, we were
also extremely happy to find a way to flush the toilet efficiently (if the
solution proves to work in a long run, we will pass it to the crew who
will come after us).

After lunch, I proceeded with collecting some geological samples. We also
successfully worked with Shannon Rupert on fixing the tunnel. Moreover
Shannon give our Green House Officer additional instructions on planting.
Then we took photographs of the entire crew with the Polish and Martian
flags to announce the opening of the full isolation that will start
tonight.

This evening, we are planning to retrain ourselves on how to use medical
devices we brought for testing. The testing will start tomorrow, along
with the EVA activities.

In conclusion, it was another busy and very interesting day for us at MDRS.

Best regards,

Natalia Zalewska
Commander, MDRS Crew 176

Commander Report – March 2nd

Dear Earth,


There is no such thing as silence.

Sometimes it is good to take a break from all the noise inside the
Hab: we are constantly surrounded by the deep hum of the diesel
generator, the regular drop hammer of the water pump, the proverbial
quarrelling of the card game (“why on earth did you throw away that
ace of spades?!”), the occasional scratch of the walkie talkies, the
hunger-triggering rotation of the bread machine…
That might partly explain why Xavier wanted to perform Sol 18’s EVA
with the radios turned off. Other explanation: it allowed him to take
notes on how natural is the set of gestures we established, based on
scuba diving. The EVA had three main objectives: first, I tested the
newly-implemented vocal recorder of the AR glasses during the
engineering check, given that we could not transmit the measurements
to the Hab.

Then, Xavier took the lead to investigate the area where the balloon
was last seen. Still silently, Mouâdh, Xavier and I recovered the
anchor and the rope that had visibly been violently pulled out of the
balloon’s platform. No more evidence have been found on the balloon’s
destiny, but it is likely to have fallen down at night when the air
inside could no longer be heated by the sun. Given the wind direction
yesterday, it must have gone south of our settlement, many miles away.

The final task we performed was to recover the seismometer before the
end of the mission. The briefing we did yesterday was precise enough
to allow us to pack everything silently and go back to the Hab with an
ATV and a rover. In the end, it appears that we were perfectly able to
communicate instructions with gestures only, if we were correctly
prepared. Normally in such a situation with all the radios off, the
safest decision would be to abort the EVA and go back to the Hab, but
it seemed important to test it and improve our protocols.

At noon we figured out that we had just enough dehydrated eggs left to
mix them with flour, sugar and milk, following the traditional French
recipe of crêpes. The psychological effect was overwhelmingly
positive, in these times of end-of-mission food shortage.

The afternoon was very calm, everyone working on his part of the
Mission Summary Report, listing the results of our experiments and
repairs. It seems that we have been very inspired: now we have to cut
half of the text to meet the format required!


Ad Astra!
Arthur Lillo
Commander of the silent Crew 175

Commander Report – March 1st

Dear Earth,


We are now on Sol 17, really close to the end of our mission, which is
planned on Sol 19 in the afternoon.

As we begin to feel the fatigue, we decided to postpone the physical
training to the evening. Mouâdh led the EVA of this morning, which was
dedicated to the deployment of the balloon for the next 24 hours.
Simon, Louis Maller and I joined him to handle this quite voluminous
experiment. We anchored it about 200m north of the Hab, where we could
monitor it from the kitchen’s window. The Optinvent AR glasses were
also tested by Louis during the EVA, and worked well during the
engineering check: he could take pictures from inside his helmet and
Victoria was able to see from inside the Hab what he was seeing
outdoors.

The balloon experiment was unfortunately aborted after lunch, when we
noticed that we could no longer see the black 5-meter wide sphere. We
have two explanations for that: either the balloon was tore apart by
the nearby rocks when the wind pushed him to the ground; or most
likely the balloon escaped its anchor and flew away to its heavenly
destiny. Luckily, at the end of the EVA we had recovered the GoPro
that was filming from inside the platform. The only device that was
lost with the balloon is our Arduino, dedicated to atmospheric
measurements. On tomorrow’s EVA we will investigate the cause of this
loss, and hopefully we find the platform crashed somewhere around the
Hab (I have doubts about it though).

In the afternoon we did an important briefing concerning tomorrows’s
EVA, because it will be a little particular: we will do the entire EVA
without using the walkie talkies, to test our non verbal communication
protocols inspired by scuba diving gestures. Thus, we need to know by
heart how and when to perform our tasks, since it will be nearly
impossible to explain complex ideas. Quite a challenging EVA in
perspective!


Ad Astra!
Arthur Lillo
Commander of the balloon-liberating Crew 175

Commander Report – February 28th

Dear Earth,

Today we broke the routine and planned a short EVA in the afternoon.
Thus, there was no need to wake up at 7 AM: we began our physical
training two hours later than usual, after a long and restful night.
For the rest of the morning, we did some work, took time for ourselves
and cooked.

The EVA began at 2 PM and lasted only one hour. Its purpose was to do
the engineering check and take more pictures of the emergency
positions that we rehearsed two Sols ago. Simon and Xavier did the
first-aid moves while Louis Mangin was holding the camera.

After the EVA, there was a studious mood in the Hab. Louis Maller
managed to control the Optinvent AR glasses using head movement,
Simon and Xavier selected the pictures for the abstract they are
writing, Mouâdh installed the CCD camera on the telescope and got
familiar with all its operation, Louis Mangin edited the video
presenting our rotation, Victoria helped him and wrote down a set of
suggestions about what could be added or changed in the station, and I
worked on my internship report.

We have three Sols left on this beautiful but deadly planet, so we
have to finish our experiments quickly, before our departure. Luckily,
the wind will be low enough tomorrow to deploy the balloon, it was
right about time!

Ad Astra!
Arthur Lillo
Commander of the serious Crew 175

Commander Report – February 27th

Dear Earth,

Sol 15: The 8th Passenger

Today, a famous physicist sent by the BBC space station (Betelgeuse
Broadcasting Company) honored us of his presence. He joined the crew
for our typical tasks: morning EVA to check the seismometer and
explore the vicinity, engineering check, cooking, EVA debriefing,
experiments in the GreenHab and the Science Dome… Luckily, we had
enough stock to feed eight crewmembers, and our guest could even enjoy
our daily Belgian chocolate (Xavier’s gift to the crew).

The 8th passenger left our little haven in the middle of the
afternoon, since he had more martian bases to visit along his trip. It
was really nice to see a new face after two weeks confined with the
same people. Moreover, he brought with him some news from Earth, and
introduced new subjects to our conversations (which otherwise would
work in closed loop). Not a bad thing, since we are almost running out
of complains about the imperial system.


Ad Astra!
Arthur Lillo
Commander of the CelebriTeam 175

Commander Report – February 26th

Dear Earth,


Yesterday’s misadventures made us realize that we needed to take a
break. We had been doing our thirty-minutes physical training every
single Sol since our arrival, at 7 AM before breakfast, and almost an
EVA every morning. It was maybe too much, so today we decided to wake
up later: on Sol 14, no early workout, some sort of brunch, and an EVA
planned for the afternoon instead of the morning. That is what a
Sunday on Mars should look like.

The EVA was dedicated to emergency procedures. After a quick briefing
on lower deck, Xavier led his four EVA buddies outdoors. Mouâdh, Louis
Maller and I tested a set of first-aid positions on Xavier who was
supposed to be a fainted or injured astronaut, while Simon was taking
pictures of the scene in order to make a tutorial. The most difficult
part was to put the unconscious body of Xavier on the rear of the
rover, but after some unsuccessful tries using ropes, we managed to
put him in recovery position and carry him around the Hab’s parking
area.

Later, we did a general cleaning of the Hab, for it to be ready when
our guest astronaut from the BBC arrives tomorrow. Indeed, we have the
privilege to have the british physicist Brian Cox joining our crew for
one Sol. We are eager to meet him!

Ad Astra!
Arthur Lillo
Commander of the emergency-ready Crew 175