MARS DESERT RESEARCH STATION

Sol Summary – February 14th

SOL SUMMARY REPORT
SOL 2

Person filling out Report: Louis MALLER, XO

Summary Title: Getting settled on Mars

Mission Status: Beginning of nominal activities in the Hab

Sol Activity Summary: sport, science work, engineering work, EVA briefing, PR brainstorming, making bread

Look Ahead Plan: Tomorrow will be our first EVA, looking for a deployment spot for the seismometer and doing exploration.

Anomalies in work: Missing material (soil and seeds, gloves – being taken care of)

Weather: very sunny

Crew Physical Status: Crewmembers experienced some symptoms due to dry atmosphere (parched lips, nose bleeding) but no serious discomfort.

EVA: /

Reports to be filed:
– Commander report
– Operations report
– Journalist report
– GreenHab Report
– Science report
– EVA request
– Astronomy Report

Sol Summary – February 10th

Sol Summary
Sol: 12
Earth Date: 02/10/2017
Written by : Sneha Velayudhan

Meet the Sunrise with Confidence – Crew 174!!

An exotic sunrise brought in a sense of enthusiasm among the crew members to start a new day on Mars. I noticed the sunrise and started asking the crew members to capture the beautiful sunrise on Mars. Soon Arpan and Saroj took their cameras and captured the sunrise from the hab. Thrilled by looking at the sunrise, I took a camera and rushed to the observatory area wearing the spacesuit to capture the sunrise.

As we are nearing the end of our mission, we have an urge to capture as many moments as we can while we are on Mars to take back with us memories that will last our life time and inspire the young minds. During our regular team briefing, we decided about the reports to be sent today and tomorrow. Saroj and Arun prepared for the EVA while Arpan and Mamatha helped them with the checklist and getting geared for the last EVA of our mission. Saroj is always excited for the EVA but today he seemed to be more excited as it was a windy day on Mars. Its a default weather condition (harsh and windy) when Arun and Saroj plan on an EVA!! They left for EVA with a rover and ATV. The hob was silent as Arpan, Mamatha and I were busy working on our experiments, Mamatha completed her sample collection inside the hab while I went to the green hab, watered the plants and studied the growth of fenugreek plants. I returned to the hab and started working on the reports while Mamatha and Arpan prepared yummy vegetable fried rice for lunch.

The weather was getting harsh and the EVA crew had passed the scheduled return time. This caused some concern but we laughed it out stating Saroj must be enjoying his EVA against windy conditions. After sometime we heard the noise of the ATV and there was some reception over the radio. We were happy that they were back as we were waiting for them to join us for lunch. As soon as they entered the hab, we were excited to ask about the EVA. During the lunch, it was all about the Martian winds blowing against them, the pictures they clicked, the view they saw from the EVA location and a real Martian EVA they had. The story was narrated by Saroj, they were at the first location ‘Yellow Moon’ looking for rock samples for Arun’s geology experiment. They finished the experiment, took pictures and while returning, the ATV did not start! that was a OMG moment for Saroj and Arun.
They were in the middle of an EVA, not in contact with the hab and the ATV was not starting 🙁 Tension was rising as they were thinking for an alternative solution to get back to the hab safely. They did have a rover with them but did not want to leave the ATV behind as that would have called for an unscheduled EVA. Finally, the Scientist  with his engineering background tried to start it, Saroj was able to adjust loose battery contact and start the ATV. Saroj mentions that this was a real Mars EVA for him as there were a lot of uncertainties which he had to handle along with the unfavorable weather.
The day ended with these stories, sharing pictures, planning the arrangements to welcome Crew 175 and other details about our mission completion.
Kind regards,
Mamatha

Sol Summary – February 9th

Sol Summary
Sol: 11
Earth Date: 02/09/2017
Written by : Sai Arun Dharmik (Crew Geologist)

“A happy life consists not in the absence, but in the, mastery of hardships”
                                                                                                                  -Helen Keller
The day started with a loud scream in a shrill voice of Sneha (crew biologist). I woke up from a dream and was very anxious about what could have happened. Well, it was Saroj (crew scientist) playing a prank on Sneha, as he hid in the air lock. Though I couldn’t recollect what I was dreaming about, I started wondering what could be like to dream on Mars. Some events that crossed my mind were, successfully cultivating on Mars, a huge dust storm hitting us, a starry night with new constellations, a highly unlikely visit by Aliens ? It was time for our daily briefing session and everyone gathered around the table and the commander started briefing about the activities scheduled for the day. Towards the end of briefing, it was time to assign the responsibility of reports to be sent to our CapCom on Earth. For the second time during the mission, I took up the responsibility to prepare Sol summary of the day.

As we are coming to the end of our mission, we were recalling our mission planning, preparation to reach Mars (MDRS Hab station) and our journey so far. The crew is proud to have made it to the ‘Mars’ and perform all the experiments as planned. Tasty breakfast consisting ‘Poha’ and tea was prepared by Arpan and Mamatha and Sneha.

The first task for the team was to prepare Arpan and Mamatha for the EVA which began at 10:30 hrs. The first activity of the EVA was to check for the status of the hab support system and then visit ‘Lith Canyon’ and ‘Zubrin’s head’. One of the main objective for the EVA was to simulate the application of drone in search of a crew member during an emergency situations and to collect soil samples for characterizing human commensal bacterial. This EVA also turned out to be one of the most successful for the crew, with all the mission objectives achieved as per the plan. Once the EVA crew left the hab, it was time for Sneha to water her plants and feed them with the entitled dosage of Vitamin D in the greenhab. At the same time, I was in the science dome studying the rock samples under the microscope and taking the magnetic susceptibility measurements of the samples collected during the previous EVAs.

After the EVA, everyone gathered for the lunch. It was pinto beans’ curry and rice today, prepared by Sneha and Saroj. During the lunch, the EVA crew members described the scenic locations they had explored and how they completed all the tasked successfully. Saroj was excited to explore the ‘Lith Canyon’ region after getting a good review from the EVA crew and described his plans for the last EVA (tomorrow) to be a memorable one.
Towards the end of the day, the entire crew was eagerly awaiting to update the mission support team on the day’s activities.

Sol Summary – February 7th

Sol Summary:
Prepared by: Arpan Vasanth
Sol: 09
Earth date: 02.07.2017
The day began with regular team briefing session, we planned both today’s and tomorrow’s activities as we have a media person from Germany visiting us tomorrow! Team briefings is always fun, since its scheduled in the early mornings when the crew is full of energy.Today for the second time we had a break from cereals for the breakfast, our chief chef Sneha had prepared a typical Indian dish to kick start our day! In parallel Arun, Saroj and myself cleaned the vacuum cleaner to remove the martian dust!

I geared up with Saroj and Sneha for planned EVA after the breakfast, the goal was to get the soil samples from the farthest point from the hab. The team had finalised upon the location to be as Lith Canyon, it was very important to go to a region that had negligible or no human presence from previous missions as we need a ‘pristine’ sample of the desert soil. The EVA team buckled up for an exciting Dakar rally session except that the rovers was electrical! Its Mars folk’s renewable energy is very crucial. I was nevertheless very excited as Lith Canyon is via Burpee Dinosaur Quarry, I am fascinated by Dinosaurs since childhood and could not wait to see one of the Quarry in person! The site was magnificent with lots of information about different species of Dinosaur fossils found over there along with clear instructions of do’s and dont’s.

We looked around for a while and hit the road again driving through couple of tricky sessions wherein Sneha had to get off the vehicle to ensure safety! As we continued the route opened up to a mirage and we were mesmerised by the view, soon the camera was in action and we took a lot of pictures! Myself and Saroj went ahead with the protocols to sterilise the hands before collecting the samples, we found a lot of ‘alien’ footsteps so we had a walk a lot to finalise the spot! The mission was half done and with just 50 percent power left in one of the rover, we had to carefully evaluate and work our way back to the hab! Finally, after a long drive we could sense home after getting a glimpse of beautiful science dome! This was so far the longest EVA of mine and a memorable one.
Next activity was to check all the vital parameters for safe functioning of the hab for the operations report! There is nothing as satisfying as a warm meal after one is back from cold EVA, normally the crew in the hab takes responsibility for organising lunch. Today however it was a double treat as the hab pump was replaced by DG too! We have made it a point to have food together from the Sol0 and I feel it’s the best time there will be lots of interesting stories to share! Post lunch everyone started to work on the reports, while Sneha and Mamatha were occupied in the Greenhab watering the plants and monitoring root and shoot height of fenugreek plant! Later in the evening, our commander was busy sewing everyone’s mission patch onto suits as the Velcro was not holding up well! As mentioned earlier we are visited by media from Germany tomorrow and the team is looking forward for it!

Sol Summary – February 6th

Sol Summary:
Prepared by: Saroj Kumar
Sol: 08
Earth date: 02.06.2017
‘Survival against martian storm’
One amongst many challenges the astronauts would face on Mars will be to survive the dust storms which occur about once in two years and last for many months. These storms are so huge that it can even be observed from Earth. We faced the similar condition today where unexpectedly the wind speeds were pretty high than usual. The crew could hear loud sound of wind hitting the hab ‘windows’ early in the morning.

The first activity for the day began as always is an early morning briefing at 0700 hrs, but actually some of us would be awake well before the dawn to get in touch with family and friends when the communication window with Earth is still open. The breakfast for the day was special ‘Aloo paratha’ (Potato stuffed Indian bread) with pickle and tea (a perfect north Indian ‘nashta’ :D) which was different from usual breakfast of cereals and powdered milk.

Soon after the breakfast, Arun and myself started preparing for our EVA. We had planned to visit four locations, which were sedimentary outcrops, reservoir dam, igneous field and candor chasma.
The moment we came out of the hab we realized that our exploration on Mars today will also include our fight against the heavy dust storm. We found sandstones and conglomerates in the region along with basalt. We also found a specific type of lichen in the sedimentary outcrop. We found that the name of the lichen is Heteroplacidum compactum as documented by one of the previous crews. As Arun worked on his geological study at sedimentry outcrop, I worked on the sampling protocols for planetary protection by testing the agility of my spacesuit. We also simultaneously discussed and tried to understand the kind of study and preparation required to do geological study on Mars. Around 12 noon, Arun started to feel uneasy after continuously working for about two hours and this made us decide to cut short our planned EVA. Upon our return to the hab, I was tasked to check the status of operations support equipment and this is when I found that due to heavy winds the tarpaulin on static water tank had almost flown away. Sneha joined me and we together placed the tarpaulin back on the static water tank by placing heavy rocks over and around the tank as a temporary solution.
The crew spent rest of the evening relaxing and had casual ‘Nitte’ discussions over chai. The dinner for the day is being prepared by Sneha and Arpan. Our tomorrow’s task will mainly be focused on outreach activities apart from conducting our regular experiments on Mars.
Ad Astra !!

Daily Summary – February 5th

Sol Summary
Sol: 07
Earth Date: 02.05.2017
Written by: Sneha Velayudhan (Crew Biologist)
Each day on Mars for the crew comes in with its own set of tasks, excitement and responsibility. Apart from our tasks on research activity we also have to make sure that the support systems for the hab are also in proper working condition. The day is carefully planned with team briefings early morning ;( The day started at 0700 hrs with briefing of the planned activities for the day. My day’s first task was to water the plants followed by a planned EVA. It was a fun day for the ladies in the crew as they were out for an EVA. The biggest question of the day was that the master chefs (Mamatha and myself) will be away and it had to be decided who will prepare the lunch?? !!! Saroj, our Scientist reluctantly took up the responsibility due to his lack of experience in cooking.
Today’s EVA was planned to be performed by Mamatha, Arpan and myself. The EVA preparation started at 1000 hrs, the first task was to pump water, dispose trash and perform regular checks for healthy operations of the Hab. The team left for one of the most exciting EVAs with the task to perform drone experiment and soil sample collection. We had to drive more than a mile from the hab as there is an airport nearby! The drones have the tendency to create excitement among all age groups, this task was challenging as we were in sim mode and that made the pre-flight checks and navigation trickier. Mars has unfriendly terrain that makes EVAs risky, the idea here was to use drone to get a glimpse of the actual terrain of the planned EVA site ahead. The mission was quite successful as the crew could sense the rough terrain that was not supporting the soil sample collection task and avoided the same for a new location! More such operations will be carried out in the coming week’s EVAs and the results will be summarised during the end of the mission!
During our EVA, Saroj and Arun spent 2.5 hours preparing ‘dal fry’ (Lentils curry) and mixed vegetable curry. This is not an exaggeration but the fact!! Each ingredient added to the curry was rigorously tested by Scientist’s taste buds. Surprisingly the lunch turned out to be tasty and the hard work was much appreciated by others. The tired crew took a short afternoon nap. In the evening, Arpan vacuumed the living space while Saroj made Chai. Rest of the evening was spent preparing documents and planning for the next day’s activities.
Thanks,
Mamatha

Daily Summary – February 4th

Daily Summary
Sol-06
Earth Date: 02.04.2017
By: Saroj Kumar (Executive Officer and Crew Scientist)

‘A scheduled birthday and unscheduled EVA’s on Mars’
The Sol-06 had started with much awaited birthday celebration of our commander Mamatha at 00:00 hrs ‘Mars time’. During the mission any small celebration makes the bonding among crew members even stronger, this always helps in co-ordinating and improves decision making during unexpected stressful events. Well, the responsibilities for the birthday celebration were divided among the rest of the crew. Our Master Chef Sneha and Arpan had prepared a crazy looking but delicious cake. Myself and Sai Arun took up the responsibility to blow the balloons. The only challenge for us during this activity was to look for pink color balloons which is the favorite color of birthday girl, I was glad that we could find two such amongst the yellow ones. The crew celebrated the birthday and enjoyed the cake with pineapple toppings. The complete blockage of water supply in the hab due to pump failure was a shocker towards the end of the celebration. It was decided that Arpan and I will have to go on an unscheduled EVA before the sunrise to restore the water supply.
As per the plan, we got ready for early morning EVA at 06:00 hrs. It was still dark outside and the lamps were of hardly any use due to its glare on our helmets, fogging was again a big issue which reduced the visibility further. After the tiring EVA lasting for about an hour, we could store sufficient amount of water in the hab for our early morning use. Situations like this help us understand how even small engineering issues on Mars could lead us to take instantaneous  decisions while mission support team is out of communication window from Earth. The planned EVA was cancelled due to an unexpected EVA in order to resolve water issues plus one of the crew memebers had severe backache – Health and Safety issues always take priority over other activities in all manned missions.
Our lunch for the day was special ‘Vegetable Pulao’ prepared by Mamatha. I had quietly sneaked into my bed for a short afternoon nap after a tiring early morning EVA and the delicious lunch. Arpan, Mamatha and Sneha continued to work on water supply issues and finally figured out a temporary solution which would avoid us having EVA’s only to supply water. The rest of the evening was spent on discussing the status of every crew member’s activity and getting ready for another exciting day to explore ‘Mars’.
Ad Astra!!
Thanks,
Mamatha

Sol Summary – February 3rd

Daily Summary

By: Saroj Kumar (Executive Officer and Crew Scientist)

Sol-05

Earth Date: 02.03.2017

Finally, after few delays due to unavoidable reasons our commander had joined the mission. The crew was all pumped and was looking for a wonderful and a busy day with many activities. With most the schedule decided an evening before the crew was ready for the first morning briefing with the commander at 7:30 AM.  Today’s schedule was completely packed with many activities such as collecting soil samples to characterize the transference of human commensal bacteria around the hab, monitoring of fenugreek plants in the greenhab, geological study on sample ‘Mars rocks’ collected during previous EVA’s, repairing of overhead water pump and finally ‘Team Planeteers’ official group photos. With lots to work on in the next couple of hours the team needed a perfect breakfast. We had cereals with powdered milk and a ‘Kadak Chai’ (Strong Tea). The team also had delicious ‘Gulab Jamun’ (Indian desert food) prepared by Sneha as a mark of celebration on our commander’s arrival.

Soon after the breakfast the team had planned to take official group pictures and believe me after all the permutations and combinations of the crew members for a perfect group photo, the complete session turned out to be more tiresome than all of my previous EVA’s. We do believe it’s equally important to share our work via pictures and reports so that we can ignite the spark of human space exploration among young minds. We soon started working on our respective tasks after the group photo and had short lunch. Sai Arun was trying to study the rock compositions and its formation from the samples collected during previous EVA’s. Sneha is continuously monitoring her fenugreek plants in greenhab and misian Mars lamp. We all are very excited to see the plant growth and just can’t wait to have fresh fenugreek and potato curry sometime soon 🙂

Our today’s EVA was one of the most technically challenging, we had to make sure we do not contaminate the soil samples by directly exposing ourselves into it and still collect the samples by only scratching the ‘Mars’ surface. In every EVA we try to study the challenges faced and make sure we do not to do any mistake where we would die on a real harsh Martian environment. In spite of all the difficulties faced during the EVA, I believe we finally did not do anything which would be catastrophic on a real mission and completed the EVA successfully. Finally, our last task for the day was to repair the overhead water pump.

Ad Astra !!

 

Sol Summary – February 2nd

Sol Summary-04
Earth Date: 02.02.2017
Finally the day was here when our Commander Mamatha joined us 🙂
should mention it as the most awaited day of our mission!! After a
long night of discussions about how to pick her, how to communicate
with her, who should go and when to go, it was decided that Saroj and
Arpan would go to pick her while Sneha and Arun will stay in the hab
performing the experiments. Saroj known as our official driver, not to
forget the second in command was planning the activities to be done
while they were away.
It must have been a long night for Arun as he worked all night reading
materials for his geological research. As morning came in, the crew
woke up as usual and started with the normal duties. Water supply to
the hab was still and issue, water was filled in vessels and stored
for use. Last night we had received instructions on how to clean the
filter, Saroj was trying hard to download and read them, unfortunately
he was not able to download all the steps as the internet was very
slow this morning. Three crew members had breakfast together while the
fourth was asleep. After breakfast and some discussion about the day,
some music, jokes and fun. It was a fun filled day as we were excited
about the arrival of Commander. Sneha went to the green hab watered
the plants spent time doing her experiment. Saroj and Arpan prepared
lunch. It was an early lunch as they had to leave to Green River.
After the operations check, the reports were prepared. After lunch
Saroj and Arpan got ready to leave to pick up Mamatha. The second in
command was so excited that it was decided the two men would follow
the protocol and wear jump suits to receive the commander !!! Sneha
did comment that when the Commander sees this, she would also love to
wear the jump suit and join the team before driving to Mars 🙂
After they left, it was a very long day on Mars, Arun was reading his
materials and noting the places for his next EVA. Sneha remained in
the hab and was trying to make some bread for the next few days. The
bread turned out to be disastrous 🙁 The long day came to an end when
Mamatha arrived on Mars. There is excitement, screams of joy, reunion
of friends after 2 years. Its really exciting now.

Sol Summary – January 31st

Crew 174 Daily Summary Sol – 02
We started our day with a positive news of our Crew Commander’s arrival! After the breakfast the crew members geared up for the planned activities. The first EVA experience came handy today, the preparation time of wearing EVA suits and checking radio communications was short. As per our planned EVA, the crew biologist and scientist quickly left for the same. The geological map of Mars was studied in prior to mark locations for soil collection. The EVA lasted around 2 hours and 30 mins, during the EVA the crew was able to look for 5 different types of soil in color and texture. They captured photos and videos of the red planet. The crew returned to the hab after the regular hab operations checks. In parallel, crew in the hab prepared lunch and communicated with the EVA team when needed. After EVA return, the crew members had lunch and rested.
Later, Arpan and Saroj helped Sneha organize the soil collection and prepare the pots to plant the seeds with the Martian and Earth soil with added Vitamin D, to observe their growth patterns in controlled conditions. After the soil prep, the team started to work on the reports and planned activities for tomorrow.