EVA Report – January 4th

Author: Cesare Guariniello

Purpose of EVA: Visit the regions of Beige Moon and Yellow Moon, collect samples of salts

Destination: Yellow Moon

UDM27 Coordinates:
515700 E
4254200 N

Participants: Cesare, Melanie, Mark, Samuel

Narrative: This EVA brought the crew for the first time Northwest of the habitat, in the region of The Moons (White Moon, Beige Moon, Gray Moon, Yellow Moon). After egressing the habitat airlock, the EVA crew members spent about fifteen minutes strapping and securing the spectrometer case and the geology toolbox to the ATVs. This simple activity was very instructive about the difficulties of performing simple tasks when donning bulky gloves and a space suit, being able to communicate only via radio, while always “thinking like a Martian” (for example, this means slow and accurate movements, paying attention to the safety of all crew members).

Due to the low temperature, the crew had to use the choker to start the ATVs. However, despite warming the 300, its engine quit multiple times. Since the EVA had multiple stops planned, the crew decided not to use the 300, and instead added a third 350 (vehicles used were the Honda, 350.1, 350.2, and 350.3). The ride North was quite slow, due to the presence of a delicate, expensive instrument.

Once again, the crew did not spot the unmarked road (in this case, Hwy 1572), and went further North to the end of the ATV road. This detour gave the crew the first spectacular sight: on the way back towards Hwy 1572, the crew drove through the Glistening Seas, and the position of the Sun showed how appropriate this name is. The whole plain was sparkly with reflections from gypsum crystals, which gave a sense of awe. In the middle of the Glistening Seas, the EVA crew spotted the location of Hwy 1572 and followed it towards Yellow Moon. Upon reaching the location and parking the ATVs, the crew geologist began his collection of samples, while other EVA crew members explored the area. The magnificent landscape, open to the East on the red Morrison formation, and shadowed to the West by the brown rims of Mancos shale, prompted a discussion within the EVA crew to discuss about the possibility of reaching the Martian Moons.

Due to the delays at the beginning of the EVA, the crew had to turn around after just 40 minutes in the field. On the way back, two more stops for collection of geological samples were added, before the crew stopped at Mount Nutella (see photos of the day) to climb the sand dune and look at the formations from the top of the mount. Melanie lost communication at this point, but this did not cause any problem: she was put in the middle of the ATVs convoy, and the EVA party was already enroute to the habitat. Upon returning, while Melanie refueled the ATVs and tested the 300 (which worked, since it had warmed up), and Cesare unstrapped the tools, the crew was welcomed by a new pet: the NorCal Mars Society’s rover Phoenix!! The EVA crew played with it for a little bit, before ingressing the airlock to end this astonishing EVA.

EVA Report – January 3rd

Author: Max Fagin

Purpose of EVA: Photographic survey and geological samples of the previously unexplored region to the North East of Maxwell Montes, direction radio experiment, Ham radio repeater communications testing

Destination: North East of Maxwell Montes

UDM27 Coordinates:

521750 E

4254500 N

Participants: Max Fagin, Kshitij Mall, Melanie Grande, Justin Mansell

Narrative: The region to the North East of Maxwell Montes had been indicated to us as a region that no MDRS crew had ever explored. Far be it from us to turn down a chance to go boldly where no one has gone before, we had to perform a photographic survey and bring back some samples to plan for a more detailed investigation later in our mission. And the region did not disappoint. After a 55-minute rover ride followed by a 40-minute hike, we reached the edge of a box canyon which contained a stratified cut covering 50-million years of the Jurassic, so perfectly formed it could be in a textbook (see our photo of the day). The long range of the EVA meant we could only spend 45 minutes on site collecting samples and taking photographs, but we have resolved to return to the region before our mission is over. Next time, we will come armed with two tools we didn’t have this time: 1) Our crew geologist, 2) A mapped out route for getting to the bottom of the canyon to see prehistory up close.

Throughout this EVA, we communicated both through the regular MDRS commercial radios, and through the Hanksville ham radio repeater. Both communication methods had dropouts, but the dropouts rarely overlapped, serving as an effective backup to each other as a way to maintain contact with the hab and the EVA team. This exact solution cannot be implemented on Mars, but a ham radio repeater is a fair analog for the site-to-site communications loop in place through a synchronous communications satellite. A colleague once told me that you can fix any problem with a spacecraft as long as you still have communications and power, and future Mars explorers will likely rely on multiple redundant modes of communication to keep that truism true.

Given our experience from the previous EVA, we elected to make this EVA with the 4 exo-suits, rather than the traditional MDRS suits. They met and exceeded our expectations for remaining comfortable for a long EVA, and the rest of the crew are eager to try them out. Having zero load on our shoulders is a welcome relief, and the limiting factor was really how long you could have your head in the suit without scratching your nose or taking a drink.

On the latter matter (thirst), we tested out a partial solution. It is our crew’s policy to carry a case of water with us in the rover’s trunk on EVAs to treat any case of dehydration. Drinking such water would be breaking sim as we would have to doff the suits to drink it. However, the ability for an EVA suit to provide the occupant with a drink without doffing the suit is already existing technology, we simply haven’t implemented it at MDRS yet. The neck ring design of the old MDRS suits makes the use of a camelback a bit ungainly, but the exosuits are perfectly shaped for it. By feeding the tube of my camelback through the vent in the suit and securing it with a twist tie, I was able to keep the port within easy reach of my mouth for the entire EVA. This solution can’t be permanent, as it would require MDRS participants to share camelbacks, but I have extensively photographed the solution and will be taking it back to the NorCal Mars Society as a proposal to try in future suits (perhaps if MDRS participants wanted to bring their own camelback). I certainly appreciated it.

On the way back, Kshitij and Melanie dropped us off at a point where we had identified on the way out, and proceeded back to the hab. Justin took out his direction radio beacon, and I faded into the background as he began his “lost astronaut” experiment. Using a Yagi antenna to determine his bearing on the hab, he began walking in the general direction while I shadowed him with a gps to check his route. After stopping 3-4 times to recover his bearings and making his way through a narrow canyon where the signal was interrupted, we climbed a hill and spotted the hab directly ahead of us in the distance! This was just a preliminary test, as we both had a fair idea of where the hab was, but on future EVAs, the test will become more challenging, eventually culminating with the test subject starting from a location where they don’t know their bearing on the hab.

Extra commendations to our EVA controller Cesare, for managing three radios while we were out and about, and finding time to suit up and join us for a 1 hour “get ahead” engineering EVA that we began when we found ourselves back at the hab an hour earlier than expected.

Note on our route: We misread the map legend indicating which roads were for PEVs (the rovers) and which were limited to ATVs. We took the rovers north along Cow Dung Rd, East along Galileo Rd and stopped where the foot travel only section began at the intersection of Cactus Rd. and Yellow Zebra Rd., near 522000 E 4253000N, before dismounting to walk the rest of the way to the site. After returning, we realized that Cactus Rd. was marked for ATVs only, and not for PEV travel. Apologies for the mistake, we are clear on the distinction now, and on our next visit, we will only take ATVs to the dismount point.

EVA Report – January 2nd

Crew 186 EVA Report 02JAN2018

Author: Cesare Guariniello

Purpose of EVA: Complete EVA #1 that was cut short: spectral sampling of clays and searching for hematite spherules in Greenstone region.

Destination: Greenstone region east of Greenstone Rd

UDM27 Coordinates:
520050E
4248300N

Participants: Kshitij, Cesare, Mark, Sam

Narrative: This EVA was the first one for the three crew members who had not participated into the EVA yesterday. Since the first EVA had been cut short, the crew geologist joined this EVA to complete the tasks planned for the previous day. The planned sites were the region East of Greenstone Rd, and on the way back the region between Zubrin’s Head and Robert’s Rock Garden, both for collecting more clays and looking for hematite “blueberries”. The crew felt unusual levels of heat, due to a clear bright Sun, which also made it challenging to drive heading South, and possibly prevented the crew from identifying the access to Greenstone Road. Feeling that they might have overshot the intended destination, the crew parked the rovers and found out that they had reached White Rock Canyon, slightly South of Greenstone Road. The incredible sight and the discovery of a stream of frozen water at the bottom of the canyon prompted the EVA crew to take a few photos to document the area, before heading back to the rovers and finally reaching the intended destination, at the beginning of Greenstone Road. While the crew had no luck with the search for hematite blueberries, Cesare analyzed and collected more clay sample, with the support of Kshitij, Mark, and Sam. In the meanwhile, Kshitij also grabbed videos of the crew activity, while Sam took breathtaking photos of the location and of the crew.

After spending one hour and fifteen minutes at the first location, the crew headed back Northwest to stop at a second location, to the West of Cow Dung Road, where one more hour was spent in field activities. Cesare found a couple of promising rounded pebbles which appear to have a spectrum that at least partially resembles hematite.

Having lost communication with the habitat after crossing the first ridge, the crew observed line-of-sight rules for safety, and -among the research work- took time to think of their expedition and their goals. We were all amazed at the extreme resemblance of the location to plains on Mars, in colors, aspect, and mineralogy. Watching the landscape from the top of a ridge while wearing a space suit is an amazing experience!

When the EVA crew members came back, they were welcomed by the rest of the crew with well deserved water, before a very useful debriefing that will help in future EVAs. The crew performed very well with the 25-50-25 rule, actually spending only thirty minutes on the drive out and back, and two hours and fifteen minutes in the field!

Cesare Guariniello, PhD

EVA Report – January 1st

Author: Max Fagin

Purpose of EVA: Spectral sampling of sandstone clay, mudstone clay and Hematite in Goldstone region.

Destination: Between URC South and Kissing Camel Ridge, 200-300m west of Cow Dung Rd.

UDM27 Coordinates:

518100E

424850N

Participants: Max, Melanie, Cesare, Justin

Narrative: We have heard reports of hematite blueberry formations near the Goldstone Road area, and wanted to take samples with Cesare’s handheld spectrometer. Three sample sites were planned along the way to sample sandstone clays and mudstone clays. A late start meant we had to turn back after only one sample site, and limit the EVA to 1.0 hr instead of 3.5 hrs, but we made productive use of the time. While Cesare was taking spectra of rock and clay samples, Justin broke out his directional radio beacon to experiment with locating the hab. Our sample site was in a radio shadow of the the hab, so Melanie climbed a nearby hill to relay instructions between us and the Hab. This problem won’t go away on Mars (where the radio horizon is 50% closer than Earth’s), and we’ve brought equipment to mitigate it. Our crew includes three licensed ham radio operators, and tomorrow, we will use the Hanksville radio repeater (aka, “communication satellite”).

After returning, we checked two items off our engineering EVA checklist: Moving the small generator to the RAM in preparation for powering it up tomorrow, and installing a new window in the Hab airlock.

Our goal for EVA’s on this mission is to hold to a 25-50-25 rule. I.e. No more than 25% of the time from egress to ingress be spent traveling to and from to the destination, and at least 50% of the time spent on site. Today, we only spent 25 minutes on site (plus 7 minutes at the hab working on engineering tasks), which didn’t meet our goal. But we will track our performance on each future EVA to hold ourselves to improvement. Field science means field science. Not
driving-to-the-field science.

EVA Report – December 29th

Request: Crew 185 EVA #9 for SOL 11.
Propose of EVA:
-David did not sleep well, so he did not take part to the EVA. Only Ilaria and John were on EVA.
-We collected only one sample at Yellow Moon.
-We came back just after.

EVA #9:
Start time: 1030am
End time: 1330pm -> 12:20 pm

Ilaria: Leader
John: Astros
Arno, David and Thibo are Comms.

Destination: Yellow Moon (38.4 N – 110.82 W).
Vehicles: ATV 3 (John), ATV 3 (Ilaria)
Prepared by Ilaria Cinelli

EVA Report – December 28th

Report: Crew 185 EVA #8 for SOL 10.

Propose of EVA:
-Collecting geological samples for soil density study. We will do multiple stops along Cow Dung road from the Hab to Gateway Lith. -We have done two stops along the way to collect samples, and it was a good teamwork!
-We stayed at the Lith for about 30 min for exploration and observing the panorama!
-Astro-CapCom communication. CapCom will drive the Astros to a specific geographical position (nearby the Hab) without the use of a GPS. EVA #8:
Start time: 1030am
End time: 1330pm->1430pm
Ilaria: Leader
Arno and John: Astros
David and Thibo are Comms.
Destination: Gateway to Lith (110.81 W – 38.45 N), see attachment. Vehicles: ATV (Arno), ATV (John), Rover Spirit (Ilaria)

Prepared by Ilaria Cinelli

EVA Report – December 26th

Propose of EVA: We did one three-hour EVA for three crewmembers. The purpose of this EVA was double:
– We wanted to test an innovative drone controller and a new GPS for analog spacesuits in the region of Pooh’s Corner (drone’s weight < 500g) (1h). Unfortunately, we didn’t manage to make these experience work in the field despite extensive efforts. We fixed them and we will try again tomorrow.
– We wanted to continue our experiment about control/astro communication. Arno and John looked for hidden objects with only radio indications and hid new objects to be found by Thibault and David.

EVA #6:
Start time: 1030am
End time: 0130pm

Arno Passeron: Leader
Thibault Paris: Astro 1

John Scezpaniak: Doctor Astro

Ilaria Cinelli and David Murray on Comms

Destination: Pooh’s Corner (E519000, N4251000) for part one then 200m south from the Hab (E518200, N4250500) for part two .

Vehicles:

None

EVA #5 Report – December 24th

Report: Crew 185 EVA #5 for SOL 6.

Propose of EVA: We did a three-hour EVA this morning and we managed to do a lot of thing:

– We tested X-1 in a rocky environment
– We set up an experiment about soil erosion in an analog environment
– We continued our experiment about control/astro interaction
– We continued our experiment about the maximum weight that you can put on an ATV depending on the local soil density

EVA #5:

Start time: 1030am

End time: 0150pm

Ilaria Cinelli: Leader

David Murray: Astro 1

Thibault Paris: Astro 2

Arno Passeron and John Scezpaniak on Comms

Destination: Robert’s Rock Garden then Hab Area

Vehicles: 2

ATV: 350
Rover: Curiosity

Prepared by T. Paris

EVA Report – December 23rd

Report: Crew 185 EVA #4 for SOL 5.
Propose of EVA: Collecting geological samples for mobility testing. Then, walking with the EVA suits and discover the terrain around our position.

EVA Report:
(i) The first 40 min were dedicated to the engineering check during which we have filled the static tank with the left unfrozen water of the tanks on the trailer. Then, using a pan, we collected other (frozen) water that can be used for the Green Hab.
(ii) Arrived at the White Moon, we did a short walk around. Because strangers were near the vehicles, we went back, and we collected a few geological samples.
(iii) Then, we stopped about 1 km from the Hab to locate recognition signs to be used for the following two EVAs.
(iv) Back at the Hab, we refilled the ATV 350 and plugged the rover.

EVA #5:
Start time: 1030am
End time: 1230pm -> finished at 2pm

Ilaria Cinelli: Leader
John : Astro 1
Arno: Astro 2
Destination: White Moon (110.8W,38.44N).
Vehicles: 1 ATV (Ilaria), 1 Rover (John and Arno)
CapCom(s): David and Thibo

Written by Commander Ilaria Cinelli

EVA Report – November 26th

EVA #4 Report

The preparation of the 3D scanning device took longer than expected this morning, so we weren’t able to begin depressurization until 1:00 PM. Jordan, Ashton, Toruwa, and I hiked up to the top of Hab Ridge, searching for rocks that had enough detail. We surveyed the area for suitable specimens, but our scans kept running into problems. Since the regolith in the background for the loose boulders have a fairly uniform pattern and color, the scanner had trouble determining what it was supposed to scan. We’ll have to bring our own background with a randomized pattern.

Another issue that we ran into is that the practicality of using the 3D scanner on the field. Since it has to be attached to a laptop via a USB chord, we’d need one person to carry it, and another person to follow close behind while monitoring the status of the 3D scan.

The time that we were out took a surprisingly long time, by the time we descended the hill, it was about 3:00 PM. On the way down, Toruwa lost his footing and fell on his posterior. The fall seemed to deactivate the airflow fan in his suit, meaning we had to get him into the hab fast. By the time we got into the airlock, the inside of his helmet was already fogging up a lot. Since there were four of us, I went into the airlock with Toruwa, while Jordan and Ashton stayed outside, since they needed to further test the 3D scan equipment near the hab.

Due to the circumstances, the Commander ordered an emergency recompression, which took two minutes. Once the recompression was complete, we quickly opened the inner airlock door, getting his helmet off as quickly as we could. He was sweating profusely, and quite exhausted from the ordeal.

Jordan and Ashton’s activities lasted for another 20 minutes, reentering the hab at around 3:25 PM.

We succeeded in achieving what we needed to do on this EVA, but it’s really important to remember how risky it is to go on an EVA, because all it takes is one misstep, and the life support systems could go out.

This is all I have to report.

Thanks Mission Support!

Prepared by Brandon Ferguson