Journalist Report – January 17th

Crew 219 Journalist Report, 17 JAN 2020

Author: Nathan Hadland, Crew 219 Executive Officer

Sol 12

And That’s All Folks

We ended sim today at 1700 hours. We emerged from the Hab and collectively breathed in the fresh air and watched the sunset. The crew took in the beauty of the Utah desert without spacesuits for the first time in two weeks. I looked around at the crew and am content with the relationships I have strengthened and the work we have accomplished during our mission. Some of our research will be incorporated into senior theses, PhD dissertations, conference abstracts, and white papers. I believe that the impact of our work will extend far beyond this mission and will assist future MDRS crews as well as human space exploration as a whole. As the president of the Astrobiological Research and Education Society (ARES) at the Florida
Institute of Technology, my job is to ensure that the MDRS crews we organize reflect the overall values and vision of our organization. MDRS Crew 219 has accomplished that goal.

We woke up this morning to a hail storm and intense wind. For breakfast, Dave broke out his last can of bacon and prepared us a delicious breakfast to kick off the day of furious scrubbing and typing. Today was largely spent thoroughly cleaning the Hab and finishing up our mission summary. Dave (CO) and I started with a document of over 6,000 words and truncated it down to below the 2,000-word limit. That was an intense process! For lunch, Hannah made us cornbread and a compilation of the foods we had left. For dessert, we feasted on the leftover chocolate chip oatmeal cookies.

After ending sim, we went outside and began the tedious and brutal process of cleaning the mud-covered rovers in the cold using sponges and scrapers. After comms window tonight, we will enjoy the world’s best chai tea prepared by our geologist, Abdul as well as apple spice cake prepared by Hannah. We are also going to watch the MDRS essential film: The Martian. Overall, I had a phenomenal time at the Mars Desert Research Station, and I am excited for future ARES crews to return.

Journalist Report – January 16th


AUTHOR: Keith Crisman

SOL 11


The beginning of the end… and rebirth. Last night, with little

the ceremony, roles among the crew shifted. As Crew 219’s mission begins

nearing its termination point they will begin to prepare the Hab for

the arrival of their replacement crew and transport back to Earth.

Further, training for ARES’ next season MDRS crew’s CO (C. Montanez,

current GHO) and XO (K. Crisman, current HSO) begins with a transfer

of titles from the current CO (D. Masaitis) and XO (N. Hadland). Our

new (acting) CO and XO are taking the reins with planning and

execution of duties and responsibilities of the roles they will

proudly inhabit next season. As such, in a combination of the end and

a new beginning; today marked the last day our crew held EVAs, the

very last of which was commanded by our (acting) CO and XO.

These EVAs were a slower pace, returning superfluous samples, giving the

crew time to slow down and reflect on the environment, landscape, and

the natural beauty of our Martian desert home. For some, they are ready

to go home, full of stories and experiences ready to share with their

family, friends, and peers. For others such as myself, despite the

short two-weeks stay, and badly missing my wife, daughter, and home

(not to mention a good steak, hot shower, and soft bed), I can’t help

but look out over the sheer beauty of this landscape. It may have

been a short stay, but this crew has become family, this desert has

become home, and although I am ready to leave, part of me will forever

stay here.

To my crew mates and those that follow our stories; Per Scientiam ad Martis, Semper Exploro! To Mars through Science, Always Exploring!

Journalist Report – January 15th

Crew 219 Journalist Report

Author: Nathan Hadland, Crew 219 Executive Officer

Sol 10

It’s Wednesday My Crews

The ship is sailing on smooth seas, as they say. The EVAs today went
smoothly, all of our projects progressed forward, and we had a few
good laughs along the way. Our crew is beginning the process of
tightening up our science, consolidating samples, and writing up final
reports. We have collected a great deal of interesting data, explored
fascinating regions and landscapes, and have had a lot of fun in the
process. I am proud with what our crew has accomplished so far and am
excited to see what our post-mission analysis brings.

We had two EVAs today, both of which accomplished a great deal. The
first EVA mounted Hab Ridge along Sagan Street to collect lichen and
gryphaea fossils. Unfortunately for me, our mission timeframe landed
in the middle of graduate school application season. While my fellow
crewmembers were on EVA, I was laboring away at those application
essays. Oh well. The price I pay for trying to do too many things at

We had a tight timeline today, so as soon as the first EVA arrived
back at the Hab and post-EVA biometrics data was collected, we began
preparations for our second EVA of the day. I led the expedition to
the North Pinto Hills to collect additional geologic samples as well
as lichen. The sun was especially potent today, in both its brightness
and heat. As soon as we began trudging through the snow and mud, we
started to feel our solar companion’s effects. We climbed a short way
and Abdul (GEO) identified a few sites for sample collection.
Afterwards, the team collectively realized the immense beauty of the
surrounding landscape and took the opportunity to capture a few

The EVA team then headed further northeast to search for samples of
astrobiological interest. I’ve got to applaud Alejandro (ENG) and his
impeccable eye for finding lichen hidden amongst the rocks. After
climbing another hill looking for sampling sites, we decided to head
back to the rovers. Along the way, we stumbled across some incredible
geologic features and amazing views of the surrounding landscape. I
took the opportunity to teach some of my crewmembers orienteering and
navigation skills.

Upon arrival back at the Hab, we were greeted with hot chocolate and
warm homemade biscuits prepared by Hannah (LSO). Oh man, they were
heavenly. Tonight, we will be feasting on stir fry and chai tea.
Tomorrow, Dave (CO) and I will be training Cynthia (GHO) and Keith
(HSO) on commanding officer duties for when they return to MDRS next
season. Overall, I am extremely pleased and proud of our crew’s
science and am very happy with the group of talented individuals I
have chosen to surround myself with.

Journalist Report – January 14th

Crew 219 14-Jan-2020 Journalist Report

Abdul Elnajdi, Crew 219 Geologist

Sol 9

I cannot believe that today is the ninth day since our arrival on
Mars! I got up at 7:30 am and hoped that the sun was shining like
yesterday and the day before. I consider myself a person who loves
getting up early, but I cannot start my day without a cup of coffee.
Thank God that the commander of our mission, David, brought coffee
with him. It is strong and has a delicious taste.

Today's schedule will be quite easy, our XO, Nathan, planned one EVA.
As I do my geological duty, I am very happy to go outside and collect
samples of the red planet. Although there is snow, I only see red
soil! That's what my imagination has been showing me since we arrived
on Mars. I am trying to collect samples from different sites around
the Martian base for my proposal. I am working to draw a map with GIS
that shows the mineral and chemical composition of the Martian soil
using XRF and XRD analysis of the samples.

Despite the unexpected difficulties that sometimes face us, seeing my
friends working professionally on their various tasks makes me feel
very happy. This happiness sweeps my body with a great energy that
drives me to work every day to make this mission a success.

I learn a lot from David as he reminds us of our mission today and how
important it is to complete everything before six o'clock so that we
have time to write our daily reports. I smile when I see our engineer
Alejandro jumping like a ninja warrior to record water and power
numbers so the day goes well for everyone. I feel safe listening to
our HSO Keith's medical advice and his reminders to drink water. I
love to listen to Robby and Cynthia as they tell me about the progress
they make every day in the GreenHab and in the observatory, or seeing
Nathan planning for the next EVA. As I collect samples, I think about
the food that Hannah will make! We are lucky that Hannah is with us!
The food she makes makes you forget your tiredness all day. She made
fish tacos for lunch today! Good food, good company, and a sunny day!
What else you need on Mars?!

Our crew had a wonderfully sunny EVA today; they collected new samples
and brought them back to the Science Dome, putting them in the oven to
dry. I will work later to sieve them and put them in special bags
until they are ready for analysis when we return to Earth. The rest of
the crew spent time cleaning around the Hab. I found out that my
friends love to drink my chai! So I made some for them because that
makes them happy and we always have something fun to talk about with a
nice cup of tea. The HAB is just like USS Enterprise from Star Trek:
no matter what the spaceship went through, everything will be just
fine by the end of the day because the crew did so well. It was
another beautiful sol and we already know our tasks tomorrow. We are
all ready to get a good night’s sleep and wake up to another
spectacular sunny Sol. Salam 

Journalist Report – January 13th



AUTHOR: Cynthia Montanez



As darkness began to fade this morning, a distant sound awakens Crew
219. Confused as to what the sound was, the HSO (Keith Crisman) found
the nearest radio and asked “Say again?” With a reply from Outpost
stating the low SOC percentage, Crew 219 finds themselves in safety
mode. While in safety mode, each crew member unplugged all their
devices and appliances within the station to conserve the remaining

At 10:00 A.M., LSO (Hannah Blackburn) and I decided to make the best
out of this situation by having a Martian Spa Day. After an hour of
detangling my curly hair, the LSO and I set up a mini station by the
airlock for their spa. The spa consisted of a detangling brush, Head
and Shoulder shampoo and conditioner, towel, and a dish bin filled
with warm water. It was an experience we both enjoyed. Not to mention,
the results that came from our Martian Spa was beautiful clean hair.

By about 11 am, Crew 219 was able to turn on their lights. With
everyone celebrating, I decided to head to the GreenHab for my first
temperature reading of the day and a quick watering. While watering,
the CO (Dave Masaitis) entered and assisted by transplanting some aloe
vera succulents and cucumbers. We spent time in the GreenHab
conversing about planting methods, future plans, etc. It was a brief
discussion, but it was one that brought us closer together.

As the rest of the day played out, while part of the crew was out on
EVA, the rest of crew 219 found ways to keep themselves busy by either
cooking, reading a good book, working in the lab, or conversing with
one another.

Overall, today was a good day on white Mars. 

Journalist Report – January 12th

Crew 219 Journalist Report, 12 JAN 2020

Author: Nathan Hadland

Sol 7

A DONSA To Remember

Ah, the DONSA. The day where you take a moment to breathe and recharge
your batteries. Indeed, today allowed our minds and bodies to recover
from a week of productive science and maintenance tasks. The crew
slept in this morning and woke up to the sound of reggae as well as
the ever-present water pump. As I climbed down from the loft, I saw
our commander in a bright yellow Hawaiian shirt making a breakfast of
bacon and eggs. The rest of the crew emerged in their own uniquely
colored Hawaiian shirts and I chuckled at the irony of a group of
scientists on Mars hanging out as if they were laying on the beach
back in Florida. After sweeping the tunnels of snow and cleaning the
lower deck, I challenged Robinson (ASTRO) and Alejandro (ENG) to an
epic game of Super Smash Bros Ultimate. The battle was intense,
exhilarating, and nerve-racking. Robinson joked that we smacked him
off of Mars back to Florida. For lunch, Hannah (LSO) and Cynthia (GHO)
harvested some greens from the GreenHab and made a delicious fresh
salad along with sliders and fresh bread. For the rest of the day,
Robinson and Abdul (GEO) worked in the Science Dome on their samples.
I got to witness Robinson simulate a Martian dust storm to investigate
the most effective dust mitigation methods for optical mirrors in
astronomical observations. He will be presenting this work at a
conference later this spring! He also got some awesome images last
night for his astronomy research.

After working in the lab, I spent the rest of the afternoon reading my
book and listening to the ambient noise of Alejandro, Cynthia, and
Dave playing cards. We also got to enjoy some delicious cookies made
by Hannah and heavenly Chai tea made by Abdul. Later tonight, we will
be making a dinner of blueberry pancakes and hash browns. Tomorrow we
will be back to work and continuing sample collection. I am both
excited and humbled at the opportunity to be working in an environment
as magnificent as this and am eager to see what this week on the Red
Planet will reveal.

Journalist Report – January 10th

Crew 219 Journalist Report 10 JAN 2020

Nathan Hadland, Crew 219 Executive Officer

Sol 5

A Tangy Day

The morning started out like any other; people started climbing out of their beds and making coffee and tea. However, the environment outside was anything but normal. A thick layer of icy fog stretched over the landscape. On the tunnels around the Hab, there was a coat of freezing fog which was really beautiful in the sunlight. Until about 1000 hours, visibility was extremely limited, so we decided to scrap our morning EVA. However, once the sun was higher in the sky, the fog disappeared in a span of 15 minutes! It was as if a vacuum had rolled over the land and sucked it all up! We were left with blue skies for the first time our entire mission. These clear skies have us hopeful that we will finally get some data for our astronomy research.

The scrapped EVA freed up our morning to catch up on work in the lab and some maintenance issues. I helped Alejandro (ENG) thaw the frozen pipes and fix some of the EVA suits. Meanwhile, Cynthia (GHO) and Abdul (GEO) worked in the lab on their samples. Unfortunately, it looks like our cyanobacteria have died due to the extreme temperature fluctuations they have been subjected to. However, we will continue to analyze our samples and their effect on the morphology and mineralogy of the regolith.

Due to the incredible change in weather in the morning, the second EVA was good to go. I led Alejandro (ENG), Abdul (GEO), and Robinson (ASTRO) up Hab Ridge and the views were breathtaking. We could clearly see Mt. Pennell, Skyline Rim, among other amazing geologic features. We made the long trek through the snow along Sagan Road to Mid Ridge Planitia to get samples for our mineralogy survey. Tomorrow, we will continue this survey by going all the way to Skyline Rim to take samples at the base of the mountain. Along the way, we will be keeping our eyes out for lichen or other microbiological samples for our astrobiology project.

Although previous journalist reports have commented on the excellency of Hannah’s (LSO) cooking, I feel it is necessary to continue these praises. Last night she made Tang-flavored teriyaki chicken and today she made Tang-flavored cinnamon rolls. Each bite I took, I felt like the universe was speaking to me through food and unlocking its mysteries.

Journalist Report – January 8th


Crew 219 08-Jan-2020 Journalist Report

Nathan Hadland, Crew 219 Executive Officer

Sol 3

Here Comes the Sun

White Mars is breathtakingly beautiful and continues to astonish us
with both its magnificent landscapes and interesting science. Today,
the Sun finally came out from behind the clouds briefly and greeted us
across the vast void of 93 million miles for the first time since we

Alejandro (ENG) and I share the loft in the Hab, which we have dubbed
“The Penthouse.” We woke up early to treat our crew with blueberry
pancakes before the day’s activities. The rest of the morning was
spent helping with EVA prep. Our EVA’s have been running extremely
smoothly because of the implementation of the Standard Operating
Procedures (SOPs) developed by my last MDRS crew, the International
Emerging Space Leaders Crew 205. These are essentially checklists
designed to ensure that the appropriate equipment is operational,
everyone understands the route and purpose of the EVA, and everyone is
healthy and ready to go. Consequently, we never forget equipment and
generally the EVA accomplishes their tasks quicker and more

The purpose of both EVAs today were to continue sampling for our
mineralogy survey and collecting data for our biometrics project. We
have been getting extremely interesting data and I am excited to
analyze what we have obtained so far post-mission. I will be taking
the samples we have been collecting to Florida Tech’s X-Ray
Diffractometer (XRD) and will work with the crew geologist to generate
a GIS map of the mineralogical and chemical composition of the MDRS

The first EVA started out smoothly, but Dave’s (CO) helmet almost
immediately started fogging because the vents were not pointed
directly at the visor! Other personnel were having fogging issues too
because of the extreme cold so Dave decided to cancel the EVA and
return to the Hab after taking pictures of the optical mount we set
up. Upon arrival back at the Hab, the crew was warmly greeted with hot
chocolate. The rest of the morning was spent catching up on work in
the lab or laying on the couch and reading.

I was on the second EVA and wow, the landscape was astonishing. After
driving the rovers south, we walked along Kissing Camel towards Phobos
Peak. Along the way, the Sun came out and warmed our backs and started
freeing up additional sites for sampling. We also saw some mysterious
tracks… perhaps some Martian antelope? We got some interesting samples
along the base of the peak and returned back to the Hab. The EVA team
was greeted by cream of mushroom soup and fresh bread prepared by
Hannah, our Lead Science Officer (LSO). I have to commend her on the
food she has been making; every meal has been a treat!

Tomorrow, we are looking forward to continuing to explore this grand
and magnificent environment with two EVAs planned and further analysis
of our samples. Maybe we will see the Sun again tomorrow… 


Journalist Report – January 07th

Journalist Report

Robinson Raphael, Crew 219 Astronomer,

Sol 2,

The Two Tales of the EVA

We are slowly adapting to our new life on Mars! The morning was filled with quiet as we were all tired from the past few days of repairs and moving in but slowly, we gained our strength after some coffee and a pleasant breakfast. A big chunk of the day consisted of two EVA’s. Meanwhile, the rest of the day afterward consisted of catching up on work around the Hab and personal time.

The first EVA started at 8am and it consisted of our CO, HSO, LSO, and GHO. The final destination was North Ridge and if time permitted, they had plans to climb it. Given the weather conditions, the crew proceeded with their journey and all things seemed well, right? Nope. A couple of the crewmembers had to deal with a lot fog in the helmets because of the cold! In the end, the crew did reach North Ridge but did not climb because of the fogging and snow cover. Despite all of it, the first EVA crew was rewarded with hot chocolate when they came back!

The second EVA started at 1pm and it consisted of myself, the XO, the engineer, and our geologist. The final destination was Kissing Camel Ridge E and plans were also made to climb to collect samples at different stratifications, if time permitted. This time around, the fogging issue had been solved and the weather was much better. Prior to heading to Kissing Camels, we set up the optical mount setup that I brought with me to MDRS. It was placed between the Musk Observatory and Robotic Observatory and it is marked with a flag that the Geologist and I made. Speaking of our Geologist, he was able to take some sweet photos of the optics mount. You can also see the mount from the MDRS habitat! A beautiful sight to see when people wake up if I do say so myself! After the mount was setup, we proceeded to drive the rovers to Kissing Camels.

Near Kissing Camel, we were able to collect some cool samples, each with their own interesting features. After collecting the samples, we saw that Kissing Camel had lots of area untouched by snow, so we proceeded to climb up the side of the ridge to collect additional samples. The climb went a bit slower than anticipated since it was my first time doing an EVA of this magnitude, but overall, we did what we came to do. In the end, the second EVA crew was also rewarded with hot chocolate, coffee, and an excellent lunch of tuna salad and pasta prepared by our LSO!

Journalist Report – January 06th


Journalist Report

Hannah Blackburn, Crew 219 Lead Science Officer

Sol 1

Return to the Red Planet

The Martian landscape is cold, dusty, and rusty red. My new home is the polar opposite of the tropical and lushly vegetated campus of Florida Tech, and yet I feel just as at home. Waking up in my cozy bunk felt like I never left Mars at all. I almost expected to sit down for breakfast with the other members of Crew 205, but it has been a year since we were the only known inhabitants of the red planet. Now, my crew is number 219, and we have our own adventure to begin.

I am the Lead Science Officer of Crew 219, so my main responsibility is to help my crewmates with their research. Today we went on two EVAs to collect regolith samples for our biological remediation experiment. All eight of us now have boot prints on the surface of Mars, at least until the next dust storm wipes them away. So far the weather has been acceptable for EVAs, but the sky has not been clear enough to take astronomy data. We are all looking forward to seeing the stars above the Martian mountains.

As I am writing this, I am enjoying the sights and smells of the GreenHab. We picked some sage for dinner, and the scent alone is making me hungry. I can’t wait to share a pot of soup with my crew and relax together after our day of hard work. Maybe we’ll watch a movie to celebrate our first sol on the red planet. It’s a little on the nose, but I’m thinking The Martian.