Journalist Report – February 11th

Crew 221 Journalist Report 11Feb2020

Author: Hemani Kalucha, Crew Journalist

Sol 9

Title: Corn on Mars (with a little bit of help)

This morning, we tested radio operations outside the hab. Crew Engineer Louis had already successfully built an engineer and got it working inside the hab over the last few days. The test then involved seeing if it could be reassembled with ease on an EVA in a short period of time. It was exciting to see that the radio could be reassembled in under an hour on EVA in two bulky astronaut suits. The second EVA was supposed to test if a team could reassembled the radio with no prior knowledge of radios (this team was Commander Grulich, Hemani, and Jess), however, due to a typo error in the request, the EVA had to be cancelled. We hope to recover this EVA tomorrow. Meanwhile, the rover was successfully built, but the team ran into several issues while trying to program it, and will try again to get the rover running tomorrow. On a happier note, the team spent the day filming various activities, which they will use in outreach videos, and also took some awesome astronaut profile pictures. Also for dinner tonight, we have the luxury of eating tons of leafy greens, all harvested from our very own greenhouse! The sunny, warm days on Mars are keeping our spirits up as we edge closer to the end of the mission!

Journalist Report – February 10th

Crew 221 Journalist Report 10Feb2020

Author: Hemani Kalucha, Crew Journalist

Sol 8

Title: Operations EVA Testing

This morning, we started a new Science project. Crew GHO, J Todd, is going to observe the efficiency of EVA teams and assess it according to parameters in the literature. One set of EVAs done today tested the efficiency of sample collection. The next two sets will test radio assembly and rover operations. The EVA teams had difficulty finding the route today, which made the long walk even longer. The view from the top of the ridge was incredible though, which made it all worth it. In the evening, Crew Journalist Hemani introduced the crew to some classic Canadian snacks – jalapeño poppers (which were received well) and pop tarts (which Crew GHO J Todd criticized). Crew Commander managed to create fusion Indian food by spicing the rajma with her sprouted mung beans. She also made a classic north Indian dish for dinner – rajma with rice. The crew worked around the clock on robotics, astronomy, antenna work, and microbiology, so hopefully, Indian-Canadian cultural night will revive everyone.

Journalist Report – February 9th

Crew 221 Journalist Report 09Feb2020

Author: Hemani Kalucha, Crew Journalist

Sol 4

Title: A little bit of rest

Yesterday evening, we had another amazing cultural night. We learned so much about Costa Rica and found it is such an impressive country. It voluntarily gave up its army in 1948, it has a literacy rate of 97%, and it currently runs on 98% renewable energy. We’ve now decided to have a reunion in Costa Rica next year, especially because of the incredibly yummy food Crew Engineer Luis prepared last night. We also got the chance to try a rare Costa Rican delicacy, the core of a palm tree! This morning, Crew Journalist Hemani made cheesy scrambled eggs for the crew. The crew was served a second luxurious round of coffee and also finally ate the cookies Crew 219 gifted to us as a treat. It was a morning of deliciousness. After an afternoon of great conversation, the crew got busy with planning our EVA experiments and preparing new microbiology samples. In particular, Crew GHO Jessica is trying to plan EVAs for rover operations testing and emergency response testing. She is also trying to use previously published parameters to test EVA success on our EVA operations to compare the results. Tonight, we are all very excited to do the combined Zumba and Salsa sports session prepared by the Commander and Engineer.

Journalist Report – February 06th

Crew 221 Journalist Report 06Feb2020

Author: Hemani Kalucha, Crew Journalist

Sol 4

Title: A day of science!

This morning, we were awoken by our wonderful commander making pancakes and serving the last of the fresh fruit – bananas. Energized by this meal, the crew divided into teams of three. Luis and Jess planted the black corn seeds in the greenhab using martian soil, collected from the EVA done yesterday. Maria and Rawan spent the whole day growing bacteria in the samples also collected from the EVA done yesterday. One of the samples saw signs of bacteria, which caused lots of excitement and a feeling of success amongst the crew. Hemani and Ghanim started to build the robot. After a fun team lunch of good conversation and two-minute Ramen, the teams switched around, and the all girl engineering team (Hemani, Maria, Jess) put together the robotic arm! It started to get cold in the RAM, so the Crew Engineer didn’t have time to get his moisture sensor fully working, but all in all, much progress was made on all fronts. The mini missions made the hours go by a little faster, since the lack of internet and space, usually makes the day feel long and slow. Tonight will be another fun filled evening with sports, meditation, and another crewmember’s cultural exploration.

Journalist Report – February 5th

Crew 221 Journalist Report 05Feb2020

Author: Hemani Kalucha, Crew Journalist

Sol 3

Title: Exploring the Moons!

Today, we made good progress on our microbiology and black corn experiments. Early morning, Commander Grulich started the process of testing bacteria growth on Mars by taking swabs of the spacesuit helmet before and after cleaning. We are going to include this sample in our bacteria tests to see how efficiently the suits are cleaned! Then, three crew members went on a long and adventurous EVA out to the moons! They collected samples from the site of an ex-canyon, where many water flow channels were present. Water allows for presence of life, and this made the moons an excellent candidate for our microbiology sample collection. We followed new procedures to prevent cross contamination of samples, and even collected a sample of the air on Mars, to see what was going on there! Lastly, Crewmate Luis collected bags of soil from the Moons, in an attempt to take them back to the Greenhab and grow black corn in martian soil! After this tiring EVA, the crew members rested, and two other crew members expeditioned to North Ridge on a second EVA to collect iron rich samples for the microbiology samples. The samples were then prepared and put into the incubator at 25 degrees Celsius. We are excitedly awaiting the results! Our naps helped us recharge, and we managed to put together a delicious meal of tacos! Good night for now, Earthlings.

Journalist Report – February 4th

Crew 221 Journalist Report 04Feb2020
Author: Hemani Kalucha, Crew Journalist
Sol 2
Title: Setting up a Weather Station

Today, we started with one of our science experiments: building an in-house crew assembled weather station! It actually ended up being a terrific team building exercise. We all gathered in the science dome early at 10 this morning, to put together 3 elements: a barometer, a rain gauge, and a hygrometer. Everyone put their best DIY skills to use as all of the elements were made of everyday objects found at home. Some of the intricate steps involved straws, sticky tack, cotton balls and lots of masking tape. Oh, and good timing. After this amazing team effort, we sent out two crew members on an EVA to install the 3 elements outside the hab, so that we could take weather measurements twice a day. We were pre approved to attach our instruments on the outside face of the tunnels at the science dome. Unfortunately, using zipties as a fastener was not as successful as we hoped. The EVA crew’s attempts resulted in snapping of most of the zipties. However, we have now found Velcro straps in our equipment, and will try reinstalling the equipment on a later EVA. As HabCom for this EVA, I particularly enjoyed watching the EVA crew at work from our kitchen window, and giving them special instructions for installation. Overall, I would say we had a real “starting a human presence on Mars” experience today. Unfortunately, one piece of equipment did not make it to the hab, so we will have to do without our anemometer’s wind measurements. Fortunately, Commander Grulich’s impeccable baking making skills will distract us. Dinner was made more eventful by Kuwaiti cultural night and a lovely play of “hometowns” to get to know our teammates better. Our conversations are already so much deeper and more interesting than just 48 hours ago!

Journalist Report – January 31st

Crew 220 (MDRS) Journalist Report 31Jan2020

Author: Connie Delisle, Crew Journalist

Title: The Art and Science of Life on Mars

We arose today knowing it was the last opportunity to experience an MEVA and to complete science and research projects here on Mars. Despite heightened awareness of the need to focus on the Mission while keeping in mind the impeding work to return to Earth, attention waned in preparation of the MEVA and made the start more challenging than expected.

Today’s lessons reinforced that life’s snags can also be the best of teachers. As MEVA team leader I faced unfamiliar decisions, taking longer than anticipated to figure out how to deal with a communications issue. As this was rectified, the crew was able to recover its stride going into the Search and Rescue/Medical Evacuation exercise confidently. I felt that the team shifted into a smoother operational rhythm for the remainder of the MEVA. Successfully finding, treating and evacuating the fallen astronaut seemed to build confidence and familiarity – perhaps we were being guided by the XO Svensøy’s words of last evening – to challenge ourselves and not to try to be perfect – embrace failing. We added more complexity into the exercise scenario by aborting the compression cycle to bring a patient to MAU Station, rerouting to MDRS and in doing so, having a crew member play the role of an injured SAR personnel. Although focused and appreciating the seriousness of treating injuries on Mars, many crew members reported feeling excited and stimulated in being able to creatively adapt as they had learned in their professions on Earth.

Following lunch MAU and MDRS enjoyed lunch together as well as shared personal reflections. It was heart-warming to hear the level of appreciation from each and to know that free will exists to make connections with crew mates going forward.

So the saying goes – All good things come to end [Ref: Geoffrey Chaucer, 1300s]. This came to mind last night and it seemed destined for use in closing this last journalist report. Chaucer’s words serve as much as reminder that the time at MDRS is ending. However, it has also created a beginning – to embrace and accept that everything going forward is temporary. That as Commander Hanacek offered at lunch, the power is within each us to design our own destiny. In my words, it means to sort through one’s own “garbadges”, truly claim what is real, true and authentic; retire and return negative programming to sources where it may have come; to speak for oneself and let others own their own ‘stuff’.

With that, leaving Mars then isn’t an end. It marks a continuation to explore on Earth, the circularity and impermanence of life itself.

Until we rendezvous again,

Connie Delisle, PhD, MDRS Journalist Crew 220

Journalist Report – January 29th

Crew 220 MDRS Journalist Report 29JAN2020
Author: Morgan Kainu, Crew Journalist
Sol 10
Title: Destination Exploration

Body: Today marked the first day of the MAU Ambassador Program implementation. A crew member from MDRS was hosted at the MAU hab the previous night to learn from the MAU crew about internal operations as well as to stay the day and to participate with the MAU crew in an explorative extravehicular activity (EVA). This was the first EVA to leave directly from the MAU hab.
It was a mildly warm day, yet stunning red Martian day. It was perfect for exploring and admiring the landscape. The MAU crew and MDRS ambassador crew member together expressed their sentiments about the extreme beauty experienced on the EVA, reflecting in their mind’s eye. They also took this opportunity to share their photos from the day with the rest of the MDRS crew back at their hab.

Both crews had a special treat on the menu for dinner – one crew member cooked a special batch of Borscht for everyone. It was an incredible dish and a great opportunity to share our favorite dishes while on Mars. Following dinner, everyone came together for some down time before tucking in for the night at our respective habs.

Morgan Kainu, BA; MAU Journalist Crew 001

Journalist Report – January 28th

Crew 220 MDRS Journalist Report 28Jan2020

Author: Morgan Kainu, Crew Journalist

Sol 9

Title: We Will We Will Rock You


Today marked a very exciting day for the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) crew and Mars Academy USA (MAU) crew – our very first Geological Extra Vehicular Activity (GEVA). Both crews briefed over breakfast together at the MDRS station before setting out via rover towards the two designated geological soil sampling sites at 010:30.

The two crews were able to collect an ample amount of interesting terrain/soil samples from two sites along the Martian landscape ("Kissing Camel Ridge" and "North Ridge") for further analysis back at the science dome. Upon their return, the crew debriefed the rest of the crew members at MDRS about their extravehicular activity before everyone joined together in the Science Dome for soil sampling and stratification analysis followed by viewing our samples under the Foldscope portable microscope.

To conclude a long day and and unwind, the crews joined together for dinner and a well deserved movie: The Martian.

Morgan Kainu, BA; MDRS Journalist Crew 220

Journalist Report – January 20th

Subject: Crew 001 (MAU) Journalist 21Jan2020

Crew 001 MAU Journalist Report 21Jan2020

Author: Morgan Kainu, Crew Journalist

Sol 2

Title: Snow and Dancing on Mars

At 0700 we rose for the morning to a slow flurry of Martian snow that had just started falling. We sat together enjoying the scenery while eating a breakfast of oatmeal and coffee. Starting at 0900 the Martian snow decided to pick up its pace, so we worked together to make sure that everything was secured and well prepared for the Martian elements.

Following the securing of the hab, we sat back down to enjoy some story telling and hab activities. We all enjoyed the opportunity to continue to learn from and about one another and planning for hab improvements for the next Sol.

In the evening, we met up with the MDRS crew at their hab for a Mars Circle activity between the two habs, for having our biometrics checked and enjoying a delicious shepherds pie dinner that one of the MDRS crew members whipped up for us from the freeze dried food. And, to top the night off, we had an joyful night of music and dancing between the two crews where we learned how to waltz, two-step, and a dance from India.

See photos (separately sent)

Morgan Kainu, BA; MAU Journalist Crew 001