On the last day of our nominal mission, we filmed a video that introduced the habitat and its surrounding buildings. We filmed it using Italian, Chinese, French, Japanese, German, and English, with each crew member hosting a part of it. We had to “rehearse” it beforehand to film it in one continuous shot. It was a memorable way to finish our mission, highlight the diverse nature of our team, and illuminate that MDRS is for the global public. We strive to continue demonstrating these values during our extended mission.
Today marks the first simulation date for our reduced three-member crew. Roles that four members impeccably served during the nominal mission are now vacant. We need to be fast-learning jacks and jills of all trades, even more so now than we did before. With the sudden departure of crew members who were culinarily inclined, something as simple as cooking could prove dismal. Thankfully, we have not resorted to eating habitat mice! We tap into skills acquired from the full crew and our creative juices to concoct delicious meals derived from dehydrated ingredients.
We were given the special opportunity to plan and perform the first EVA with a three-member crew, which we achieved today. We applied a communication protocol where we recorded QSA and QRK codes every minute and GPS coordinates every four minutes. Throughout the week, we aim to map the strength and readability of radio communication for areas surrounding the habitat. We will also develop a risk analysis matrix for three-member EVAs based on our experiences. We are motivated to contribute fresh knowledge in the area of reduced crew EVAs for the benefit of MDRS and beyond.
Tonight we celebrate our successful EVA with spaghetti and pesto, garnished with basil leaves from the GreenHab. We will also harvest the GreenHab to make a small and hearty salad. Admittedly sprinkled with water gnats, also courtesy of the GreenHab. Thank you to CapCom and others back on Earth for supporting us on this three-person mission. We will not let you down!
I awoke to see light through the cracks of my door, the sun shining and sweeping the living room with hollow brightness. Three chairs wait our for rising, sleepy astronauts. The coffee pot and tea kettle sit for the order of 1 green tea, 2 black coffees, no more. The water tank pump has a moment of relief with the reduced crew. And saying the toilet was in better shape is an understatement.
The astronauts awoke, and the hollowness filled with warmth.
Antoine, Lindsay, and I enjoy a casual morning, discussing the evolving commercial space industry and our new roles. We got lost in conversation with the MDRS Director about the rich history of this place we can temporarily call home. I look to my crewmates, now peers, and see the same inspiration and dedication to make this place better. This spirit carried through the rest of the day, as we collected water for the static tank, dumped garbage, and helped repair the tunnel.
As we plan to do the first EVA ever done with a 3 member crew. As we do the jobs of seven.
We are young, fresh in our understanding of Mars, the space industry, and leadership. But we are adaptable, ready for the challenges of today, and dedicated to the future of innovation across borders and cultures. We are truly the generation that will carry humanity to the red planet.
It has brought me so much joy to be a part of this successful mission.
I will miss the uplifting team dynamics of this international crew.
There were countless times when I was reminded that the power of our
diverse team was more than the sum of its individual members.
Embarking on EVAs always comes with a risk and team members
continuously helped one other climb geographical features and cross
slippery areas. Even though each of us entered this mission with our
own research projects, neat interdisciplinary projects were formed
during the mission. A study investigating the strength of concrete
built from Earth sand versus Martian soil and a study examining the
heat transfer of the habitat using an infrared camera morphed into a
proposal to study the heat transfer properties of concrete built from
Earth sand versus Martian soil. Sharing our ideas and resources has
made this mission a success.
Today, we continued answering questions from school children from
Qatar. It was endearing to be asked by an eager student if there is a
school on Mars. While some questions were light-hearted, others were
more philosophical and we returned to discussions on the ethics of
terraforming another planet and how or whether resource management and
human rights could be improved today on Earth and one day on other
planets. As we prepare to conclude our mission, I cannot help but feel
inspired and impressed by the example of international collaboration
and volunteer efforts here at MDRS. Indeed, the MDRS represents
successful teamwork at a larger level than Crew 200. Thank you for
welcoming the seven of us crew members to be a part of this mission.
Shannon told us at the beginning of the mission to notice the moment
where we felt like we were truly living on Mars. For me, I experienced
this moment. On EVA, as I followed behind my strong fellow crew
members across the snowy red hills around the MDRS, I took a deep
breath inside my spacesuit helmet. We were returning to the Hab after
a difficult hike through the hills to collect soil samples. One crew
member helped another across a small stream. As we helped each other
trek across the landscape indicating the best places to step and
lending a hand when needed, I truly felt a part of a crew on Mars.
Meanwhile, while the women of the crew went on EVA, the men were in
the Hab continuing their experiments in the lab and in the kitchen.
Lunch was fantastic (the first bread we’ve had since the mission
began). And dinner was superb! We had baked tuna melt. Although, it
was more like baked tuna crisp since we forgot to rehydrate the cheese
before putting it in the oven. Delicious all the same – we ate every
bite of the huge pan. Thanks to our Crew Astronomer (it’s been cloudy
out so now he is the Crew Chef).
Today we also had guests. We answered all their questions and showed
them around the Hab.
The snow from Sol 1 remains, and with temperatures plummeting last night we stay in the safety of the Hab with our EVA plans on hold for the time being. The crew is working very well together, continuing with science projects this morning and adapting plans as best possible to the weather conditions. Our Commander very kindly gave a first aid refresher followed by a delicious lunch of rice, potato and pea mix. There are no leftovers and plates barely need cleaning!
In the afternoon, we had a group discussion and a welcome team building exercise. The group considered questions from one of our outreach projects – Can plants survive on Mars? How will we get water? How can we generate electricity? What is the best way to cover large distances and could we ever fly on Mars? What is the best way to produce our oxygen? So many questions to be answered before we can journey to and live on the Red Planet.
Although the weather has curtailed our EVA activities, the crew has showed great bonding in a short space of time, being patient, kind, and supporting each other.
We look through the porthole – the cold conditions outside are fairly close to a spring day on the Martian equator, and think of living and working on a world so similar and so different to our own..
Today at the habitat we shared our experience with our guests who were visiting. We demonstrated our cooking ability for them and the creativity of cooking with dehydrated food. Our guests were impressed with the facilities and the cooking. The crew has been working together superbly. Crew members are jumping in to help each other, often without being prompted. One example of collaboration was maintaining the solar observatory. Three Martians aided in the repair of the observatory. This required cooperation during cold conditions coordinating directions both written and received remotely from Earth. In addition, the snow yesterday was simultaneously stunningly beautiful and nerve-racking. The snowy perfection represented the unknown. What would these conditions mean for the mission? But we pressed forward and continued our training. Well before the mud and conditions were too severe, we ceased EVAs and continued our training in the safety of the Hab. This demonstrated our crews resilience and flexibility. We are thinking like Martians.
Houston, we’ve had a problem. We’ve had a main bus B undervolt. Right now voltage is looking good. We’ve had a pretty large bang associated with the caution and warning there. As I recall, main B was the one that had an amp spike on it once before. In the interim here we’re starting to go ahead and button up the tunnel again. That jolt must have rocked the sensor on O2 quantity too. It was oscillating down around 20 to 60 percent. Now it’s full-scale high again. And Houston, we had a restart on our computer and we had a PGNCS light and the restart reset. And we’re looking at our service module RCS Helium 1. We have B is Barber poled and D is barber poled, Helium 2, D is barber pole and secondary propellants I have A and C barber pole BMAG temperatures? AC2 is showing zip. I’m going to try to reconfigure on that. We’ve got a main bus A undervolt now too showing.
I tried to reset and fuel cell 1 and 3 are both showing gray flags but they are both showing zip on the flows….
Today we launched a rocket. Not just any rocket a repurposed Nike sounding rocket from the early days of the space program when we were still defining the winds in the upper atmosphere. At the launch we established effective range safety and cleared our airspace with an official NOTAM to the regulatory agencies controlling the airspace around our habitat. The rocket flew to 8200 feet and was safely recovered in a nearby field after a successful parachute recovery. No lives were lost and no animals were hurt in this demonstration so we count is a resounding success. To commemorate our success we ate a hearty meal of quiche and cinnamon rolls. After our launch we retired to the habitat for a customized exercise program, our traditional communal dinner and debriefings.
Today was our first full day on Mars. We started with very limited power thanks to the system failures detailed by Shannon previously. We also had some lectures from Rick on various space medicine topics, including ultrasound in space flight, winter survival, water survival, and the role of the flight surgeon. We also conducted an EVA and simulated a medical contingency while descending rocky scree. Finally, we had a lecture from Sean Serell, our rocketry specialist, who is directing the launching of our rocket tomorrow. The crew is tired in a good way, and very excited for tomorrow!
Marge Lipton, Crew Journalist
Oct 25, 2018
SOL 4: Lots of many small steps before even a tiny leap
Today’s EVA’s were focused on what is still needed before a Virtual Reality training application of the MDRS can show additional terrain via drones. You wouldn’t just want to bring your equipment without doing thorough reconnaissance.
The morning EVA had Jim, James, Robert and Max headed to Candor Chasma. It was estimated to be a 3 hour trip from end to end. While data was being fed back to the Hab, it was noticed that the GPS coordinates (which were being taken for the drone based photogrammetry of terrain for the VR shoot) were not the same as the lat/long on the map in the hab. There are apparently a few different ways of taking coordinates but the videographers are sticking with the GPS readings they personally took on their survey.
Readings were also taken at regular intervals for the battery levels of the rovers, Spirit and Opportunity. Spirit had reasonable readings at the 1 hour 45 minute mark, but Opportunity, had a level of 40% leading the group to turn back. Luckily they did, because yards away from arriving at the Hab a bright red light turned on. Today’s mistake seems to be that putting Opportunity in high gear uses up more juice. So instead of a planned 3 hour EVA, at close to the 2 hour mark, Opportunity needed to be pushed back to the station. It’s a good thing it was almost home by then. The crew is discussing ways it may or may not be possible to bring an extra battery or generator on the rover for just such an emergency in the future.
Robert, Max, Shannon and Marge were on the afternoon EVA. They took Spirit and Curiosity out to the Burpee Dinosaur site. Once there, Shannon took out his drone and flew it over the area to get an idea of what would work. We also took GPS and iPhone coordinates to be used when the actual VR shooting occurs. The group got into the rovers and headed to Lith Canyon after that, but found too much tumbleweed and greenery for it to be Mars.
As for feedback on the space suits, a few us found that while they were fine when walking or sitting still, riding in the rover over some of the potholes caused the helmet to bump into chins and teeth.
Overall our mission has been a success in that it will greatly facilitate the time when the future VR operation occurs.