Journalist Report – December 19th

Atila,

This is our Journal from today. Hope you enjoy it!
Thanks

Crew 201 Journalist Report – 19DEC2018

The Martian Chronicles

[SOL 4] – Ninety-Four

One of the most important thinks to take into consideration when preparing to become an astronaut, is definitely the ability to embrace the physical and mental challenges that space exploration demands. This requires years of training and preparation in order to be capable of performing hard and long tasks during every mission. Something that we’ve learned during our adventure is that this is harder than it looks like. For real.

MDRS Crew 201 – MEx-1

These first couple of days on Mars have been very successful. Since our first day at the station, we definitely knew that this was no child game. The importance of keeping in good shape, properly hydrated, well fed and rested, are nothing but the key elements that will determine the success or (God forbid) failure of this mission. And today, we putted that knowledge into practice during our first exploration Extra Vehicular Activity (EVA). And make no mistake, dear reader; we knew since the beginning that this would definitely be one of the top challenges since the beginning of our journey. But, just as some senior engineering and science students have learned the hard way: theory and execution can be significantly different once you put into practice what you (think) already know.

We started our day with the now typical routine. Waking up early, health care routine checkup, exercise, and a healthy re-constituted breakfast (which is becoming surprisingly tasty after these days). After putting our warm clothes and flight suits, we went downstairs to the EVA room to put on our boots, gloves, radio headsets and… the spacesuit. Think of this as the “prepping ritual”, in which four brave crew members prepare themselves to face the extreme conditions and unexpected dangers that the hostile -but still beautiful- Mars landscape has to offer. The mission was simple: driving on the rovers to the descent point, take out our instruments (and the camera, of course!) and begin our hiking from Cactus Road to our final destination. The outcome for this activity was the acquisition of different Mars landscape images that will be used to train an artificial vision algorithm for an autonomous rover design our team members are working on. How cool is that, JPL? The secondary objective for this activity was the recollection of different Martian soil samples for a greenhab research to see if seeds and plants can grow using these kind of material. Unfortunately, we don’t have any potatoes to test this one the right way.

The crew was divided in two groups: our Commander and Executive Officer (XO) on one hand, taking the images of the samples. On the other hand, our Health and Safety Officer and Greenhab Officer, searching for the perfect location to gather some good soil samples. While going deeper into the trail, we found out that our walk was going in a descent direction. And here’s where we realized that the fun part was yet to come. Going down is always easy. Going back up, well… let’s say it’s a whole different story. Taking strengths from within and big breaths evert step, we managed to go back right on time all the way up to the rovers, under the burning mid-day sunbeams.

The travel was very successful! We took some excellent pictures, collected three different soil samples and got some breathtaking pictures form our first long walk into the Martian fields. Back in the HAB, our crew Engineer and Scientist received us, re-pressurized properly inside the airlock, and took all our gear off for our first, successful and right on time exploration activity. And yes… we were exhausted!

During our recovery lunch time, we decided to go back through our pictures and videos of the EVA. And we found out something curious and funny… for most of the times that the camera looked to our Commander and XO walking in front of us, it looked like they were almost always aligned on the same way: Commander on the left, XO on the right. Each spacesuit has a number, something that you should know by now, due to our previously shared pictures. So, when our crew members were aligning on the positions previously mentioned, one number was created and shown during most of the pictures we took today. A number that will remind us of the first time we traveled into the depths of Mars: 94.

MEx-1 continuará informando.

Journalist Report – December 18th

Dear Atila,

This is our journal from today. We hope all you enjoy it.

Thanks

Crew 201 Journalist Report – 17DEC2018

The Martian Chronicles

[SOL 3] – Response time

Interplanetary communications are extremely complex and need large earth stations; the hardest part to cope with is the delay to receive the information. We can see this phenomena happening on Earth when a remote station communicates with a satellite and its teleport, delay can be frustrating when compared to a terrestrial network. This happened too with our commander and our jokes (terrible jokes).

MDRS Crew 201 – MEx-1

This rotation was special for all because we had a birthday boy. On Earth, Chilpo would be turning 27 today, but in Mars, we still have another 300 days to get ready for his Quinceañera. How do you celebrate a birthday on Mars? Well, you dress as an astronaut, you check life support systems, work with actuators, cables, and computers without any OS. A few surprises for him though, we had a par of Wrappizas (a delicatessen unique to Mars) which we named Phobos and Deimos.Cake? We got that covered. It is a little hard to do with the limited combustion on our hab (and an oven we didn’t know how to use). Our chef, as per usual, had a plan b to make it all work. Juan Carlos was the support MARSter chef of the night and dinner was on point.

Meanwhile, at the Repair and Assembly Module (MRE in Spanish) crew members were working on the installation of a 3d printer that will allow our VSAT and rovers to be ready. Mars needs specific sets of tools and the ones provided from Earth are big, heavy and we really don’t have a place to spare. We print our tools here as earthlings would do in very remote locations where people cannot get them easily.

Astronauts have to keep sane during their missions and our psychology team has been a pro at making us activities to know that we are still ok. The crew worked with a few activities to get to know each other better, this in fact help us to act as a unit and perform as best as possible. As per our mission doctor, we are keeping data of our water consumption and we verify that the crew is having nutritious meals. A healthy crew is an efficient crew. A mentally sane crew has good humor and is prepared to help the commander to enjoy our horrible jokes even with her satellite delay.

Happy birthday Chilpo! You are now amongst the stars you love.

MEx-1 continuará informando.

Journalist Report – December 17th

Crew 201 Journalist Report 17-Dec-2018

The Martian Chronicles

[SOL 2] – Clear out before entering the Hab.

¡Tururú Tururú! Don’t push too hard man, my spacesuit is big and heavy and I am learning how to move around! What will we find outside? Will adventure find us today? What hardships may we find while conquering this wild world? This are some of the questions we pondered while setting for the first time our astronaut helmet and venturing into Mars…

MDRS Crew 201 – MEx-1

Life in other planets is exciting. You prepare mentally and physically for whatever you may find and tackle all problems that can occur without being scared. And so, this is exactly how we start our days on Mars, talking about the different activities we planned the night before with a delicious breakfast.

We had our briefing on how to survive and upkeep the station, the basic needs for a first time Martian. We covered from the use of our space bathroom to the delicate care of the GreenHab, every part of the Hab and the mission needs to be carefully checked to avoid accidents within the crew members or worse.

Life in other planets is pretty regular. You have to wake up at a set time, cook, have clean clothes and wash your dishes. You also want to sweep your back deck so the Martian dust doesn’t ruin your clean hab. Our five-star chef Walter has the support of one of the crew members every night in something we called MARSter Chef (Pat Pending), this certainly helps to keep the morale of the crew. Last night dinner was shelf stable Chili con carne, yummy, it’s really hard to find a better dish in the Fourth planet from the Sun.

Today we had our first EVA training with spacesuits. Every crew member had to experience the hardship of getting ready, depressurize and to drive the rovers. We originally planned to go out in groups of four; however, due to a problem with Spirit and Opportunity, we had to do a plan B, three EVAs of two crew members. The result was madness in the airlock entrance that reminded us of rush hour at Mexico City’s subway.

We visited Marble Ritual, a simple location near the base but with all the difficulties of having suits with limited mobility but the beauty of Mars. We tested both spacesuits kinds and had the chance to understand which one was more efficient for the tasks ahead. Boots and flight suits covered in Martian dust helped us understand what the 200 crews before us experienced on their first days.

I have to tell you, dear reader, the EVAs were exciting but not fun, knowing the limitations of the suits now we are concerned about a few things: How will we use tech with buttons designed for Earth? How can we make tools that are not ill-suited for our gloves? What will we need to do to not die trying?

Life in other planets is rigorously planned to minimize risk and maximize the efficiency of the crew ensuring their safety. This testbed is our readiness poll to become a true multiplanetary species.

MEx-1 continuará informando.

Genaro Grajeda López, MDRS Crew 201 Co-Journalist

Journalist Report – December 16th

Crew 201 Journalist Report – 16DEC2018

The Martian Chronicles

[SOL
1] – The Arrival

Since the beginning of our history, humanity has contemplated the immensity of the universe, imagining exciting and mysterious futures, asking the most complex questions and, why not say it, the craziest ones. However, it is specifically one question that has caused in people an immeasurable desire to reach other worlds; an illusion to reach the far limits of the Cosmos, facing any challenge along the way, taking us to the limit of the unimaginable. A question so simple, but still so powerful… What is out there?

MDRS Crew 201 – MEx-1

It was the 900hrs time of Mars. The 200 crew began with subtle nostalgia the preparations for their departure, but with the satisfaction of having successfully completed one more mission. Between laughs, anecdotes and more than one recommendation, accompanied by a hot coffee and a light breakfast, we accompany our companions with their last food on the red planet. After a long journey, full of challenges and experiences, the 201 MEx-1 crew has landed. It’s official: we’re on Mars.

The day began like any other mission start, reviewing the ins and outs of our new adventure, saying goodbye to our predecessors at the station and settling on what will be our home for the next 15 SOLES Martians. The excitement of each member of our crew overflows as we prepare to start this great adventure. Understanding how a group of six people, with such different and particular personalities, will be able to work as a team to overcome challenges, joys and disappointments, is possibly the greatest challenge we will face. And we are sure that it will give us much to talk about. Anyway … we’ll see what happens.

The clock of the station (which we will refer to as The HAB from now on) marked 1530hrs, when the last preparations were concluded and the members of MEx-1 we concentrated in the frontal zone to know the vehicles of exploration. On board the rovers Spirit, Opportunity and Curiosity (a small tribute to our first Martian explorers), we traveled around the path that, in later days, will be the protagonist of more than one good story in this mission journal. As the light from our nearest star vanished on the horizon of our new home, we set off on our way back to the HAB to review the coming plans, prepare the experiments to be performed, and enjoy our first dinner at more than 50 million kilometers. of our home, the Earth.

They say that the most complex challenges are the most satisfying. And we are convinced that this occasion will not be the exception. For now, we have nothing left to rest, because tomorrow awaits us a SUN full of activities ahead. Welcome to this adventure called MEx-1. The crew 201 says goodbye for today, but not before wishing them an excellent morning, afternoon or evening in the place of the Earth in which they are reading us. Ad-astra!

MEx-1 continuará informando.

Walter A. Calles Glass, MDRS Crew 201 Journalist

Journalist Report – December 13th

Sol: 11
Acting Journalist: Lindsay Rutter
12-13-2018

Mesas surround us with their red striations. Iron oxide that pumped
through the hearts of long-deceased stars. It is only skin-deep, our
crew geologist says. Dig a few inches and the soil is an anemic grey.

We wake up one morning to the aftermath of heavy snowfall. Our world
radiates a blinding white from all directions and our loud orange
spacesuits only add to the dizzying effect.

Nighttime at last. Our eyes can heal. A jet-black globe encircles us.
We were swallowed by a giant galactic beast. Shy stars I have never
seen before come out from hiding. Light does not litter this isolated
land. We can perceive stars with apparent magnitudes reaching the
limits of human visual perception from this area, our crew astronomer
says. How much deeper into the night sky can other creatures see from
this planet? Their lenses hard at work focusing the light like tiny
organic telescopes.

A spacesuit greets me with a dramatic new makeover as I enter the
habitat one afternoon. A crew member is painting her spacesuit head to
toe with splashes of color. Extravehicular activities are hard work,
she says. The colors represent the energy flowing through different
parts of her body. These senses can be transcribed into color. I ask
her if she has heard of synesthesia.

Entering the GreenHab and I can almost smell the color green. The
plants absorb red and blue and reflect a green perfume. Colors feed
the plants and the plants feed us.

Our crew engineer troubleshoots the power control board, our lifeline
on this harsh terrain. Five lights blink furiously. Red. Green. Red.
Red. Green. He asks me to confirm which color is which. Not everyone
perceives these colors the same.

The Martian flag hangs proudly in the airlock. An unofficial tricolor
design with red, green, and blue stripes. For many, these colors
represents the terraformation of Mars, a topic that remains a matter
of debate. I have experienced many new things during this mission and
have grown from a full spectrum of viewpoints of my crew mates. Mars
means different things to different people, from the red dot to the
blue dot.

Lindsay Rutter

Journalist Report – December 12th

As we prepare for breakfast, we decide on which Rovers we would like
to take on today’s EVA. I look out the window. The rovers are gone. I
suppose the robots are using them…

So change of plans. We have to do a walking EVA. Well, THEY do. It’s
my turn to do HabCom!I’ve been looking forward to this. Not because I
don’t like to walk around in a clunky spacesuit (I’d be on the wrong
planet if I did), but because I can get a different perspective as an
observer and director. I get Antoine and Lindsay set up with their
gloves and comms, squirming around their ECLSS backpacks. I allow them
to enter the airlock and begin depressurization. I look above through
the window to see them walk down the balcony and off to Phobos Peak.

It’s a rather boring HabCom. All of the places the team went to had at
least comprehend-able connection, though I suppose it is good to know
where we still have great coverage. I’m happy with my team, conducting
another successful mission.

The day is spreading by, the days are moving faster. Is tomorrow
Thursday? Is it really that close? I think of my home, my parents
eager to see me for Christmas. My friends who are done with finals and
can finally hang out. I feel the crisp chill of a Texas winter. It was
a distant thought only a few days ago, but now it’s nearly tangible.

I wonder if I will ever be here again. If this moment on the dusty
planet will be my last.
Even more pressing, I wonder if my work here will make a difference.

“You are clear to enter the airlock”

An abrupt wind storm sweeps the region. The tunnels that connect the
secure building are shaking. Antoine goes out to fix it. Realizing the
severity, he calls for help. Lindsay starts to put on her coat. Do I
go? Should I stay? What if the tunnel rips apart and I’m the only one
alive? I end up following them after a few minutes. The wind is strong
and rattling the whole structure. We make the decision to come back
inside, it’d be better to wait the storm than be so vulnerable.

Mars is not safe. There are people back home depending on our sense of
precaution and protocol to come back home. Moments like these make me
think of the real scenario, if I can make the calls to make sure that
happens.

Sometimes, I hope Mars will be boring.

Makiah Eustice

Journalist Report – December 11th

Crew 200 Journalist Report 11-DEC-2018

*In spoken word format*

Where would I be if I chose education over learning?
I would have arose this morning, on Earth.
I would’ve taken the exam that kept me on Earth, yesterday.
Because all things considered, at the end of the day,
I am here for school.
A professor will rule a grade that affects my career.
My research on Mars doesn’t get graded at the end of year.
The rules say I’m a student before an engineer.

Well, this isolation does something at MDRS, especially for the
engineering mind.
Where the problem is undefined.
The method is up to you,
but the solution is experience and time.

At the end of the day,
when you take your course books offline,
your education is now experiential
Your learning has boundless potential

Heat Transfer lessons leap off binded textbooks
As Antoine finds nooks in the Hab to refine his model.
Computer Science lab is now carried
by Lindsay’s work to meet the need
of a report reading software.
Everyday, we code through another layer.

I’m on EVA, my phone on display to the GPS received from 16 of 23 satellites
I learned about in a lecture in class. I might
lose signal with the Hab Com, but we have protocol,
procedures, to anticipate all
scenarios so we can come home safe.
We did. Not a minute too soon or too late.

Do I have my priorities straight?
Would it have been better to wait until I graduate?
Or until I have Dr. in front of my name,
Where a professor would have respect for me same?
When the difference between Mars and Earth
is only a final examination,
I will choose learning over education.

Makiah Eustice

Journalist Report – December 10th

Crew 200 Journalist Report 10-DEC-2018

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!

Journalist Report – December 9th

Crew 200 Journalist Report 09-DEC-2018

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.

We are ready to awake the Earth when we return.

Makiah Eustice

Journalist report – December 7th

7-Dec-2018

Journalist Report:

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.

Lindsay Rutter