Journalist Report – January 2nd

Crew 186 Journalist Report 2Jan2018

[Sol 2]

The weather is exceptional today. Only faint tendrils of moisture drift lazily across the boundless sky, and we were able to run the habitat for most of the day on solar power alone. The downside to all this, however, could be attested to by the members of the crew who endured the oppressively hot radiance on our second EVA.

Guided by the crew’s geologist, Cesare, the team drove far to the south in search of clay and hematite samples. At one of the sites the crew was able to ascend a nearby butte and was treated to a spectacular panorama of the endless Martian desert. They returned with an overwhelming number of photos and much exhaustion. Our Green hab scientist, Mark Gee, had an especially tiring day, as he spent much of the morning preparing an experiment growing microgreens in conditions of minimal input and testing the effects of the habitat biome on plant growth.

Following a brief rest, the crew returned to preparing experiments and performing maintenance duties on the habitat. These duties included an engineering EVA to move equipment and check the battery status the rovers.

Justin Mansell, MDRS Crew 186 Journalist

Journalist Report – January 1st

[Sol 1] [New Year, New Planet]

The first sunrise of 2018 broke the horizon at approximately 7:40 am this morning and lit the sky with a fiery glow not unlike the sea of ochre shades below. The crew roused with little hesitation and started the day with a yoga session led by our executive officer, Kshitij Mall. By 9 am the team had donned our EVA suits and capitalized on the morning light to conduct photo shoot. It was also our last chance to enjoy the outdoors while still being able to take our helmets off.

With the crew portraits obtained, the crew returned inside the habitat to indulge in a delicious New Year breakfast of fruit crêpes, cooked for the team by yours truly. At noon, the airlocks were shut from both sides and the simulation began.

But our crew isn’t one to vegetate inside the habitat (as cozy as it can be). Almost as soon as the simulation had begun, our ardent commander, Max Fagin, had 4 of us suiting up for our first EVA. The purpose was to analyze rock samples a short distance south of the hab and the EVA also served as an important test of our spectrometer and radio navigation equipment. Upon our return, the crew engineer, Melanie Grande, used some surplus time to replace the window on the outer door of the southern airlock.

Though the EVA was short, it has given the team much to think about. We have since been discussing various logistical items and how to iron out minor bugs in our EVA equipment.

Justin Mansell, MDRS Crew 186 Journalist

P.S. Daily photos attached. Picture of the day: 01Jan2018 Happy New Year.jpg

Journalist Report – December 31st

Sol 0 – Basic Training

Today the crew completed the last of our training. It was a busy day that began with bidding farewell to crew 185 as they departed the habitat and headed for home. We did our best to help them pack and promptly filled the vacant hab with our own cargo.

Prior to lunch we met with the station’s director to receive a full briefing that reviewed much of the procedures taught to us by crew 185 yesterday. We subsequently took a brief break, which we utilized for lunch and to finish moving into our staterooms.

Our final training task was to learn how to don the realistically bulky space suits. Our commander, Max Fagin, led the briefing based on his experience on a prior mission. With the entire team suited up, we explored the local area on a practice EVA that allowed us to become familiar with the limited mobility afforded by the suits.

Tonight we will celebrate the new year to the taste of lentil soup, oven-baked ziti, and fudge brownies – all cooked by our crew’s geologist and signature Italian chef – Cesare Guariniello.

We plan to formally enter the simulation late tomorrow morning.

– Justin Mansell, MDRS Crew 186 Journalist

Journalist Report – Dec 30th

Sol 12 – Crew 185 and a half

Everything eventually comes to an end, even the greatest experiences in your life. This time, it is really the end of our Crew. Crew 185 is dead. Long life to Crew 186!

This morning, we woke up on the Earth. What a pleasure to feel the light of the sun or the cold and dry wind of the desert on your skin, without a foggy helmet!

After a quick breakfast, we finished to clean the Hab and to pack all our experiments (including X-1 and its 200 pounds giant box!). You have probably no idea of the quantity of dust that you can have inside the Hab after two weeks of simulation, even if we all had inside and outside shoes. 😉

Then, we welcomed Crew 186 and we presented them the Hab, the Greenhouse, the Science Dome, the Observatory… and we explained them how the base works, how to do a report for mission support or how to optimize their water consumption in the desert. We had a nice dinner together and a very pleasant evening. I am very confident that they will be an amazing crew!

Greetings from our good old blue planet,

Thibault ex-Exo and Spacesuit Engineer for Crew 185

Journalist Report – December 29th

[Sol 11] [Atmospheric reentry]

We are now all seated and fastened in our space capsule. Take-off is imminent so I have just a few minutes to tell you about this last day at MDRS.

We woke up at 8 am and we had a pleasant breakfast together. Then, John and Ilaria did a long EVA with two ATVs. They went to a place quite far and northern from the Hab. This area is very interesting because it looks like the Moon (hence its name: Yellow Moon). It was our last EVA of the mission and they achieved all their objectives. Congratulations to them!

Then, after lunch, we played a game and we finished all the social sciences and psychology studies that we carried out during the mission. At the end of the afternoon, we cleaned the whole MDRS base, made an inventory of the food and packed everything that we need to take with us back to the Earth.

I really enjoyed our two amazing weeks here at MDRS. No matter the problems that we faced, we all learned and faced them together as a team. Beyond our scientific achievements, it is the human experience that I will carry back with me to the Earth. What an adventure!

T minus 10, 9, 8…

I would like to thank the Mars Society and its French chapter as long as I can do it.

…7, 6, 5…

For the last time, greetings from the Red Planet,

4, 3, 2, 1…

Boosters ignition and lift off!

Thibault, ExO and spacesuit engineer for the Crew 185

Journalist Report – December 28th

Today, we had a lie-in and woke up at 8am. After the breakfast, we made sure to charge the generator, we played poker and prepared for the EVA. Ilaria, John and I then took soil samples on our ATVs and our rover. We hiked to the top of a hill and enjoyed the landscape. We were surrounded by a large canyon and desert plains. As we went back to the Hab, we did the last communication experiment of our mission. After this 3-hour-long EVA, we had a well-deserved lunch. Everybody went back to their daily activities: I cleaned the helmets and checked the electronic systems, David worked in the GreenLab, while Thibault, Ilaria and John did a medical experiment.

Arno

Journalist Report – December 26th

After having breakfast, we started charging the battery to be sure that the generator run during the whole night. Then we tested a GPS device and a new concept of drone controller. As we prepared for the EVA, we took a group picture of the crew wearing spacesuits. Arno, Thibault and John then tested the new drone controller on the X-1 spacesuit. Unfortunately, it quickly ran out of power. We thus did the engineering check and a communication experiment. As we finished the EVA three hours later, we had a well-deserved lunch. Then we played a board game and poker before fulfilling the daily human factor experiments. We started the generator early today, as the clouds were gathering on the horizon.

Arno

Journalist Report – December 25th

Journalist Report 12-25-2017AD 7:33pm Sol 7
Author: John Sczepaniak MD

Today, was Christmas on Mars. In the morning the commander let us sleep an extra hour. Yay!!! We were priviliged to be visited by a three crew re-supply team and they brought us a wonderful Christmas meal. We had prime ribs, sugar coated sweet potatoes, butter coated biscuits, and ofcourse healthy vegitables. We were really stuffed. That was not all, we shared gifts from our respective countries and enjoyed French chocolates. For beverages with had apple cider (non-alcoholic). We shared our personal experiences and our plans once we return to Earth. It was a bit difficult for some because they would really like to be with their family back on that beautiful blue ball we call home. Alas, we will make due with the situation at hand; I would say we are doing well.

Overall it was nice to have a day off from extravehicular
activities. Going outside the habitat in a spacesuit is a bit physically draining. It requires everyone on the crew to prepare the suits, get participants dressed, and maintain communications. Not to mention the weight of the suit and the physical demands of wearing pressurized suits. The crew is now pretty accustomed to the decompression and repressurization. Our new space suit testing is coming along well and we hope to test it again tomorrow.

We wish everyone back on Earth a wonderful and bright Christmas. If you do not celebrate the holiday we wish you happy holidays and a beautiful New Year.

Journalist Report – December 25th

Journalist Report 12-25-2017AD 7:33pm Sol 7
Author: John Sczepaniak MD

Today, was Christmas on Mars. In the morning the commander let us sleep an extra hour. Yay!!! We were priviliged to be visited by a three crew re-supply team and they brought us a wonderful Christmas meal. We had prime ribs, sugar coated sweet potatoes, butter coated biscuits, and of course healthy vegetables. We were really stuffed. That was not all, we shared gifts from our respective countries and enjoyed French chocolates. For beverages with had apple cider (non-alcoholic). We shared our personal experiences and our plans once we return to Earth. It was a bit difficult for some because they would really like to be with their family back on that beautiful blue ball we call home. Alas, we will make due with the situation at hand; I would say we are doing well.

Overall it was nice to have a day off from extravehicular
activities. Going outside the habitat in a spacesuit is a bit physically draining. It requires everyone on the crew to prepare the suits, get participants dressed, and maintain communications. Not to mention the weight of the suit and the physical demands of wearing pressurized suits. The crew is now pretty accustomed to the decompression and repressurization. Our new space suit testing is coming along well and we hope to test it again tomorrow.

We wish everyone back on Earth a wonderful and bright Christmas. If you do not celebrate the holiday we wish you happy holidays and a beautiful New Year.

Journalist Report – December 24th

Sol 6 – All I want for Christmas is Mars

The moral in the Hab is excellent! It is very pleasant to be with such a nice crew. 🙂

This morning, we made our longuest EVA since the beginning of the mission. It lasted more than 3 hours and we managed to test X-1 in a rocky area, we set up an experiment about soil erosion, we continued our experiment about control/astro interaction and we determined which maximum weight you can carry on an ATV depending on the local soil density around the Hab. Quite a busy morning!

This afternoon, we worked together and did social sciences surveys about writting skills, clothing or empowerment during a Martian mission. We also had our first (and probably last) short shower of the mission and we found a way to overcome the issues we are currently having with the battery of the generator.

The mood is light as even here, Christmas is approaching. We have a Christmas tree, presents and nice food for tommorow. Do you really need more on the Red Planet?

On the behalf of the whole Crew 185, I wish you all a merry ChristMa(r)s with you family and loved ones!

Sincere greetings from the Red Planet,

Thibault, ExO and spacesuit engineer for the Crew 185