Journalist Report – January 31st

MDRS Crew 188 Journalist Report 31/01/2018

Human Factors: From Habitability to Humanity

SOL-3 Author’s name: Dr. Sarah Jane Pell

Yesterday felt different. It began after the first six hours of uninterrupted sleep in nearly one Earth week. We convened at 8am for breakfast with a newfound clarity and resolve to self-organize, and prioritize the reasons that we came to MDRS. We structured the day to take steps towards realizing the potentials for our individual and collaborative research objectives. I couldn’t claim that we have found our groove, or fallen into a routine, but today there was a noticeable shift in momentum and perspective from the inner to the outer reaches of the MRSD experience, and back again.

In the morning, Dr. Ryan Kobrick, Tatsunari Tomiyama and Zac Trolley went on EVA-3 to survey the terrain: to geo-locate waypoints and calibrate the GPS with the existing Map coordinates, and scout for suitable research sites. Julia De Mariners and Dr. Sarah Jane Pell set to work on advancing Sci-Art collaboration for the Super Blue Moon Total Eclipse this evening, and Renee Garifi commanded the Hab Comms.

After lunch, the team gathered in the Habitat communal space for a Human Factors research activity designed by Crew HSO Tatsunari Tomiyama. The exercise included 6 open questions for the group relating our MDRS experience of: Communication, Water, Hygiene, WiFi, Crew Roles, and Research. After discussion we provided a subjective score between: 1 – 5 (negative – positive). Our responses were recorded in an open-format discussion and documented via video. The exercise was incredibly valuable and insightful; opening us up to a collective yet nuanced personal experience of the simulation thus far. Well, that is, the exercise helped facilitate learning and a bonding experience for the participants, but the principal investigator did not participate or share with us his responses to these topics. He felt that he must place himself at a distance from the group. It struck me as an odd tension: playing the role of the ‘official observer’ and the HSO role of the analogue ‘astronaut crew’. Nonetheless, the reality of this dual-responsibility resonates with the anticipated demands of future Mars crews. I think back to Tomiyama’s choice of animal totem for life on Mars: the domestic cat, he said, leading to his crew call sign Tom Cat. We see him at meals times but we don’t get to know him through this deliberate displacement. It will be interesting to see how he maps how this affects the crew dynamics, and when he chooses to step in, and step out, of collective activities. We meet again next week, and at the end of the simulation to discuss the shift in our experience of these themes.

At the conclusion of the HSO activity, the crew leaped into action to workshop on the engineering challenge of supporting the artist-in-residence and astronomer’s hope to live stream the Total Lunar Eclipse. Trolley, Kobrick, and De Marinares worked with Pell on finding a suitable location to track the event, a systems installation supporting the camera and the telescope array, creative configuration and Kobrick, Garifi and De Marinares commenced liaison with the MDRS Director, Mission Control, Astronomy and IT support for the infrastructural help needed to execute on the grand idea. Once things were underway, De Marinares began scoping out her own research projects, and how they might be achieved, and balanced with her Green House responsibilities. Engineer Trolley commenced a complete evaluation and status report of all vital systems to bring clarity to the web of interdependency and make-shift, and Commander Kobrick problem-solved from one system to another, while making sure he could map out pathways to support his own research, noting he still had boxes to unpack, necessary for concurrent research demands to be met.

As the sun set, our collective energies shifted to reflect on the big picture: as the reality of the domestic demands from the system maintenance, and interruptions sheds light on the limited time available to us, and challenges arising from prior misconceptions and expectations of autonomy and agency, we chose to focus on what we are here to achieve, and how we may best serve the MDRS community with our commitment and contribution.

It was the perfect evening for a Total Lunar Eclipse. The Crew went to sleep early while the Artist-in-Residence stayed up until 4:40am to attempt a live stream of the phenomena in 4K Panorama Video. As the red halo began a partial eclipse, the crew emerged with cameras, telescopes, slippers and scarves to brace the cold and look to the elliptical glow. At once incredibly beautiful, and infinitely intriguing still. We went to sleep pondering over the view from Mars… would we see an Eclipse of Phobos and what would it be like? I imagine that it would conjure universal feelings that we would share with our Earthly ancestors.

Journalist Report – January 30th

Crew 188 Sol 2 Journalist Report 30JAN2018

Sol 2
Summary Title: It’s only Sol 2?
Author’s name: Ryan L. Kobrick, Ph.D., MDRS Crew 188 Commander

It’s only Sol 2? This is a common type of question asked by hard working groups, and it usually implies a complete unawareness of elapsed time. This phenomenon is insightful that there is strong group cohesion, and is the unfortunate side effect of working too hard. But time is not on our side. Our mission simulation has less than two weeks to climb a science-mountain of projects and ambitious goals to share photos, videos and stories with the world.

Each crewmember was carefully selected by the “Team ISU on Mars” alumni with input from the International Space University who reviewed their strong resumes. Each member of our team has brought their own research projects to test in this analogue environment from their original proposals a YEAR ago. The crew is excited to share their work, their stories, and their experiences as this mission simulation unfolds. Tonight will be a story for the ages, possibly the largest multi-crew, mission support, and Earth-based undertaking of the mission. The event: the observation of the lunar eclipse, a.k.a. the Super Blue Blood Moon. Super because the Moon is apogee (closest approach in an elliptical orbit). Blue because a “Blue Moon” refers to a calendar month with two full Moons. And Blood for the lunar eclipse where the Moon will appear red from atmospheric distortion when Earth’s shadow is cast over the lunar surface. With more branches than a tree, the “what-if” scenarios for taking this event to the public from the desert may never be known. All I will add now is, stay tuned for tomorrow’s report and possible posts from late night on the red planet. The real question is, what will this be like for a crew on Mars watching two moons experiencing astronomical alignment?

Ok, onto today’s news. Our EVA team of Tat (Tomcat), Zac (Boltz), and myself (KOB1, pronounced koh-bee-one) had a productive EVA on the Rovers (two-seat electric off-roading golf carts named after the Martian rovers) mapping out a track along the primary routes with new waypoints. This was to help ground truth existing printed maps with reconnaissance and to help familiarize the crew with their working environment and potential scientific sites for future EVAs. It was my first EVA on these vehicles (they were used in EVA 002 the previous day by others) and a new experience. I was able to ride shotgun and watch my GPS like a hawk with a map in hand. This was extremely efficient as I had hands free to radio updates to my crewmates for our waypoint stops. Our time at MDRS is essentially composed of
experiences and moments. Even after being on 4 previous MDRS missions (25, 44, 56, and 58) and attending 2 University Rover Challenges as a judge, I knew when I signed up for my 7th trip to MDRS that there would plenty to learn. It’s been 10+ years since my last simulation (FMARS 2007 100-day simulation, a.k.a. F-XI LDM) and this trip is a refresher on what it’s actually like to be in the throes of a simulation so that I can stay current, almost like a recertification. MDRS campus has changed immensely in 10 years, but the beat of the simulation remains familiar. The crew back in the Hab was meticulously prepping for tonight’s event, a story best told tomorrow.

Oh one more thing I want to squeeze in here on my personal journey… HI RAFI, I’M ON MARS YAY!

Spacesuit Up!
Ryan L. Kobrick, Ph.D.
MDRS Crew 188 Commander

Journalist Report – January 29th

Your Mission Should You Choose to Accept It:

Author’s name: Dr. Sarah Jane Pell


On 26 Jan. 2018, six graduates from the International Space University arrived in Colorado to meet as a Crew for the first time. A group of space experts from the fields of science, engineering, innovation, education, and arts we each embrace an interdisciplinary, international and intercultural framework perspective to space grand-challenges, and share a love for the red planet. The connection is instant and familiar. Together we have accepted a mission to the Mars Desert Research Station [MDRS] in Utah to participate in the Mars Society analog mission from 27 Jan – 11 Feb 2018 as ISU Crew 188. We commit to living together in analogue conditions, undertaking collaborative research in situ, and taking steps towards our loftiest dreams for life on Mars. In the blink of an eye, we arrived in Utah.

Members of the LatAM Crew 187 collecting water and disposing of water in the nearby town welcomed us. We convoyed to the MDRS site along an unpaved road between an ancient canyon of red and golden rock formations. In that moment, our excitement built: we had arrived on Mars, and our energies grow. We explore the main habitat, the greenhouse, the new science laboratory, an observatory, solar cells, the ATV engineering lab and the surrounding area.

After crew hand-overs, and site inductions, we followed the NASA Astronaut Class tradition of identifying call-names based on our first 24-hour crew interaction. It is my pleasure to introduce MDRS188:

Commander: Dr. Ryan Kubrick (CA/US) a.k.a. KOB1

Executive Officer: Renee Garifi (US) a.k.a. Llama Llama Ding Dong

Operations Manager: Zac Trolley (CA) a.k.a. BOLTZ

Green Habitat Officer/Astronomer: Dr. Julia De Marinas (US) a.k.a. Jules Verne

Occupational Health/Safety Officer: Tak a.k.a. Tom Cat

Artist-in-Residence: Dr. Sarah Jane Pell (AU) a.k.a. SJ (or Bubbles)

Naturally, the crew had very little sleep with the excitement of all that lay ahead, but by Sol-1, the experience of the first EVA-simulations today’s cemented our resolve. Our mission to the “Marble Ritual” Site Waypoint 6 served two purposes: to test systems from communications to suits and transport integration, navigation, communication and familiarization of the terrain…and engage us in the humor of the Mars Society. EVA 1 Crew was awe-struck to discover signs of life on the red planet the moment that they left their RTVs: big cat (cougar?) tracks, shards of rock like spear tips, photographed and GPS located before the traverse to the installation of three musical instruments.

We peered into the dandelion-like metal stems, and found the precious marble eye, and tested our Final Frontier Designs EVA Spacesuit Gloves, and Artist Boogie Board Drawing System, Cameras, Maps and other attachments. While the EVA-2 problem-solved some interesting challenges with visibility and navigation, they succeeded in demonstrating a successful evacuation and coordinating the crew to meet the goals safely and professionally.

Knowingly entering the simulation, we play out the socially coded nature of our crew behaviours to support the design of collaborative research challenges which test the fidelity of our response to imagined Mars-like stressors. The red planet represents our passion and insatiable curiosity for space exploration and discovery. So too, the MDRS Simulation amplifies their collective fears and desires for liberation and exposure to out of this world experiences. There are obvious challenges and learning curves ahead, but we realize the scope of our mission and choose to accept it. Here, in this incredible landscape, and brought together through the limitations and requirements of essentially a Mars-life life, we have stepped into another world: not only in our imaginations but through the investment of our hearts, minds, and bodies. We will sleep well tonight.

Journalist Report – January 27th

[draft status]


[Sol 15]

[A new Hope]

People say that good is for a short time. Two weeks, 15 sol have passed and now we are in the opposite place. The 188 crew has arrived on this planet. You will see them smile, sigh and miss as has happened with us.

But to get to this point of the day it is necessary to count the cleaning routine of today. 8 am, brooms and mops ready. Greenhab, Science Dome, Observatory and Hab ready. The suits and helmets in place, clean kitchen and suitcases made.

The International Space University team arrived and our work as hosts began. It’s time to show them the site, tips, ideas and warnings. When we finished we decided it was time for our first meal on Earth and their last meal before Mars in some peculiar Utah-style restaurant in the middle of a Martian road. Milkshakes, hamburgers, fries and chicken strips, the truth maybe is that we only want to recover the lost weight.

Back home the last night begins and the only thing left is to enjoy these hours. I write these final words surrounded by my favorites, planning new projects and collaborations. We do not want to lose ourselves back to Earth.

And now personal feelings but that are shared here as oxygen. This last part is dedicated to Attila, Cynthia, Danton, David, Luis and Oscar, my dear astronauts, my dear Martians.

Thank you for being like that, for laughing and enjoying this time. For being young but one of the most mature and intelligent people that you could know, for being sensitive, educated and so honest, for taking care of us and our humor along with the chocolates, for your madness, fun and friendship, for your nobility, solidarity and companionship, for your intelligence, character and food.

Thank you for allowing yourself to feel and open your minds and hearts to others. We will miss ourselves along with our defects, virtues, personalities and emotions.

Sometimes it happens that from those who least expect something you get the best results. Congratulations astronauts we achieve the goal, we fulfill the mission and now there is nothing left to do here. Soon we will return together or separately, in the near of distant future. Goodbye Mars, hello Earth!

LATAM II thanks all its collaborators and see you soon.

Tania Robles, MDRS Crew 187 Journalist

Journalist Report – January 25th

Crew 187 Journalist Report 25Jan2018


[Sol 14]


The previous night was long between debates, talks and a delicious ramen soup with meat. Five hours later, it was time to prepare for the last day of work here and the last exploration.

Exploration that by the way had several facets between risk and danger, adventure and adrenaline, emotion, admiration and the Martian. A path of rocks and red plains until the deviation 1101 that started the route with positive and negative drops, jumps and another thousand rocks.

In our vehicles we reached the end of the road where vestiges of ancient or extraterrestrial civilizations had left what appeared to be a container of food and drink where the effect of oxygen with metals would have done its job. We are not alone.

On the left, you can see the trace of what was millions of years ago. Rock formations that would only be possible elsewhere on Earth, in Utah. More than 20 meters in a rigid labyrinth in multiple shades looks out. It would be much easier to go down without our spacesuits but in the end who would like to close their eyes here.

Seeing the ground is also allowed. The rocks here are rare, different, of many colors and ages. From the voice of our almost geologist of the expedition, the area was watery with calm, agitated times and floods or so it seems with the sediments framed in its walls.

Further ahead and in the distance in something similar to a road for Martian ships we observe their passage at interesting speeds, where will they go? Will there have been a Hanksville on Mars? It would be a great coincidence.

With the Sun on our shoulders the way back is the destiny. The ground is full of small rocks that seem not to be rocks. Were there corals on Mars? Antelopes? And snails? Seems that yes. Maybe there was also a Jurassic age here, or that´s what our little Martian souvenirs show.

When the hunger appears there is no worry, the food was enough. At least we managed to lose a few extra kilos. Today we ate a good buffet, although the idea of having Peruvian, Colombian and Mexican food on the plate soon makes our small stomachs resonate.

When the first star shone in the sky of this sol, we all together went to listen to the desert, the nothing, feel the wind and cold, but especially to share our last candies as Martians. And me, I do not even want to think about the end, tomorrow and the farewell, in my life on Earth without their laugh, jokes and presence. Happy last day as Martians.

LATAM II will continue to inform

Tania Robles, MDRS Crew 187 Journalist

Journalist Report – January 24th

Crew 187 Journalist Report 24Jan2018


[Sol 13]

the Wild]

When we arrived we promised to maintain physical condition with exercise and a balanced diet. Today on our penultimate day that is not exactly true anymore. We woke up at 9 o’clock in the morning to rest until the time of the EVA arrives.

Four crew members were chosen to explore the terrain of Candor Chasma, which on maps looked like the red planet but when we arrived it remind us of the home of elephants, giraffes and lions, the very African desert among small canyons and dry rivers, with trees that look like years ago they lost their last drop of life trapped in two rocky walls that force to look up to reach its shore.

We are not only astronauts in the middle of the yellow of these arenas, now we are more, friends and brothers with a responsibility: to give the best of ourselves together and apart, to give the best of our kind. Humans, who without the effort of dozens behind us 5, 10, 20 years ago, who share our blood or not, have brought us so far from home. Soon we will be back.

With the night reaching these mountains and near the end we decided to prepare a gala dinner for the Queen of Mars as some locals call her. It’s amazing the kind of food that can be created when you have cans of dehydrated food and a well-equipped kitchen. Desserts are possible as our chef showed: apple pie with cinnamon, the best dessert in the area, the planet.

The greatness of a person is not measured by how recognized they are but in the work and collaboration that has been given to society. Coming here does not make us more or less, it gives us experience and more duties because having a great power carries a great responsibility as an arachnid would say.

With the hours counted here, we have promised to make better our places of origin and planet, help the people see what we have seen, learned and understood. You can´t understand Mars with words, only with sighs.

LATAM II will continue to inform

Tania Robles, MDRS Crew 187 Journalist

Journalist Report – January 24th


[Sol 12]


It seems that the first week on Mars we tried to get used to the weather, landscapes and silence. In the middle of our last week, the laughs and happiness of the crew interrupt the void of this desert. And it’s not because we look forward to our rocket travel home, it’s because we now share something no other humans have experienced.

Before noon our space cowboys traveled to red hills and white sand dunes. There the team found rocky treasures and the indicated terrain to test the small Guache, a Colombian rover with the ability to take care of the pockets of its creators without affecting their results. Successful suspensions.

Also there with a landscape that combines the inert orange of the sky and the crimson mountains of the fourth planet taking advantage of the benefits of the distant terrestrial satellites managed to draw maps in three dimensions to help future astronauts on Mars to recognize the zones and learn more of these seductive grounds.

As each afternoon we have enjoyed our food together, they say that with a full stomach, conversations flow easier, our feelings and emotions. Then the human nature of digestion forced us to leave the coexistence to rest in our spaces.

What precedes the end of the day is a stellar marathon from the cloudless Mars. Earth, we can see you. We can see you and miss your good things, but also the bad things like when happiness comes before sadness, like when warm tones are the only colors that surrounds you and awaken in us the sound of birds in the morning or waves crashing on the coast .

This quiet night, the stars shine for us, we are still here Mars.

LATAM II will continue to inform

Tania Robles, MDRS Crew 187 Journalist

Journalist Report – January 23rd


Sol 11

The hours of sleep have lengthened in recent days as fatigue begins to be present. Knowing that today four crew members would travel to the distant Lith Canyon, it was a priority to have enough energy and hydration, a full breakfast. We already know that the food will be enough. Sorry Crew 188, it’s important to eat well.

Less than an hour later covered with up to three layers of clothing designed by the best engineers on Earth – or that you can buy in any supermarket of a certain American chain – our astronauts left the habitat in their motorized vehicles to conquer the canyon and impose on the extreme temperatures of the red planet.

After driving on the roads the secondary road seemed difficult to identify but after an hour and a half the end of the road appeared. During the next two hours there was a dance between dodging rocks and thorny plants. It was like a combination between the dry plains and deserts from Africa together with the red mountains of Mars, like an adventures and expeditions documental

It was not easy, for the first time since we arrived the scorching heat and little traces of the uncomfortable human perspiration appeared.

The allowed time of the expedition was diminished more and more and the entrance of the deep cannon continued distant. It is not recommended to mix fatigue, space suits, solar radiation and bags that together reach up to 5 kilograms, take note astronauts.

Finally the walk stopped and after admiring a quarry and flying our little friend the crew decided to walk back to the vehicles. The landscapes were not so impressive but if anything we are sure is that any geologist would envy the memories of today.

Although returning to the road took less time than thought, their bodies were already fighting the situation. Seeing the vehicles at a distance became the greatest joy of the day which filled them with more energy. That energy, the last breath that is given before achieving the impossible. And although one of the explorers tripped every two meters in her attempt to get there, the four boarded safely back home.

During the way back and having in their eyes the wonders and colours of Mars, it is not difficult to inspire yourself and let your mind fly. It is amazing how such different people coordinate themselves no matter how difficult it is and manage to work under one goal when the passion is so great, it is the effect of space.

Now here relaxed and all together we realize that each one reflects a certain personality that complements to form a single system that works surprisingly. Every characteristic such as seriousness, calmness, awkwardness, the good and the bad make us oneself. The countdown is starting but we know that back in Earth our ties will continue there, with faith!.

LATAM II will continue to inform

Tania Robles, MDRS Crew 187 Journalist

Journalist Report – January 22nd

Journalist Report:


[Sol 10]

[Apollo 13] [Eng]

With a quiet morning, the Sun 10 began, breakfast of sugary cereal and orange flavored drinks. Then some Martians disguised specialists in terrestrial habitats visited us to take charge of matters related to failed systems. It seems that from today our vital fluid will be safer and more reliable. Showers with hot water will be possible now.

Four of our bravest crew went out in search of the conquest of Mars aboard two rovers. An hour later the radios announced their return, in the habitat we worried. A rover’s battery failed and the cold froze the astronauts’ hands.

After the change of vehicle and warm up better they headed towards Copernicus Highway. Upon his arrival, amazement shinned their eyes. Wherever we go, we are the first to be there. It is the thought that unite our four crew members after traveling to the adventure to know and carry out their investigations. Result: a planetary wonder.

What did they find? A prehistoric land that surrounded in the four cardinal points like being in the middle of a red sea and that as in the movies that we watched in the big screen a dinosaur could appear in the middle of the canyons. Adrenaline and pure emotion.

Meanwhile the habitat consisted of one day of cleaning and inventory of surplus food for the remaining days on Mars. After climbing up and down the wooden stairs we have become accustomed to the feeling of living in a tree house as we did in our childhood.

But the adventure of our explorers did not end there until much later. On the way back another of the rovers consumed his battery until almost totally static. Fortunately we have a prepared and alert crew that managed to reach our home. Although the final result was positive, the road took more than two hours and consumed its energy and heat.

To get home they used brute force and ingenuity between tying ropes, cables, almost flags and pushing flags. Within five minutes of entering the habitat, they were rescued by the Station Director and finally returned safely.

We received them with scarves, sweaters, blankets and hot chocolate with marshmallows. History and enthusiasm have distracted us a lot of time tonight, but luckily we are all together and excited to continue exploring our red earth. There is no doubt that what makes us human, friendship, companionship and love is what will always get us out of trouble, here, there and on any planet, with faith.

LATAM II will continue to inform

Tania Robles, MDRS Crew 187 Journalist

Journalist Report – January 20th



[Sol 08]

[Elysium] [Eng]

It is better to try than keep wanting it forever. Last night we tried to watch the movie The Martian with burned popcorn cornered in the sofas to avoid the cold. With the lights off and after ten minutes a guttural sound coming from the sleeping crew interrupted the The Martian’s dialogues. An hour later there was only one survivor left.

Today in Sol 8 the light of our star didn´t wake us up in the morning because clouds darkened the sky and strong winds brought the visit of small drops to our red lands. We did a medium intensity exercise routine and watched the feet of a crew member fly through the air due to her lack of vision when she doesn´t wear glasses.

After breakfast cereal and some juice the day was dedicated to the personal work of each one but especially to the interaction of the crew.

Fortunately for our stomachs and spirits today we receive a small refill of our favorite food packages on Mars. We already thought about how to use it, meat pizza on the last day and food with more portions during the week that remains for us here. Thanks from everyone.

It is said that we are from the land that sees us grow and learn. Here there is no day, hour or second in which we do not share and cultivate new thoughts combined by the variety of cultures that formed us. It was two hours of debate on the pillars and controversial issues of humanity that are still taboo on Earth.

Every decision we have made in our lives has led us to this trip. At 1.7 astronomical units of house is where we finally find the deep silence, a silence that while we walk by the tunnels of the habitat or observe the stars at night makes us think about our life when we return. Will it change? Or during those five minutes before we can leave the habitat wearing our spacesuit, minutes that we enjoy with ourselves and make us reflect and value daily life, colors, family, sounds and flavors. These are mixed feelings.

A few minutes ago the crew returned to the habitat from the tunnels with the announcement of one of the officers about small snowflakes falling on Mars over our habitat. It forced us to satisfy our curiosity until we felt the zero degrees of this desert

Mars is red, but it’s cold.

LATAM II will continue to inform

Tania Robles, MDRS Crew 187 Journalist