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

Journalist Report – December 23rd

Sol 5 – EVAs and fertilizer

This morning, we had our first long EVA with one rover and one ATV. Arno, John and Ilaria left the Hab during almost three hours and they explored a region north to the Hab with Moon-like landscapes. They also hid objects to be find by David and Thibault during the next EVA for an experiement about Astro-control communication.

Back in the Hab, we did meditation and team-building. Then, David sprayed a homemade fertilizer on the almost 200 plants of the GreenHab which is greener every day thanks to his biology talents!

Tonight, we enjoyed a meal of mashed potatoes and vegetables made by John. We also baked two breads for tomorrow (one with walnuts and honey and the other with blueberries). Life is not that bad on Mars!

Greetings from the Red Planet,

Thibault, ExO and spacesuit engineer for the Crew 185

Journalist Report – December 22nd

[Sol 4]

And we are back to red! After 24h of snow and landscapes looking more like Europa than Mars, the sun is shinning again and the temperatures are positive.

Today, we did a short walking EVA to pick up geological samples around the Hab and to see if X-1 is capable of doing it. We brought back a dozen interesting rocks and samples of soil.

Then, this afternoon, we practiced CPR with John to be sure that we would be able to do it if needed. We all managed to rescue Phil the mannequin successfully!

The crew is doing great so far. The only concern is that our water supplies are running low, even though we are careful and didn’t have a shower yet. We discussed tonight how to make it even lower. Hopefully, we will have enough water for the rest of the mission. Think of us when you will have your next shower, it is a dream here!

Greetings from the Red Planet,

Thibault, ExO and spacesuit engineer for the Crew 185

Journalist Report – December 21st

Journalist Report 21 Dec, 2017
[Sol 3]
Crew 185 had to readjust some of our plans today. After breakfast we noticed that it was snowing outside. At first, it was light and didnt stick to the ground. When Arno, Tibo, and John went to complete the engineering check the snow began to stick and visibility became very limited. Unfortuanetly we had to cancel our EVA because visibility was crucial for the task we had assigned. Tibo still got a chance to test the X-1 space suit in the snow but the expedition was very limited. After the three returned from their engineering check we drew a picture as a group to increase team cohesion.
For the rest of the night we need to make dinner, complete psychological tests, and finish our reports. The snow is no longer falling and only trace amounts remain on the ground. We’re placing an emphasis on stress reduction and leisure for the rest of the night. Tomorrow, we hope for more agreeable weather and an opportunity to complete our EVA.
Later nerds,
David Murray – Crew Biologist and Greenhab Officer

Journalist Report – December 20th

[Sol 2]
The least we can say is that Crew 185 had a busy day at MDRS! We woke up this morning at 7am, had a breakfast of cereales and homemade bread and then, we put on our spacesuits to do our daily engineering check. For the occasion, Arno wore a simulation spacesuit from the Association Planète Mars (the French chapter of the Mars Society) and Thibault wore the X-1 spacesuit prototype. We filled the water tank and verified that the station is doing well. It is!
Then Thibault, David and Ilaria did a walking EVA around the hab, in the region of Pooh’s Corner. They evaluated the geological potential in the area for future experiments and they hid two objects for an orientation experiment that we will do tomorrow. They walked about two kilometers. The weather was pretty warm but they achieved all their objectives on time.
After a nice lunch (salad with an apple cider dressing and pasta with small bites of saussage with tomato sauce), we visited the Greenhab for David to explain us how it works and what experiements he runs there. Then, John explained us how to use an ultrasound machine to make an anesthisia of the popliteal area (the region behind the knee). We practiced on a gel model and we will try to do it again (on model) without his help in few days. He will monitor how successful we will be.
The weather changed during the afternoon. It is now very windy outside. Mars might be white tomorrow according to weather forecast. We will see!
Greetings from the Red Planet,
Thibault, ExO and spacesuit engineer for the Crew 185

Journalist Report – December 19th

[Sol 1]
And we have landing! This morning, we arrived on Mars as expected and we began our mission, which will last until the 30th of December with the arrival of Crew 186. But right now, we are alone in MDRS and our crew is in a great shape and a dynamic mentality.
This morning, we began the day with an engineering check to verify that the generator, the rovers, the water system… were in a good condition. It was the first time with an EVA suit for Arno and David, guided by our experienced Commander Ilaria. The station is apparently doing well and we hope that it will keep working that way until the end of the mission.
After a common lunch, we did an important meeting to set up ou schedule for the upcoming days. Then, David went to the Greehab to move his experiences forward, while our spacesuit engineers repaired two of the EVA suits that had jammed ventilators. Right now, we have six functionnal suits for five people, which is promising!
After dinner, we will do a mindfulness training and meditation and we will work on the different experiments that we will implement and run. We also hope to be able to watch a (space) movie together.
Greetings from Mars,
Thibault, ExO and spacesuit engineer for the Crew 185

Journalist Report – December 14th

Crew 184 Journalist Report

Willie Schumann

15 December 2017

Title                            Singing the Mars Blues

Narrative                  We arrived almost two weeks ago on the red planet and things really start to align. The procedures in the habitat are very natural to us and our days consist of tasks and rituals and keep us busy. Our preparations for the EVA have become faster and more efficient every day. We now detect malfunctions of the equipment way before they become crucial and are prepared for any kind of circumstances.

Therefore it is a pity that today was our last EVA for a long time. There are other tasks, that are waiting for us in the weeks to come and the weather on Mars is supposed to become more severe and will keep us from further explorations. Surely the EVA’s were the highlights thus far for us on this new planet, but I am confident, that we will soon have the chance to explore the world outside of our habitat even more intense.

But there was no time for regrets, we got our Marsonaut Mojo on and were poised to enjoy our trip to the Martian surface today. Commander Horn and Science Officer Trivedi were leading the way to the Blue Hills today and we relied once again on our trustful rover Deimos. The sky was clear of clouds and the temperatures were really welcoming to us humans, as we like it rather a bit warmer.

Most of our roads very flat and had little elevation. We passed white salt-plains and always had the Blue Hills in our sight. Although it took as a little longer to reach our destination, we were always on top of our schedule. The Blue Hills marked the seventh and last location for Officer Trivedis Matryoshka project and brought a temporary halt to his scientific explorations on Mars.

When we reached our destination he quickly selected four designated excavation sites for geological stone probes and so we proceeded to collect samples. As a picture creator I can already read my fellow crewmembers well and have a feeling how they move and what their next step might be. Still it is difficult to catch up with them, because they have their scientific agenda they have to meet and there is little time for extra shots.

I find it really impressive that we managed to stretch to almost every corner of the Martian terrain that is accessible for us at the moment. I think in the next weeks and months we can work out an extensive plan how to go beyond the borders that are determine our existence on the red planet. I am very hopeful for this to happen.

On our way back Deimos proved to be a real hero. As our parking position at the Blue Hills was a bit wobbly I was pulling the hand break to secure the vehicle. When we started our way back home Trivedi and me forgot about this security action and drove on with the break in use. In a short span of maybe about five minutes our battery was drained from 80% to approximately 45%. Fortunately we discovered the decline early enough and put the break down.

From that point onwards it was a race with time. We were almost at the furthest point away from our habitat, than ever before and with the lowest account of energy. There was no other strategy than to try to get as far as possible and then to access the situation anew. With every mile the battery dropped lower and lower.

Even though we reached the main Cow Dung Road soon enough elevation became bigger and bigger challenges. I exited the rover and tried to push it over the little hills in the road. We were determined to get home, even if it would have meant, that we have to push Deimos home. All other rescue plans would have been to time consuming and would include too much communication with mission control.

By now we were really slow and hoped every turn around a hill would give view to our habitat. It still took an eternity but then we saw it and boy, coming home was never sweeter then today.

Effectively we were only five minutes behind our planned return to the base and finally we plugged in Deimos and gave our little hero his well-deserved rest. He is charged now with the finest batch of energy Mars has to offer.

Personal Logbook             I had the privilege to be on every single EVA in the past two weeks and it was a hell of a ride. Even though the intensity of wearing the suit and chasing after my protagonists were draining my energy at times the adrenaline of creating great pictures kept me going. I was always busy with the next picture opportunity ahead, preparations for the various cameras and stowing the equipment away. It was always a race with time and the caution not to leave anything behind. It was a constant battle between the things I wanted and the things that were possible, a real time evaluation of the respective situations at any given moment. It was one of the most challenging working environments of my life and one of the most beautiful and meaningful ones.

Thank you very much for your help and attention.

Willie Schumann, Journalist, Crew 184

Journalist Report – December 13th

Crew 184 Journalist Report

Willie Schumann

13 December 2017

Title                            The Edge of Mars

Narrative                  Today for the first time, since our arrival, we could see a real dense set of clouds covering the Martian sky, which was really nice for a change. We jumped right into our space suits after breakfast and were poised to explore Matryoshka site six for more geological probes for earth. Yesterday our rover Deimos, named after our Martian Moon, was pretty worn out in the end of our EVA. So we decided to give him a little rest today and took its brothers Spirit and Opportunity out for a ride.

Both rovers are still very young and therefore un-experienced. We have to take them out from time to time for their batteries to grow stronger. Our exploration site today was the notorious Lith Canyon, which is very far north, basically at the edge of the Martian landscape that is still accessible for us considering our technical capacity. If we would go even further, we might not contain the power to come back in time to survive.

So it was a considerate risk to take the new rovers, but you have to stretch the range of the possible to progress. Space travel is not about always playing the save cards, it’s about to expand the borders of what mankind can achieve. And talking about the current limitations makes me refer to yesterdays evening. We opened a care package from earth with space food from Roskosmos, the Russian Space Agency. We got meat and cheese in tubes, which was quite alright, but there is definitely still room for culinary improvement. But as I am speaking Russian it was fun to get deep into the ingredients and share it with my fellow crewmembers.

We reached Lith Canyon pretty directly with no real detour. There are somewhat natural roads on Mars, shaped by wind and erosion. From experience we do not test our rovers to the extreme and keep them mainly on flat surfaces. That means, that we have to walk quite long distances through rough terrain. These longs walks on the other hand create other problems, but I will come to that in a little while.

The clouds over Lith canyon welcomed today’s EVA crew, consisting of First Officer Randazzo and Crew Engineer Hunt, in dramatic fashion and we found our designated sample sites very easily. The rocks, that were lined up on the walls of the Mountains looked like thin brittle plates, that were sprinkled over a desert. Almost like slate slabs made from very dense and compressed sand, very impressive.

But you have to remain very alert. When we walked closer to edge of the area we could look very deep into the maw of the canyon. You really have to watch your feet so you don’t accidently step on a sandy slab, which cracks and makes you slide. We always kept enough distance to the edge and backed one another up.

For Randazzo and Hunt it was actually the last EVA for a long time. They will be needed for other duties in the weeks to come. So there was a certain melancholy lingering in the air, complimented by the cover of clouds. We decided to shoot a remote control picture to commemorate the moment. And for the fact, that it was almost shot blindly from the ground it turned out brilliant.

So we finished our daily mission and headed back to the rovers. I was always a little bit behind, because the sun breaking through the net of clouds captivated me for additional shot. My sight was a bit blurred from my heavy breath, caused by the intensity of hiking up and down the canyon. I was lost for a brief moment, but reunited with the crew through radio communication.

But we all were disoriented and didn’t recall the position of our vehicles. Because of the rather long walk and the time we had spent in the canyon we couldn’t remember were we came from. So we chose the tallest crewmember around to go to a lookout to help us, who was obviously Crew Engineer Hunt. Did I mention, that we nicknamed him Big Foot? Now you know why!

Big Foot proved his value once again and got visual of our rovers. The sun was standing already low and we really had to hit the pedal to get to the hab before nightfall. Our young rovers contained their energy at a surprising high level. So it was quite a steep learning curve for the team and our vehicles, and the risk to take them out was proven justified. Another day on Mars has almost passed and we are all a bit wiser than before. Thank you for that dear red planet.

Personal Logbook             It was a great day on Mars with new visual impressions and experiences. The days now become shorter for us and the nights longer. As I am dependant on light I can not work us much as I want. I have to use my remaining time wisely to receive the results, that I want to achieve.

The group definitely grows closer together and knows one another inside out. I wonder how the dynamic of the entity that is crew 184 will develop in the future. For the time being we are happy for the time, that we can spend together.

Thank you very much for your help and attention.

Willie Schumann, Journalist, Crew 184


Journalist Report – December 12th

Crew 184 Journalist Report

Willie Schumann

12 December 2017

Title                            Going Further, than Ever Before

Narrative                  As we are adapting to the Martian day and transitioning from Earth time we are currently staying longer awake and are getting up a little later. I was quite energetic and woke even up before my alarm clock. That gave me the chance to film everyone coming out of their sleeping chamber, which are aligned in a little row next to one another.

Because we sleep longer now we went right on an EVA to Matryoshka Site number five after breakfast. Science Officer Trivedi took the lead, while Doctor Sczepaniak was still very sleepy. As he is anyway quite stoic and monosyllabic we were wondering if he is sleepwalking. I personally thought we have to reanimate him right there in the pre-breathing chamber. But we better leave that to the Doc. Wait a minute…

Today I actually wanted to take the ATV to drive by myself, but as we didn’t put this in the EVA request we had to follow protocol and postpone my personal Martian roadtrip desire to another day. Already in the past days it is one of the hardest challenges to pinpoint the exact spot of our Matryoshka sites as we have to compare the over view satellite pictures to the reality beneath our feet. To complicate things even more two crewmembers of this Mars mission are European and use the metric system instead of the imperial one. So you not only have to be a good a good geologists and pathfinder to master these tasks, but also a mathematician.

As so we took quite an interesting detour, which took us further north on Mars, then ever before. Around the site of the yellow moon we took our rover on a little rollercoaster. Facing a mountain comb we went up and down heavy slopes. The ATV could manage without problems but we were really careful with our rover. When we reached a every high elevation we faced an insane downfall.

We decided to check our geo position again, to make sure, that it was the right site. The ride down and the following climb would be too intense, considering it might not even be the spot we were supposed to be at. And after a short reassessment we realized, that we were a bit too far west from our exploartaion site. We turned and reached our final destination, the meaningful beige moon, shortly after.

 While the Doc was seemingly still sleeping Science Officer Trivedi got very much excited looking at three elevations following shortly after one another. Let’s call them the three hills of the beige moon. Trivedi climbed on the peak of each of them and really dug deep for chemically pure probes of rocks. He got completed dusted and had to remove his pilot suit, after his return to the hab.

While on site he collected strange orange rocks and was fascinated by white shimmering stones further down north. When we went there we discovered that these rocks looked somewhat similar to quartz-stones and reflected the sun light to us. We collected the samples and will to analyze them in the hab lab.

I used this remote spot to make an interview with the Doc, who was still sleepy, but in a very pleasant Zen mode. As he is a man of faith we talked about the question, if the God the humans believe in, is also looking over us Martians? He surely believed so and is poised, that his heroic efforts on the red planet will possibly lead others to come to Mars and to find God here as well.

Maybe a higher force was already looking over us, when we returned to the base. We quickly felt, that the rover was a bit slower than usually and that there was a sensation, if someone was slightly pushing the break. We observed the vehicle superficially, but couldn’t find anything. We blamed it on the dirt and hoped it will fall off. As we continued I noticed that our trustful rover was losing battery level by the minute, which we never noticed before. Within a short period it dropped from 60% to 40%, which made me really worry.

Fortunately the habitat was already on the horizon and we literally slowly turned into the final lane. By then the battery was down to thirty percent and was more or less only crouching to it’s final parking spot. I was getting out of the rover to release it from weight, but I swear the chocolate cake of First Officer Randazzo yesterday night couldn’t have been the problem.

We made it home and will assess the battery problem of the rover tomorrow at sun light. As we have a massive arsenal of vehicles we will definitely be fine and I am sure our handy crew engineer will take care of the faulty one.

Personal Logbook             It was great getting out again and Mars didn’t disappoint us once again. The weather is always great here and the sun strong. For me as photographer the conditions are perfect so far.

It was also inspiring to see new horizons and landscapes once again and to have purpose. When I am stuck in the habitat I sometimes feel a bit if I would lose time.

I think my experiments with the new helmet are completed and it works very good. Nonetheless I will step back to the original helmet, to feel the experience of the other crewmembers had in the past days.

Thank you very much for your help and attention.

Willie Schumann, Journalist, Crew 184

Journalist Report – December 11th

Crew 184 Journalist Report

Willie Schumann

11 December 2017

Title                            Back on Track

Narrative                  It was our first real weekend on Mars, but there wasn’t much time to lay back and take a rest, because the problems of the past week still had their grip on us. On Friday the generator let us down once again, we shut it down and we prepared for the worst. As we expected another freezing night we started to seal the complete habitat to contain the warmth we have inside. If that still wouldn’t have been enough we considered moving to the science dome, as it is the structure of our Mars mission that is the best insulated. We covered and secured sensitive electrical equipment and send a few thoughts to our loved ones.

We succeeded and had a descent night. I think, the insights we gathered from this emergency event could be useful for the men and women, who will follow us to Mars. But for the time being, we stayed alert, because the problems weren’t resolved. Even if we slept like native Martians, we still had to take care of the generator and the flow of energy at night.

Together with mission control we made the decision to evacuate for the night of Saturday to an emergency pod a few miles south of the Habitat. Equipped with the most relevant life sustaining technologies, perfectly insulated but stripped of the extended possibilities of the habitat this pod served us perfectly for the night, before we could tackle the problem of the generator once another morning provided us with the energy of the sun.

When we returned Sunday morning things had calmed down and we realized, that one source of the problems could have been contaminated coolant in the generator. We decided to flood the coolantInline image 1 tank, to clean the device and refill it with a new mix. Mission control works tirelessly to find additional solutions to the hick-ups in the communication between the battery and the generator and I am sure the earths best scientists are writing already a perfect plan to make our energy infrastructure work not only for us, but for the future crews to inhabit this strange new planet.

Quick flashback to Friday, which was a grand Martian day. We continued our geological Matryoshka project on an EVA consisting of Science Officer Trivedi, Doctor Sczepaniak and me. We went North-East from the habitat and once again the landscape and nature proved to be surprising and new. The location was hidden, but in a mix of satellite imagery, GPS and common sense we finally found Candor Chasma. What a mystical name and a very fruitful location for our scientists.

The surroundings looked very similar to the Sahara Desert on Earth. Deep sandy dunes and mysterious desert plants, complimented by giant stones, that look like they have been dropped from the sky by a higher force. Cunningly some of these rocks have a very large body, but they are only connected to the ground by a small fraction of their bottom parts. Martian rocks seem to defy the logic of physics and there is much to be explored about the origin of these formations.

The crew climbed up to a higher plateau, even when the sun was high and the temperatures in the suits were rising constantly. Trivedi and Sczepaniak really worked as a team and secured a lot of uncontaminated probes. We saved a lot of time compared to former EVA’s and had even time for a film interview at the location in space suits.

After our return to the hab we had much time to care about maintenance., especially because we didn’t have an EVA today. We repaired a few space suits that were a bit out of shape and First Officer Randazzo really dug deep into the soil of the green hab. She had been afraid that after the generator failure, would have effected the temperatures immensely, threatening the livelihood of the young seedlings, she had planted before. But the structure proved its value and all the plants are alive and kicking.

She continued to thin out tomato plants and seed new herbs today to comple-ment the diet plan of the crew. As we were all stuck in the habitat today it becomes apparent, that it is good for the crew members to find refuge in one or another building on the premises to have a little time for themselves. First Officer Randazzo really enjoys the time in the green hab, it is almost like a form of meditation to plant new life into little pots.

Personal Logbook             After a tumultuous few days it was good to come back to the daily routine. There were a few doubts, how everything will continue on Mars for us, but now we can value our time here even more.

After the biggest problems seem to be contained I am looking very forward to go out on the next EVA tomorrow. While the Crew repaired the generator I used the time to shoot some pictures around the habitat. The design of the observatory is a real piece of art and I fell in love with it.

Looking forward to get outside the habitat tomorrow and I will try to capture some scenes, that I haven’t been shot before. I am very anxious what the next days will bring.

We had a great ten days of meals and we are running out of fresh supplies. We have to get creative now for cooking, but I am very confident, that we will create something delicious for the crew, because good food keeps the spirits high.

Thank you very much for your help and attention.

Willie Schumann, Journalist, Crew 184