Journalist Report – December 22nd

Crew 201 Journalist Report – 22DEC2018

The Martian Chronicles

[SOL 7] – The Far Side of the Moons

We are explorers! We humans have broken every barrier we’ve
encountered through our existence. We know no boundaries to explore a little bit more and learn about our universe. We have walked through the meadows, sailed to remote islands, arrived at new continents and re-discover them; all of this to look to the stars and wonder what is there for us to reach. Exploration is part of us and pushes us forward to go where no one has (boldly) gone before. We aim to open our minds to what we think we know and go a step further to explore even more.

MDRS Crew 201 – MEx-1

Today the crew planned a long and complex activity, a visit to one of the farthest locations of the premises of the hab. A location with mountains and canyons that might be hard for the first time hiker. Our boots got dirty while walking to the horizon and wonder what will we find after the next hill. And what did we find? Well dear reader, this area was a bit farther from the charted maps and we could only have had an idea of how the place looked like.

What is the reason for us to explore? Well it is the reason for existence itself: Understand the meaning of life and what is our part in all of it. Additionally, we needed to get more soil samples for the greenhab project. We have realized that understanding the complexity of the terrain at the farthest regions of the hab premises could help us with the extended scope of the Radio Access Network idea for a SmartHAB. What is the reason behind this? Extended network access can support future crews’ safety knowing their location, health status and spacesuit problems. Safety is number one priority.

Due to Mars complex weather conditions, Mission Control mentioned (in several occasions really) that we would have a real hard time hiking. Road conditions were considerably harder than we would have expected and we left our rovers a little earlier than anticipated. We started hiking in a different location than planned and things got quite interesting from the very beginning. We went up and down muddy hills, getting farther away from our starting point making new paths as we went up the mountains. Destination? Copernicus, one of the furthest charted regions in our hab going through a place known as The Moons.

Throughout our hike we were witness of dramatic scenery changes. We were getting far away from our home but closer to our goal. Nothing was more exciting and comforting than finding the road that we were looking for. At that instance we were a bit tired but our morale and our spirit of adventure were as strong as ever. And this is
understandable, we were so far from the rovers that we could not hesitate for even the shortest instant.

It wasn’t until we made it to the farthest location of the Yellow Moon that we realized something exciting: we went to a zone that is not heavily explored and of course new for us. Sure, it was identified in the map but we know not of another crew that walked around it. This was confirmed by our Positioning System that we joyfully checked while getting back at the hab.

Without a doubt, this is one of the most exciting days of the Mex-1 mission. This was the day we discovered The Far Side of the Moons.

MEx-1 continuará informando.

Journalist Report – December 21st

Crew 201 Journalist Report – 21DEC2018

The Martian Chronicles

[SOL 6] – Érase una vez en Marte…

Los seres humanos somos una especie compleja. La evolución nos dotó de una capacidad de raciocinio que nos ha permitido, a diferencia del resto de las especies, a adaptar el ambiente en el que vivimos para poder asegurar nuestra supervivencia. El cambio es, has sido, y será siempre una constante a través de los tiempos para la humanidad. Pero como cualquier proceso de cambio y revolución, no debemos olvidar que, en algún momento, aquello que alguna vez fue novedoso y sorprendente, se convertirá en un elemento tan normal y cotidiano como la salida y puesta del sol.

MDRS Crew 201 – MEx-1

El día de ayer hablábamos de la velocidad a la que las cosas ocurren durante nuestro día a día en la estación. Sin embargo, hemos descubierto que absolutamente nadie se salva de la cotidianidad; ya sea que vivas en un tranquilo pueblo a la orilla de un lago, en una colonia popular de la Ciudad de México, o a más de 50 millones de kilómetros de la Tierra… eventualmente, la rutina aparece y los momentos únicos y novedosos se vuelven parte del día a día. Atención, querido lector: ¡Esto no quiere decir que deje de ser emocionante! Pero, si tuviéramos que ponerle palabras a este sentimiento, tal vez lo más adecuado sería decir que “poco a poco, nos estamos adaptando a la vida en otro planeta”.

Cada SOL que pasamos en la estación, se empieza a sentir menos como un refugio temporal y más como nuestro hogar. Tal vez suene trivial esta aseveración, pero cuando te limitas a los mismos espacios, las mismas personas y las mismas responsabilidades, ciertas actividades que al inicio eran una experiencia totalmente nueva, el día de hoy, son una línea más por tachar en nuestra lista de tareas reglamentarias. En palabras un poco más simples, poco a poco nos envuelve la rutina. Y no tiene nada de malo. Pero a veces, no hay nada demasiado emocionante para comentar, en especial cuando los proyectos y experimentos empiezan a tomar ritmo y tenemos que darles algo de tiempo para poder empezar a ver los resultados esperados.

En algunos momentos, explorar otro planeta puede llegar a parecerse mucho a un día más en la oficina. Solo que en vez de ir por fotocopias o a entregar un reporte, nuestro Ingeniero tiene que equiparse en su traje espacial y salir a hacer sus revisiones matutinas de niveles de agua, carga de vehículos y del generador. Un día más en la oficina, ¿cierto?

Posiblemente para muchas personas el hablar de la rutina les parezca algo negativo o incluso triste. Tal vez para ustedes, queridos lectores, les parezca sorprendente estar leyendo que este fenómeno -tan normal en la Tierra- pueda darse en Marte. Pero para la tripulación de MEx-1, el experimentar estas emociones tan familiares, nos hace sentirnos un poco más cerca de casa. ¿Les parece un poco complicado de entender este fenómeno? Permítanme compartirles algo curioso que nos ocurrió el día de hoy en una breve conversación con nuestra Directora de Vuelo. Después de cosechar una sabrosa ensalada en el Greenhab, surgió una pregunta de lo más trivial: ¿dónde está el desinfectante? Y la respuesta simple fue “no hay desinfectante. Solo laven bien su cosecha”. Y no se ustedes, pero al menos en la Tierra de donde somos originarios (o sea, México), creo que estamos muy acostumbrados a desinfectar las verduras antes de comerlas.

¿Cuál es la moraleja de esta historia? Pues, además de que no contamos con desinfectante en la estación, es que no todos los problemas a los que nos enfrentaremos durante nuestra misión serán los grandes desafíos que la exploración espacial demandan. A veces, serán tan simples como el preguntarnos cómo es que debemos de limpiar una ensalada. Por eso, nos gustaría compartir con ustedes la siguiente reflexión, queridos y fieles lectores: ¿Qué tan lejos estamos de que la vida en otros planetas se convierta en una parte más de nuestra vida diaria? ¿Es acaso este el inicio de una nueva era dentro de la historia de la humanidad? Quién sabe… solo el tiempo lo dirá.

MEx-1 continuará informando.

Walter A. Calles Glass, MDRS Crew 201 Co-Journalist

Journalist Report – December 20th

The Martian Chronicles

[SOL 5] – Traveling through the unknown roads.

Throughout history, explorers have used different tools to venture into the unknown. Tools like a compass and a sextant were part of adventures of a lifetime that lead us to places we never imagined. History however tries to hide the small setbacks that explorers had in their adventures. Especially those in where they have to step back and ask… wait, what’s next?

MDRS Crew 201 – MEx-1

Life in the station is going at the speed of light, there are far too many life sustaining activities that are so demanding that keep us busy 24/7. Experiments are moving a little slower than originally intended but moving nonetheless. We will be more than thrilled to see them coming up in the next few days and you guys, will be the first ones to know.

Greenhab is working on its first research. The soil samples from yesterday’s EVA were weighted, divided and combined in different amounts to harvest (I am looking at you Mark Watney). We are ready to know whether we can use this Martian soil to harvest some of our food for future crews that will come to visit us. We think this is the very first step to terraform Mars… or not. The experiment is the first step towards a greener Mars.

At the RAM the 3D printer is having major testing milestones and calibration. We will soon begin using the equipment to print our tools and support the rest of our mission. Our engineers are now working in cables, drivers, plastic and in no time the main communication subsystem of the rovers will be go.

The road to adventure sometimes takes us to places that are not easy to find. Today, our EVA traveled to a rarely traveled path and had a hard time finding its way up the hill. Once there, surprise surprise, a beautiful scenery packed with red martian ridges. No time to explore today, we need to find a suitable location for the antenna that, will in due time change the analog habitat into a smart habitat packed with sensors and asset tracking. In the way back home, we found another forgotten road, a faster way back home. Are we the first ones in year to walk this way? What new roads will cross our path?

MEx-1 continuará informando.

Walter A. Calles & Genaro Grajeda, MDRS Crew 201 Co-Journalists

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