Members Biographies – January 1st

Kshitij Mall: Commander (India)
Kshitij Mall is a Post-doctoral Research Associate at the Center for Integrated Systems in Aerospace, Purdue University. He obtained his Ph.D. and Masters degrees from the School of Aeronautics & Astronautics, Purdue University. He was a Post-doctoral Research Fellow in the department of Aerospace Engineering at Auburn University in 2019. Previously, he completed B. Tech. in Mechanical Engineering at JSSATE Noida, India and then worked for a year at Infosys Technologies Ltd. as a Computer Systems Engineer Trainee. His research interests lie in the areas of Optimal Control Theory, Atmospheric Flight Mechanics, Explainable Artificial Intelligence, and Human-Class Mars missions. He is a member of AIAA. His crew call sign is Chai.

Arly Black: Crew Scientist/Executive Officer (Canada)
Arly Black is a PhD Candidate in the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Purdue University, majoring in Astrodynamics. She works in the Space Information Dynamics Group, with a research focus on categorizing orbital debris in cislunar space. Earlier Ph.D. work involved research on passive, aerodynamically stable drag sail deorbit devices for the removal of debris from low-Earth orbits. She obtained her master’s degree from the same program at Purdue University with a major in Propulsion, and her thesis work involved the study of reaction kinetics of hypergolic propellants. Arly received her bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Queen’s University in Canada, and afterwards worked for three years as a Completions Field Engineer with Schlumberger, before pursuing her graduate education. Arly is an avid reader and a perpetual student. She enjoys hiking, skiing, cycling, traveling the world, playing with her German Shepherd Chloe, and making chocolate. Her crew call sign is Maple.

Adriana Brown: Crew Geologist (USA)
Adriana Brown is a recent graduate of Purdue University with a B.S. in Environmental Geoscience. Her undergraduate research focused on stable isotope geochemistry and a paleoclimate reconstruction of Death Valley. She is currently applying to graduate schools to study geochemistry to explore questions about deep time processes on Earth and their applications on other planets. In her free time, she enjoys cycling, hiking, cooking, and reading. Her crew call sign is Rocky.

Mason Kuhn: Crew Engineer (USA)
Mason Kuhn is a senior undergraduate student pursuing a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University. His primary interests within the field of Mechanical Engineering are Aeronautics and Automotives. In accordance with an interest in Aeronautics, Mason will be conducting research at MDRS using a Skydio 2 Drone for scouting, navigation, and search & rescue. Upon graduating from Purdue in May of 2023, he will move to Saginaw, Michigan for a full-time role as a Systems Integration Engineer for Nexteer Automotive. In addition, he has internship work experience as a design engineer and project manager. Mason is from Lockport, Illinois, has an interest in professional and college sports, and is also an avid golfer in his free time. He is extremely excited and prepared for the two-week Mars simulation filled with researching areas of interest, completing team projects, and taking in as much of the MDRS experience as possible. His crew call sign is Scout.

Kenneth Pritchard: Crew Journalist (USA)
Kenny Pritchard is a second-year master’s thesis student within the school of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Purdue University. His research lies in the area of autonomous space habitat design and decision making with the Resilient ExtraTerrestrial Habitats Institute (RETHi). He graduated with a BS in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering from Purdue University in December 2021. In his undergraduate career, he held extracurricular roles including Director of Activities for Purdue Space Day, National Director of Operations for Arnold Air Society, and several Air Force ROTC leadership positions. Having been commissioned through ROTC, Kenny is a second lieutenant with an assignment to attend USAF Undergraduate Pilot Training after his planned graduation in May 2022. His crew call sign is Hemingway.

Megan Rush: Health and Safety Officer (USA)
Megan is a senior Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering undergraduate student at Purdue University. She is a cadet in the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corp (ROTC) where she has held leadership positions that include Flight Commander, Special Events Coordinator, and Vice Wing Commander. After she graduates in December 2023, Megan will commission as a second lieutenant in the United States Air Force as a developmental engineer. She will stay at Purdue to pursue her master’s degree in aerospace engineering. Her research experience includes creating models of hand-held tools to 3D print and use in a remote environment. Bringing a 3D printer to Mars would be challenging but could be very advantageous. In her free time, Megan is a certified personal trainer and enjoys strength training and creating workouts for friends and clients. She is from Orlando, Florida where she spends time reading, fishing, and being with family at the beach and Disney. Her crew call sign is Xerox.

Madelyn Whitaker: Greenhab Officer (USA)
Madelyn Whitaker is an undergraduate student in biological engineering at Purdue Univeristy, concentrating in cellular and biomolecular engineering with minors in biology, biotechnology, and data driven agriculture. She is a member of ASGSR and Alpha Epsilon. Her research interests lie in the areas of plant physiology and stress responses, and plant and microbial symbiosis in closed inhabitation. During her stay at MDRS, she will be testing effects of grey water usage and Astrobiome application on plant yield, photosynthetic efficiency, and overall microbial diversity. She has previously completed research in organic waste repurposing, plant growth in lunar and Martian regolith, and other plant stress projects relating to astrobotany and interplanetary agriculture. Madelyn hopes to continue future doctoral work in the area of controlled environment agriculture, as well as biological and plant life support systems for lunar and Martian missions. Her crew call sign is Sprout.

Mission Plan – January 1st

Crew 272 – Purdue Redusters
Crew Commander: Kshitij Mall (India/USA)
Executive Officer/Chief Scientist: Ariel Black (Canada/USA)
Crew Engineer: Mason Kuhn (USA)
Crew Geologist: Adriana Brown (USA)
Health and Safety Officer: Megan Rush (USA)
Crew Journalist: Kenneth Pritchard (USA)
Green Hab Officer: Madelyn Whitaker (USA)

MDRS Crew 272 is a multidisciplinary group of engineers and scientists hailing from the cradle of astronauts, Purdue University, who are all passionate about Mars exploration. The crew’s priority will be to advance the state-of-the-art research in different fields of current interest pertaining to Martian missions including communications, search and rescue missions using drones, additive manufacturing, plant growth on Mars, and human factors. Below is a detailed summary of projects during the mission.

Title: Radio Direction Finding for Communication on Mars
Crew Member: Kshitij Mall
Objectives: The main objective is to expand upon the research conducted by Dr. Justin Mansell during Crew 186 rotation and improve upon the transmitter-receiver system to have better communication at Mars between astronauts on EVAs and their habitat. Additional intent is to use the existing MDRS HAM, if possible, to improve the communication at Mars.
Description: This project aims at looking at the improved transmission system comprising two Microfox 15 transmitters and Yagi Uda antenna receiver system. Idea is to place transmitters at two different spots, one at the hab and another at another safe location to help identify the roundabout latitude and longitude of a particular location using Yagi Uda antenna
Rationale: Mars doesn’t have a magnetic field for compass to work and won’t have a GPS system right away. For communication on Mars we’ll have to look at other options.
EVAs Required: One EVA to place the transmitter and then test the new two transmitter communication.

Title: Paleoclimate Reconstruction of the Near-MDRS Environment
Crew Member: Adriana Brown
Objectives: Field observation and sampling of inverted paleochannels, analysis of paleoflow indicators, and interpretation of changes in depositional environments near Kissing Camel Ridge and Candor Chasma.
Description: This project aims to begin a paleoclimate reconstruction of the environment near MDRS, with a specific focus on changing depositional environments and ancient fluvial processes and how these are reflected in the stratigraphy.
Rationale: Understanding ancient fluvial processes is integral to better understanding the climatic and habitability history of Mars. Many features near MDRS, especially inverted paleochannels, such as those proposed by Clarke and Stoker (2011), are excellent Martian analogs that can provide important information through sedimentary stratigraphy and structures.
EVAs Required: At least one to Candor Chasma and to Kissing Camel Ridge.

Title: Navigation, Scouting, and Search & Rescue Using a Drone
Crew Member: Mason Kuhn
Objectives: The navigational objective is to explore areas of interest and routes to them for safe passage on foot, by a rover, or both. The scouting objective is to find new areas of interest for the geologist and any other crew member who is looking for a specific area, formation, or other items. The objective of search and rescue will be to compare the time taken to locate a ‘lost’ astronaut using the drone’s technology and on foot.
Description: Navigational EVA’s will be conducted as needed and upon request by other crew members who are looking for an aerial view of the path they will take. Media will be collected using the drone camera and shared with the crew members. Scouting EVA’s will be conducted also as needed, and it is expected to scout for different formations for geology areas of interest. This will be done to investigate other areas that might not be planned to visit. While navigation and scouting are used more to help other crew members, S&R will be the main focus of this research with quantifiable data. Time trials will be conducted 2+ times (as time allows) and compared in order to prove which method of S&R is more efficient.
Rationale: Astronauts on Mars will experience dust and windstorms which could pose a risk to their lives, no matter whether they are out of the HAB or ‘safely’ inside of it. There are other possible weather-related risks, or an astronaut could possibly forget their way back to the HAB. In any of these scenarios and likely some other scenarios, search and rescue will be required to save the astronaut’s life.
EVAs Required: Minimum 2 S&R EVAs to collect data, Minimum 1 Navigational EVA (more if needed), Minimum 1 Scouting EVA (more if needed)

Title: The Effectiveness of 3D Printing in a Mars Analog Environment
Crew Member: Megan Rush
Objectives: Test to see if plastic 3D printed tools work just as well as metal tools in a remote environment where it can be hard to plan for events that may require the use of these tools.
Description: A 3D printer was brought to MDRS to print models of rock hammers, shovels, wrenches, screwdrivers, and other tools. These tools will be brought on a geological EVA and used in the field to see how well the plastic performs its intended job.
Rationale: It is hard to plan ahead for events in a remote environment. If a hammer on Mars breaks, and if there are no extras, then astronauts would have to wait a long time for a resupply, which is wasted time. Using a 3D printer in this environment would allow for unlimited extras at a lower cost and shorter time.
EVAs Required: At least one in conjunction with geological EVAs.

Title: Human Adaptation to the Mars Desert Research Station Environment
Crew Member: Arly Black
Objectives: Assess how humans adapt physically and mentally to confined, isolated, and extreme environments, and assess whether air quality in the hab and spacesuits can be correlated to astronaut performance.
Description: Research involves daily touch-based, computer administered cognitive performance tests, evaluating spatial orientation, vigilance, and mental workload. Additional research will study the physiology of participants before, after, and throughout the mission via a smart tracker FitBit device worn around the wrist. Participants will also be required to fill out daily personal survey about their perceived mood, health, sleep, workload, and crewmember conflicts to see how the mission is affecting perceived mental and physical states.
Rationale: Stressors such as high workload, sleep restriction, circadian misalignment, team dynamics, confinement, isolation, and extreme environments can threaten the ability of astronauts to sustain high levels of cognitive performance over prolonged periods of time. There are few data points about the physical and mental strain astronauts experience on real long-term space exploration missions. As the conditions analog crew members will face replicate those of off-world environments, this is a key study from which to gather information to inform future real-life missions.
EVAs Required: None

Title: Analysis of Plant Efficiency, Yield, Microbial Diversity with Application of Astrobiome Fertilization Cocktails in Daikon Radish
Crew Member: Madelyn Whitaker
Objectives: Validate main claims of Astrobiome performance in Martian analog, analyze photosynthetic efficiency of samples, effects of wilting on shelf life, gain data on plant performance from analog participants
Description: Test effects of applied concentration gradient on physical characteristics of Daikon radish (1) by applying recommended Astrobiome dose at a 2^n scale. Visually analyze effects of harvest, refrigeration on samples with and without fertilization (2). Gain data, crew testimony of performance of plants (3). Samples at the root, shoot, as well as the substrate, will be frozen in RNA-Later for transcriptomics and analysis.
Rationale: Astrobiome is a prospective fertilizer for use in closed environment agriculture for future lunar and Martian mission. This study aims to validate and quantify the claims of product performance in terms of increased yield, quality, and other characteristics on Daikon radish. Additional introduction of contamination into the experimental design allows for simulation of bacterial presence in closed inhabitation, and further analysis of the bacterial community in these plant systems can provide information on root and bacterial relationships in these systems. It would be beneficial how the microbiome interacts with the plant root system and contributes to overall growth of a model plant other than that with which it was tested; microgreens are often less intensive and more nutrient dense.
EVAs Required: None

Title: Smart Scheduling and Objective Prioritization on a Martian Mission
Crew Member: Kenny Pritchard
Objectives: Autonomously prioritize, schedule, and accomplish crew tasks. Respond to distractions with minimal disruption to the schedule. Qualify the implicit challenges of accomplishing science objectives among the habitat responsibilities and environmental hazards of Martian missions.
Description: This project is effectively a case study of our ability to complete objectives during our rotation. The understanding we gain could inform decisions related to scheduling and smart autonomous planning in future missions to MDRS or other Martian habs.
Rationale: While a wealth of knowledge and experience regarding crew scheduling has been developed on ongoing space missions, future Martian missions will face new challenges. The increased communication delay alone has the potential to cause activity interruptions to a mission where every minute counts. Martian crews will not have immediate access to the indispensable advice of Mission Control — they will need to operate with a degree of independence previously untested.
EVAs Required: None

Mission Plan – November 27th


The Aerospace Corporation does not currently have a standing Institutional Review Board (IRB) for human-subject research. Aerospace has leveraged their Environmental Health & Safety (EHS) organization’s Project Safety Review (PSR) which accounts for any hazardous materials that may be encountered during a planned project. The crew members have completed identified training. The Aerospace crew has also received corporate concurrence from General Counsel, Human Resources, Office of Chief Financial Officer, and Corporate Communications with no noted concerns. The senior leadership of the Aerospace Civil Systems Group (CSG), including Sr. VP and General Manager of Human Exploration & Spaceflight (HESF), have concurred on the scope and application of research within this proposed mission plan, and agree it does not contain human-subject research, and that Aerospace crew members will abide by standard ethics practices. For any future analog missions that contain customer-sponsored activities, such activities will be reviewed by an IRB of the originating/owning institution. No crew health data will be collected regarding Crew 269 activities.

Notional EVA Plan

The EVA plan will be considered research led by the crew Executive Officer. This notional plan considers mission priorities, flight rules, and high-level activity durations. Crew 269 will first consult with MDRS Mission Control and MDRS protocols for planning the following day’s EVAs. The Crew 269 EVA plan provides 11 planned EVAs (on 9 mission days), sometimes with multiple objectives within a single EVA. Each EVA crew will stay together, even when there are multiple objectives on an EVA, and will maintain communications with the IVA crew. The EVA plan considers 1 built-in “rest” days and 1 built-in “back up” where the crew does not perform EVA activities; these serve as a backup for any rescheduling due to issues with prior EVAs, weather delays, etc. Actual targeted locations for EVA activities will be determined by the crew while on-site during the mission, in order to account for observations and feedback from crew members in mission planning.

Table 4 provides a sol-by-sol look at the nominal EVA and activity plan. On Sol 6, after retrieving the Mirror experiment, IVA crew will need to inspect the payload. A 2nd EVA will be required to re-deploy the payload. The balloon launch will occur on Sol 10, to give ample time for the crew to get comfortable on site, accomplish a number of objectives, and minimize the time between balloon launch and retrieval. Our final full day (Sol 12) at MDRS will be reserved as a “Media Day”. More information on or STEM outreach objectives can be found in section 9 of this document.

Table 4 Notional EVA Plan


Notional crew EVA assignments have been completed, accounting for each crew member conducting 5-6 EVAs over the course of the mission. Crew not assigned to EVA will be responsible for IVA (cap com) and recording notes when in communication with the crew. Table 5 was created to make sure the planned EVAs were distributed evenly including use of the MDRS electric vehicles “rovers”.

Table 5 Notional Crew EVA Assignments


Exploration efficiency will be a technical evaluation in conjunction with all crew inputs, recorded statistics, notes, and contributions. The IVA crew will be recording time stamps during EVA activities in order to understand planned versus actual for EVA activities. The IVA crew will act as a temp mission control or “cap com” for procedures and communications. Overall evaluation of the activity timeline, replanning activities, use of Aero support team, crew autonomy levels, and communication methodology influence on EVA will be considered.

No crew health data will be collected regarding EVAs.

Communication Methodology

Led by Barbara Braun, (developed by Braun’s middle schooler) the crew communication methodology will entail the crew will utilizing a discord server for “near real-time” experiment feedback from Aerospace mission support Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) on EVAs and activity replanning, as well as provide an opportunity for STEM outreach. The discord server will account for time/communication delays, with multiple private channels for crew to keep in communication with family, Aerospace mission support personnel, and teachers from around the United States. The discord server will allow the crew to feel connected to friends and family with a low-bandwidth SMS texting level of capability.

Project Phantom Demo

The Phantom Demonstration is a Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) exploration methodology led by the crew Technical Officer, Trevor Jahn (developed in conjunction with his Aerospace team personnel). Project Phantom will be a key highlight of our mission, combining 3D model generating technology, Virtual Reality (VR), and Augmented Reality (AR) for space-based application. The crew will collect imagery data via different photogrammetry techniques, which involves stitching together large collections of overlapping photographs to create 3D digital models. The crew will collect this imagery via camera-mounted rover, camera-mounted drone, and hand-held camera, at areas of interest. The 3D model of the operational environment will be used for EVA mission planning, in conjunction with AR activities during EVAs.

EVA Tool Demo

The EVA Tool Demonstration will be led by Kristine Ferrone and Alli Taylor as a continuation from the International Institute for Astronautical Sciences (IIAS) EVA 103 course, with research conducted in the July 2021 timeframe. For MDRS 269 tool demonstration will include radiation scanning and sample collection techniques. It may be important to survey the surface layer of regolith for radiation before excavating an area of interest. Advantages of local radiation mapping include production of higher resolution surveys as opposed to remote mapping, limited distortion of measurements by planetary atmospheres, and the ability of an astronaut to rake or dig within the regolith to survey beyond the immediate surface. The latter is particularly important to distinguish between radiation emitted by regolith activated by solar particle event (SPE) or galactic cosmic radiation (GCR) at ~cm depths, albedo (reflected) primary or secondary solar or galactic cosmic radiation, and native/naturally occurring radioisotope content within the regolith. EVAs should collect samples that can be further studied back on Earth. Potential samples at different size grains may be advantageous depending on the priorities of the sample collection activity. Crew may demo sifting of the sample for targeted grain size in attempt to provide beneficiation of sample before further processing (such as in ISRU use cases). If a sample is taken, the team should first photograph the area, and photograph the sample with a label, before bagging the sample. No crew health data will be collected regarding EVA tool demonstration.

Mirror Surface Coating Experiment

The Mirror Surface Coating Durability experiment, overseen at MDRS by Ashley Kowalski and Trevor Jahn, developed in conjunction with on-going research at Aerospace’s Physical Sciences Laboratory (PSL), will allow the crew to deploy a payload containing small mirrors with thin-film coatings, monitor mirror surface degradation under simulated accelerated environmental exposure, and periodically inspect the payload during the mission. Data from inspections and the final collection of the payload will return the payload to the PSL for further inspection post-mission. Mirror surfaces simulate delicate science instrumentation, as high-reflectivity Ag mirrors are widely used in space applications. However, exposure to environmental contaminants rapidly degrades optical performance, where corrosion results in reduced reflectivity and increased scatter. This degradation has serious implications on the mirror performance lifetime on planetary surfaces such as Mars. Payload data will be compared to control data, or laboratory simulated environments from prior experiments. No crew health data will be collected regarding deployment/collection/inspection of mirror experiment.

Athena/ HYFIT Exercise Operations

Operational evaluation led by Barbara Braun and Kristine Ferrone. Astronauts spend a significant amount of time completing mission tasks so finding time for feasible amounts of exercise is a priority. Astronauts are also in confined quarters so the space available for exercise is limited, therefore minimizing the size and mass of exercise equipment is necessary. Taking these considerations into account, the modified Athena protocol will allow for crew members to break their exercise into three 15-minute increments throughout the day. Crew will also be offered the ability to “choose their own adventure” from the following workouts:

  • HyGear resistance bands (

    • Not a paid endorsement, Aerospace and HYFIT established a memorandum of understanding (MOU)

    • Pre-choreographed workout options to follow via HYFIT app (pre-downloaded)

  • Total Body Workout

    • Squats, lunges, pushups/shoulder tap, sit-ups/crunches, skater jumps, glute bridge, high knees, leg lifts, hovers, etc. in timed sets.

    • Benefit of aerobic exercise with no equipment needed

    • Pre-choreographed workout videos pre-downloaded as an option

  • Yoga/meditation/stretching/other

    • Pre-choreographed workout videos pre-downloaded as an option

    • Good alternate to have on busy, stressful, or long EVA days

Anonymous evaluation and assessment of the style of workout chosen, and how it fit into the workday (or changes made such as fewer workouts) will be provided. No crew health data will be collected regarding the workout routine.

High Altitude Balloon

Led by Matthew Eby, the crew will explore EVA launch of a high-altitude balloon experiment to complement ground-based weather observations, or in response to a Martian atmospheric event (dust storm). This experiment will evaluate the technical ability of a suited 2-person crew to prepare and launch a weather balloon, followed by receipt of telemetered data to the habitat. Experiment factors include low surface wind, cloud ceiling minimums, precipitation. The crew will need procedures for safe handling of a helium bottle, which will be stored in a secured area during transit and prior to the event. The balloon will be exempt from permit due to size and will have regulation of “no undue hazard”. The crew will provide a pre-launch notification to the FAA traffic control and provide expected rise rate (1000 ft/min) and location (about 5 mi west of Hanksville). No crew health data will be collected regarding the deployment of the balloon.

STEM Outreach

The Aerospace MDRS 269 crew has a number of STEM outreach objectives for their inaugural mission:

  • The Aerospace MDRS 269 crew will be featured on Aerospace’s The Space Policy Show (SPS) on November 17th leading up to the mission.

    • This event leverages the SPS audience from over 100 prior episodes

  • The Aerospace MDRS 269 crew will be hosting a live Audience with Aerospace event during their time at MDRS on Friday December 9th (Sol 12, Media Day, not in simulation) on

    • This event leverages the Aerospace STEM email distribution list, with interest from throughout the United States

  • The Aerospace MDRS 269 crew will have a Discord channel for registered STEM participants, where the crew can respond to questions asked by anyone who signs up to engage with the crew on the Discord server. The crew can respond to questions in their free time during the mission. The discord server will account for time delay to/from Mars!

  • Aerospace will host a corporate videographer on our Media Day Dec. 9th to capture footage for post-mission production footage (a separate shoot schedule will be provided)

    • 1:1 Interviews

    • Staging a few key experiments

    • Group photos

  • Aerospace will be coordinating with their social media team prior to the mission and providing content for socials throughout the mission.

Mapping to LEAG Analog Objectives

Our crew has taken an initial cut at how we think our mission activities could inform some of the published Lunar Exploration Analysis Group (LEAG) Analog Objectives for Artemis (AOA). Any contributions to these areas would be relevant to solving near term exploration challenges, as lunar operations will be considered an analog for future Mars missions. A more detailed look at how MDRS operations or Aerospace analog operations could contribute to these areas will be provided in a final mission report.

Table 6 Crew Activities Aligned to LEAG Analog Objectives

Crew 269 Activity Name


Requires EVA

Tie to the Lunar Exploration Analysis Group (LEAG) Analog Objectives for Artemis (AOA) Specific Action Team (SAT) report appendices

Notional EVA Plan and efficiency

-Record overhead vs utilization time spent, planned vs actual time allocation for activities, replanning of activities

-Record notes for utilization of Aerospace mission support

-Implement communications methodology (discord channels)

During all

A; Science support room (SSR) integration and structure

K; Communications Architecture

L; Crew autonomy

Phantom AR/VR

-Eval series of imagery collection techniques via multiple methods

-Perform/send data processing for VR

-Use of AR in EVA for navigation, site inspection


C; Instrumentation

F; Imaging

I; Documentation

J; Advanced Technologies

K; communications architecture

L; crew autonomy

N; Location/Navigation

O; Test Design

EVA Tool Evaluation

-Demo conops for radiation tool

-Demo sample collection conops


F; Imaging (TBD)

G; Sampling (TBD)

H; Tool and Tool/Sample/Payload Management

Mirror Surface Coating Experiment

-Payload deployment

-Scientific inspection, monitoring, measurements


C; Instrumentation

Athena Exercise Protocol

-Conduct 15m x3 workouts in daily routine with HYFIT equipment


L; Crew autonomy

Space Weather Monitoring

-Sun spot counting on solar observatory


Atmospheric High-Altitude Balloon

– Balloon deployment on EVA


Crew Bios, Photos, Patch – November 13th

MDRS Crew 268
November 13-26, 2022

Name: Dr. Jennifer Hesterman
Colonel, US Air Force (retired)
Crew Title: Commander
Country: United States
Bio: Jenni is a retired Air Force colonel and counterterrorism expert. She has a doctorate in Higher
Education, MS degrees in Applied Behavioral Science and Military Operational Art and Science, and a BS
in Geography. She is an author, professor, public speaker and explorer who reached both the North and
South Poles.
Name: Elizabeth Balga
Crew Title: Health & Safety Officer
Country: United States
Bio: Elizabeth is an engineer specializing in spacecraft flight crew integration, test, and operations on
Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner Program. She holds a BS in Aerospace Engineering and an MS in aerospace
Astronautical Engineering. She has an Emergency Medical Technician certification, advanced and rescue
SCUBA certifications, and works part-time as a parabolic flight attendant for the Zero Gravity Corporation.
Name: Caitlyn Hubric
Crew Title: Crew Biologist & Crew Greenhab Officer
Country: United States
Research: Caitlyn is a student pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Astrobiology. She currently does
research in areas of chemical soil ecology and is working to help design the food
production/decomposition stage of a bioregenerative life support system for a colony. She plans to search
for microorganisms at MDRS that could potentially have plant growth promoting capabilities and could be
utilized in regolith based agriculture.
Name: Judith Marcos
Crew Title: Crew Engineer
Country: United States
Bio: Judith Marcos is a student still at the start of her engineering career. She is currently pursuing a
mechanical and civil engineering degree at MCC. In order to further develop her knowledge and
experience in engineering, Judith holds a position as an intern at the Tx Department of Transportation.
The previous year her team has also competed and placed in the 2022 Nasa MINDS competition.
Name: Jas Purewal
Crew Title: XO/Scientific Officer
Country: United Kingdom
Jas Purewal MSc Astrophysics. Senior research scientist working for a UK national lab. Co-founder and
Executive Director of The Analog Astronaut Community and Conference. In 2020, Jas built a low-fidelity
habitat and conducted her own analog mission in the UK.
Name: Izabela Shopova
Crew Title: Communication Officer

Country: Bulgaria (New Zealand, Australia)
Bio: Izabela is an engineer with 15 years experience in information management systems and process
optimisation, a popular writer of non-fiction books and a learning designer. She has a fascination with
extreme Mars-like environments and has participated in an Antarctic expedition in 2016, and traveled
through the Atacama desert in 2018. Izabela was a semifinalist for the first FMARS mission in 2014.
Strong supporter of the liberalisation of space, Izabela is working on developing an accessible interactive
learning experience for analog astronauts across the world.

Mission Plan – November 13th

November 13-26, 2022
Crew Commander: Jenni Hesterman (United States)
Executive Officer/Crew Scientist: Jas Purewal (United Kingdom)
Health and Safety Officer: Elizabeth Balga (United States)
Crew Biologist & Crew Greenhab Officer : Caitlyn Hubric (United States)
Crew Engineer: Judith Marcos (United States)
Crew Journalist: Izabela Shopova (Bulgaria)
MDRS Crew 268 is an all-woman crew from three countries. All crewmembers will be at MDRS for the first time.
Below is a detailed summary of planned projects during the mission.

Jenni Hesterman
Crew education regarding strategies to enhance knowledge of self and maximize success working in diverse groups in a remote, austere environment. Training topics include how to take and use the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, VARK Learning Preference Tool, and the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument. Training sessions will also cover dynamic subordinancy, the gifts of fear and intuition, and how to survive the unthinkable. Also will assist in the greenhab.

Jas Purewal
Quality improvement for future research to investigate using the PARO therapeutic robot to mitigate crew stress and feelings of isolation during analog space missions. Educational First aid training using VR. Emotion study of crew in collaboration with Alex Hoffman.

Elizabeth Balga
Gather knowledge on nominal and off-nominal crew operations during Mars habitat stay and surface EVAs. Plan and execute EVAs to support the crew’s science, engineering, exploration, and training objectives. Support Crew Biologist in field and Greenhab experiments. Post-mission, gather knowledge on medical infrastructure needs by assessing crewmember biometrics during habitat and EVA operations. As the HSO, provide real-time support and oversight to the crew throughout the simulation to ensure crewmember physical and mental health, as well as environmental and operational safety.

Caitlyn Hubric
Looking for microorganisms on EVA growing on roots and/or leaves of plants in desert conditions in search for a microorganism that helps with water stress/growing in regolith-like conditions . Also looking into the application of using edible decomposers to break down organic material while generating food for the crew.

Judith Marcos
My team participated in the 2022 NASA MINDS and submitted a 3D anchor prototype. I will be testing Anchor Atlas in various ways in order to find failure in material, design or in its limits/goals. From limited access while using it, its carry capacity and UV radiation effects on a variety of 3D filaments.

Izabela Shopova
Benefits of introducing probiotics and microgreens in the crew’s menu by the means of making yogurt from powdered milk and live lactobacteria Bacilicus Bulgaricus, and growing microgreens from seeds. Developing pre-mission and mission induction training for analog astronauts. A crew journalist will be responsible for the communication with mission support and develop video for the media.

Mission Plan – April 25th

Crew 265 – Mars Society

Crew Commander/Cartographer: Marc Levesque (United States)

Executive Officer/Crew Engineer: David Laude (United States)

Crew Engineer/Health and Safety Officer: Sergii Iakymov (Ukraine)

Crew Journalist: Sarah Treadwell (United States)

Mapping Technician: Benino Blanco (Mexico)

Mapping Technician: Isai Licea (United States)

MDRS Crew 265 is a diverse group of individuals selected from individual applications. Two members (Levesque and Laude) have been part of previous missions at MDRS, while all others will be at MDRS for the first time. The mission’s primary objectives will be to improve operations and media awareness of MDRS. Projects will include testing a new radio communications system, updating the EVA planning map, tracking energy consumption, testing station device batteries, and increasing social media presence. The crew’s daily priority will be to maintain all MDRS facilities, vehicles, and equipment in a safe and operable condition.

Below is a detailed summary of planned projects during the mission.

Radio Communications Project

Marc Levesque

The Mars Desert Research Station is situated in a secluded area surrounded by low hills. Radio communications between the Hab and EVA teams use small handheld radios on a UHF frequency of the General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) band. These handheld radios are limited to five watts of power and rely upon line-of-sight communications. Previous MDRS crews have noted communications issues between the Hab and EVA teams, however. Of significance is the loss of communications between the Hab and EVA teams when the latter have traveled into areas beyond hills that block transmissions and reception, a common issue with UHF frequencies and line-of-sight communications in such terrain.

This problem has been noted by Station Support personnel and other crews. In 2016 Bernard Dubb offered solutions to improve communications at MDRS using a more powerful radio system retaining the handheld GRMS radios but adding a more powerful base station radio inside the Hab with an outside antenna. An alternative solution was the installation of a small repeater system away from the Hab.

During MDRS 216, the crew identified a location through geospatial analysis for the installation of a small radio repeater to potentially extend the range of communications between the Hab and EVA teams. This location on North Ridge was reached on foot during an EVA to determine the feasibility for the installation of a temporary repeater at that site, as well as for any maintenance required during its period of operation.

During MDRS 265, a small repeater will be installed on the North Ridge. It will operate in cross-band mode that allows a UHF signal to be re-transmitted to a VHF signal and vice versa. This will permit the Hab to transmit line-of-sight to the repeater on the currently-used GMRS UHF channel. EVA teams will then use dual-band VHF/UHF handheld radios programmed to transmit to the repeater using a VHF frequency licensed to Western New Mexico University. Because these project radios will transmit on a VHF frequency to a repeater located on a high point, it is expected that EVA teams will be able to travel much farther while still remaining in radio communication with the Hab.

The project radios will include the currently-used GRMS UHF channel, providing the ability to talk directly with the Hab, rather than through the repeater if necessary. These radios will also use longer antennas than the current MDRS radios and can transmit up to five watts.

During MDRS 265, EVA teams will travel to sites normally visited by EVA teams and beyond. Teams will carry an existing MDRS radio and a project radio to test the signal strength and voice clarity of each with a Hab communications operator. These indices and location coordinates will be noted on a project map to capture the difference in communication between the two radios. The intent is to determine the value of a new communications system using a VHF frequency for enhancing crew safety during EVAs.

EVA Planning Map

Marc Levesque, Benino Blanco, and Isai Licea

Prior to entering sim, the crew cartographer and mapping technicians will meet with the Station Director to review and assess needed changes to the current EVA Planning Map. During sim, the mapping cadre and other crew members will then conduct several EVAs to collect or ground truth via GPS various features, points of interest, road conditions, and other desired changes to provide the needed edits and additions. This work will build upon the GIS files developed by Henrik Hargitai and others from 2006 to 2016 to create the current EVA map. To leverage time in the field, the mapping project EVAs will run concurrently with the radio communications EVAs that will capture radio signal strength and clarity. After a review of the collected data by the Station Director, a map will be generated post-mission and submitted for approval and final printing.

Smart Home Technologies for an Analog Mars Habitat

Sergii Iakymov

Space exploration is hard on systems, and all manned spacecraft are automated. Automated technologies do most of the routine procedures on their own and only notify crew and ground control if something is wrong. No doubt future habitats on Mars will be very smart to free up time for the crew to do research. Analog astronauts at MDRS also require extra time for research. That time can be gained by implementing Smart Home technologies that will take over some routine procedures.

The project goal is to implement Smart Home technologies during an analog simulation at MDRS. We will study how automated technologies can improve daily life at the station, how much time it will free for the crew, and how it will help ground control to collect data from the station.

For this engineering research, currently available Smart Home devices will be used. Main points of this approach include:

1) Analog simulation at MDRS is relatively short, up to two weeks. Therefore, simplified setup procedures are necessary.

2) The approach will not interfere with station construction.

3) In case of a malfunction, any device will be easily replaced from inventory.

4) There is no need to design new devices.

5) Minimizing system development time by using existing free tutorials.

6) Research will show how this system will improve analog simulation.

7) Using plug-and-play devices where possible.

8) In some cases, where plug-and-play devices cannot be used, permission to wire into the power circuit will be obtained.

The type of Smart Home devices to be used include a Raspberry Pi server, control terminal, temperature sensors, humidity sensors, air pressure sensors, door sensors, smart plugs, smart light control, and remote controls.

The proposed engineering research will have two main phases:

1) The first phase will observe daily crew routine and how different electrical equipment is being utilized. Every day meetings will be conducted to survey crew requirements for the Smart Home system. At the same time, a Smart Home server and environmental sensors will be installed and configured.

2) The second phase will install Smart Home technologies based upon crew recommendations. After installation, crew training will be conducted, and the devices turned on. During phase two, all systems will be monitored daily, and crew feedback logged.

At the end of the project, all Smart Home devices will be unplugged and collected. Later, a project report will be submitted to the Station Director.

Battery Testing

Dave Laude

The many portable devices at MDRS use batteries, all with finite life and various ages, resulting in some device failures for nearly every crew. For this project a battery analyzer will be used to test all suspected failed EVA suit and all operating radio batteries. All batteries installed in EVA suits will be tested in parallel by charging to full and then running the fans continuously, checking battery voltage at time intervals for up to four hours. Following the tests, labels will be attached to each radio battery and suspect EVA suit battery indicating a test serial number, date of test, battery capacity, and “good”, “fair” or “failed”. All results will be sent to mission support.

Social Media Presence

Sarah Treadwell

This project will document the MDRS experience in a journalistic style, conducting interviews and issuing daily reports. Of particular interest will be to look at the human condition, examining the mentalities and psyches throughout the course of the crew’s mission. The project will utilize modern social media methods to share the experience for promotional purposes and to educate the public via YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and others. A connection to Blue Marble Space platforms will also help promote coverage of the experience and connection between the organizations. Permission to be interviewed and filmed will be obtained from each crew member prior to project commencement.

Submitted by:

Marc Levesque

Crew 265 Commander

Mission Plan – April 11th

Crew 245 Mission Plan 11th April 2022

SOL: 01
Name of person filing report: Vittorio Netti

The SMOPS crew has 13 experiments, both passive and active, mainly focused on crew monitoring and support. They are divided into four main categories: crew health, space suits and monitoring, space support technology, and planetary science. For the first category, Benjamin Pothier (crew journalist) will make use of electroencephalography to observe the changes in his brain during meditation sessions and we will perform a spit test for cortisol measurement to estimate two crew members’ stress levels before and after an EVA (PI: Nadia Maarouf, HSO). In the second category, crew gear (prototype flight suit and boots) and wearable sensors will be tested to monitor the movements of crew members during EVAs (PI: Paolo Guardabasso, XO), and each crew member will also wear an undergarment for continuous monitoring (PI: Nadia). We will also test some technologies that will support astronaut activities in future missions, such as purification of air from bacteria and satellite communication (PI: Luca Rossettini, crew engineer), 3D scanning of station modules and geological features (PI: Benjamin), 3D Printing of tools and drone flight (PI: Vittorio Netti, commander). Last but not least, we’ll take advantage of the geological analogy between MDRS site and Mars, collecting samples in search of micrometeorites and DNA traces (PI: Simone Paternostro, crew scientist).

This challenging list of experiments will require intensive EVAs, with the following main objectives: 3D Scan of MDRS modules and of geological features around the MDRS site; test of 3D printed objects in sample collection and other operations; drone flight to search for interesting geological features; test of shoes, flight suits, lower suit, helmet for ergonomy on different terrains and record data with wearables; sample collection (10 to 30 locations) for micrometeoroids and DNA samples. 1 EVA walking in the area around Hab (4 locs), 1 South (4 locs), 1 East (4 locs), 1 West (4-8 locs); antenna assembly and maintenance.

Throughout the mission we will also perform outreach and filming activities: Benjamin is currently working on a documentary on analogue missions and he will film the crew performing operations with cameras and drones; there will be an attempt to leave a camera outside during an EVA and leave it on overnight for a sky timelapse. We will also take time to acknowledge our sponsors.

Commander, out

Mission Plan January 18th

Mission Plan Crew 226

Team Colombia


From January 16th to the 30th, 2022, the second Colombian Mars Simulation Analog Mission will take place in the MDRS. The team is integrated by Colombian students, investigators and professionals in the areas of Science, Engineering and Tech strongly related to the aerospace field. Among other challenges for the mission crew will be to go through confinement and isolation in this habitat for 15 days, on a diet based on dehydrated food and limitations on the use of water and communications.

-The Colombian main crew, Crew 226, includes:

· The Mechanical Engineering student Felipe Torres, with the position of Crew Scientist.

· Carlos Salazar, Mechatronic Engineer candidate for a master’s degree in Engineering– with the position of Crew Engineer, both from the National University of Colombia (Universidad Nacional de Colombia).

· Cristian Acosta, aerospace engineer from Blue Origin, in charge of Health and Security Officer.

· Maria Paula Bustos, Geologist and Master’s student in Geodesy and Geoinformation Science -Technische Universität Berlin, with the position of Greenhab Officer and Crew Geologist.

· Yael Méndez, Microbiologist, from Universidad de los Andes and Master’s student in Geosciences from Universidad Nacional de Colombia with the position of commander.

The Crew Organizer is David Mateus, Mechatronic Engineer and Master’s student in Space Studies at the University of North Dakota


Carlos SALAZAR (Crew Engineer)

Project Title: 3D Mapping for rovers using point cloud stitching and Kinect

Description: Build a system that gets point clouds taken with a 3D camera on an element like the Kinect sensor and joins them together to make a 3D map of the environment and locate itself in it. The following tasks have been defined:

· Get the points clouds using Kinect and point cloud library

· Process the point clouds taken

· Check and validate point cloud stitching algorithms

· Check and validate point cloud matching algorithms

· Integrate the developed modules

Methodology: The method of research selected for this project is going to be experimental, the samples taken with the sensor will be taken mainly in indoor areas or in a controlled environment, a portion of the solution will use methods from the point cloud library PCL using example point clouds. The idea is to check if those methods work with our samples and how a correct integration of all the modules can be made, identifying its weak points to propose and evaluate ways to improve them.

Maria Paula BUSTOS (Crew Green Hab Officer)

Project #1 Title: Germination of seeds in MDRS

Description: Evaluate the germination of seeds in the Mars Desert Research Station by cultivating the same kind of seeds in the germination machine located in the Science Dom and in the Green-Hab facility to determine which of both facilities offers the most efficient conditions for the germination of the cultivated seeds in the research station.

Methodology: 1) Cultivate one kind of seeds (based on the ones available in the station) in six pots and put half of them in the germinator machine located in the Science Dom and the other three pots in the Green-hab Facility. 2) Make daily measurements of the size of the leaves in the four pots. 3) compare results and determine which facility is more efficient to grow this kind of seeds in the research station.

Project #2 Title: Classical music and the growth of plants at MDRS

Description: Evaluate the growth of cherry tomatoes and mint plants in the station under the sound of the classical music of Johan Sebastian Bach by exposing these plants daily to Bach’s songs and comparing them to a control group that is not going to be exposed to this music, and determine if Bach songs have an impact in the rate of growth of these plants in the MDRS Green-hab.

Methodology: 1) Select two cherry plants and two mint plants that were cultivated at the same time and exposed to the same conditions during the last weeks and measure the size of its leaves and the number of fruits and flowers they have. 2) Expose daily for three hours one mint plant and one cherry plant to Bach songs. 3) Measure daily the size of the leaves and the number of fruits and flowers of each of the plants exposed to classical music and the ones not exposed (control group). 4) compare results and determine if the exposure to Bach classical music affects the growth of tomato cherry and mint plants in the research station.

Felipe TORRES (Crew Scientist)

Project Title: Feasibility of using bo-PET films to build an emergency Space Tent.

Description: Analysis of the insulating efficiency of a biaxially oriented polyethylene terephthalate (bo-PET) film in order to determine the feasibility of building an emergency space tent for EVA’s in Mars and other aerospace applications using this material.

Methodology: Take measurements of Humidity and Temperature using a DHT11 sensor and Arduino. These measurements will be taken on different control volumes outdoors both with and without the thermal insulation provided by our material. To consider meteorological factors, these measurements will be taken at different times of the day and at different locations around the station. The insulative material will then be tested on different crew members, by providing a protective layer with the material and the body temperature will be measured with and without this insulative layer.

Yael Natalia Méndez (Commander)

Project Title: Clays identification through reflectance spectrometry and Raman spectroscopy.

Description: This project seeks to use Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) to analyze the impact that clays variations and recognize their mineralogy through the laboratory techniques (reflectance spectrometry and Raman spectroscopy), and compare that with the instruments applied in the perseverance rover.

Methodology: Collect samples of different types of clays found in the MDRS and they will be processed in Colombia by Grupo de caracterización tecnológica de minerales at Universidad Nacional de Colombia.

Crew 228 Mission Plan


The MDRS 228 crew is an international crew selected by the Mars Society. Our team will travel to the Mars Desert Research Station this year to help put humans on Mars. We are engineers, artists, sociologists, astronomers, biologists, journalists, and physicians, who hail from all walks of life and eight nations. But most of all, we are explorers.

Although we started as a group of strangers who have never met before in person, we share a common goal to serve as “one small step” toward sending humankind to Mars. Over the 2.5 years, we have been carefully preparing for a productive mission on the red planet from all across the globe.

From September 26 to October 9, 2021, we will reside together as “analog astronauts” at the MDRS. Together, we will conduct activities in simulated space conditions. Many compelling experiments cannot be swiftly performed in space due to limitations in time, money, and equipment. Simulated missions like ours can provide humankind with crucial data about the validity of potential space exploration operations.

We will also be proudly wearing our mission patch, conducting research activities, and performing outreach projects. To see more about the symbology of our mission patch and details about our research and outreach activities, please view our mission website at:


Gender, emotions, and status in space analog facilities: ethnographic data collection (University of Iowa IRB #201911141)

By: Inga Popovaite

During her time at the MDRS Inga will collect data using participant observation methodology for the last chapter of her dissertation. This project is approved by the University of Iowa IRB (#201911141). This study will examine crew interactions from the structural (as opposed to the individual) perspective, and will contribute to the growing body of literature that examines group processes in isolated, confined, and extreme environments.


Gender, emotions, and status in space analog facilities: emotion journal pilot study (University of Iowa IRB #201911141)

By: Inga Popovaite

In addition to participant observation, Inga plans to test data collection instruments for another part of the research project that examines gender, emotions, and status in space analog environments (University of Iowa IRB #201911141). Crew members will be given individual journals and will be asked to write daily entries based on provided prompts. The prompts ask participants to reflect on their emotions, experiences, and interaction with other crews during the day. Unlike the actual future study, this time crew members will be asked to provide feedback on their experience while journaling, such as time commitment, challenges, etc. The goal of this task is to improve journals as data collection instruments before using them in the future.

MDRS GIS map update

By: Jin Sia

In collaboration with: Marc Levesque

The current GIS map of MDRS is in need of updates. Marc Levesque has requested that the necessary changes be communicated back to him by sending him physical copies of the map that have been marked up. Dr. Shannon Rupert has marked up one map of the area with corrections.

Additionally, Marc will provide the crew with new four copies of the map. He has requested that one of them also be marked up with the crew’s and Shannon’s edits.

Both edited maps will then be collected by Jin and mailed to Marc. Marc will then transfer these edits into the MDRS GIS map, which is in digital form.

Jin will also collect answers to the following questions and deliver them to Marc to determine next steps:

– What MDRS geographic data is currently archived in the NAD27 datum?

– What is the reason that the current MDRS standard geographic projection is NAD27?

– If the geographic data have been stored digitally in NAD27, could they be migrated to WGS84 as the new standard?

GIS mapping of MDRS area

By: Jin Sia

In collaboration with: Marc Levesque

Jin will experiment with setting up a GIS map that is a ‘living document’ meant to be updated by crew after crew, permitting the accumulation of scientific data beyond the two-week length of a rotation. The map is designed with the primary objective of facilitating EVA planning by presenting data in an easy-to-use digital format, with both scientific and safety information readily available. During the rotation, Jin will refine the workflow for entering and retrieving data.

The project aims to answer the following research questions:

– How can GIS minimize the time, effort, and required expertise for the planning of an EVA?

– How can GIS maximize scientific return and safety for the execution of an EVA?

– What workflow is best for adding and updating geographic data in a digital map?

– What insights can be extracted from the accumulation of geographic data?

The detailed project plan is available on request.

Future MDRS Research Project Conceptual/Exploratory Investigation

By: David Laude

Dave has been thinking of investigating the prospects of a research project for my next rotation should I be so fortunate. Dave doesn’t know if this particular project has been done before and I think it’s a good use of some time at MDRS. Dave would need most or all crew member’s voluntary participation. It’s very simple and can provide very important insights. What would a nascent Martian colony want to be different on Mars from the culture and civilizations on Earth for the better? Why not ask those in a Martian sim? Dave expects that two 1 hour sessions might be enough time.This type of research is outside his area of expertise and so he has reluctance to try a full research project during Crew 228.

In-situ, real-time metagenomics analysis of MDRS regolith using the Oxford MinION

By: Lindsay Rutter

In this project, Lindsay will add to a unique body of astrobiological research that has been conducted by scientists at MDRS. She will add the next logical “stepping stone” in this stream of work that started 16 years ago. Below is a timeline of the previous work and how her project will build to it.

2005: Moran et al. confirmed the presence of methane in the Utah desert soil around MDRS (Moran et al. 2005). The authors provided preliminary evidence (using growth medium) that the methane could be derived by microbes, a finding that, if verified, would be intriguing given that methanogens were not known to survive in desert regolith.

2011: Direito et al. (Direito et al. 2011) and Thiel et al. (Thiel et al. 2011) conducted 16S rRNA studies and PCR-based detection surveys at MDRS. Both groups confirmed high bacterial diversity in the Utah desert soil.

2020: Maggiori et al. (Maggiori et al. 2020) performed the first metagenomics study of Utah desert soil around MDRS using the nanopore sequencing technology of the Oxford Nanopore MinION (Jain et al. 2016). Metagenomics (the study of genetic material collected directly from environmental samples) is a new approach that allows biologists to examine all members in a microbial community at once (regardless of whether they can be cultured). They characterized a rich microbial community that included several methanogens, which verified the unexpected preliminary evidence from 2005 that methanogens can indeed survive in desert conditions.

This proposal would represent the first to investigate not just the microbial diversity (metagenomics), but also the microbial ecology (metatranscriptomics), of the Utah desert soil around MDRS. This would allow us to increase the resolution and understand not just what microorganisms are present, but also what biochemical pathways and substrates they use to survive. Overall, the project will use MinION to sequence DNA and RNA to identify methane-producing metabolic pathways of the methanogens that were recently

detected for the first time in the desert environment.

Maggiori et al. (Maggiori et al. 2020) performed their MinION sequencing on MDRS samples returned to their home lab. In contrast, Lindsay will perform “handheld” MinION sequencing in-situ at the MDRS as a proof-of-concept that sequencing can be done in remote space analog environments far away from sequencing facilities, all while under planetary exploration operations.

Mars City State Design for 1,000,000 Population: An Integrated Model-based Approach towards Martian Settlements

By: Marufa Bhuiyan

Mission plan: Marufa will be based in Hawaii during the mission and she plans to do virtual meetings with the crew to discuss Mars city state design for 1,000,000 population. In real-time it may take 100 years but we are talking about “imaginary time” here (at a 45 degree angle). Every crew can choose their locations, strategy and projects to contribute their ideas for a self-sustaining city on Mars. We are pleased to inform that Marufa’s abstract got selected last year, and this year’s conference i.e. 24th Annual International Mars Society Convention will be held on Oct 14-17, 2021. You can register here: She will be speaking in a panel for 25 mins and 5 min Q & A. Before she speaks in the conference, she will be happy to share her internal databases, presentation and tools with the crew for Mars city state design for 1 million population. It should be fun, we can take each-others feedback for a case scenario e.g. let’s imagine if you were given the planet Mars, how would you like to rule! 🙂


Areonauts sharing their mission with elementary, middle, and high school students

By: Lindsay Rutter, Stuart Hughes, Yuzo Shibata, Olympiou Charikleia, Marufa Bhuiyan, Ludo Valentini, Inga Popovaite, Jin Sing Sia, and David Laude

This project is led by Stuart Hughes and Lindsay Rutter, with participation from all other crew members (Yuzo Shibata, Olympiou Charikleia, Marufa Bhuiyan, Ludo Valentini, Inga Popovaite, Jin Sing Sia, and David Laude). Lindsay Rutter gave virtual presentations about our mission to elementary students (4th and 5th grade), middle school students (7th grade), and high school students (11th grade) through the program “Skype a Scientist”. All together, the presentation about our mission was seen by about 250 students, many of whom sent in questions afterward.

Ludovica will also present the crew 228 and their mission to some high school classes in her hometown in Italy. The students will be encouraged to raise any questions and/or curiosity they might have about spaceflight analogs, Mars and the topic in general.

During the mission, our crew will answer all student questions at least in written format. The questions from the students spanned various fields from space farming to life support system engineering to planetary science to space medicine. With diverse expertise, our crew will work together to answer the questions as best as possible.

After we answer all questions in written format, we will select about 20 questions and answer them in video format. The in-situ crew will show off the habitat while answering questions and the remote crew will show how they support the mission remotely. Stuart Hughes will then collect the footage of our answers and edit it into an engaging and dynamic video. We will then send the video to all classrooms that participated. We will also send mission patches to several of the classrooms.

Areonauts at the Space Week 2021

By: Ludovica Valentini

Supported by the whole crew

Ludovica will present the crew 228 and their “hybrid” simulation, at the MDRS and from remote, during the Space Week 2021 organized by a municipality in the Italian region Marche. This will be achieved thanks to the in-situ crew collecting material such as videos and photos, and thanks to the contribution of the remote crew supporting with editing the footage from “Mars” and providing inputs and feedback about their remote simulation.

Media outreach

By: Inga Popovaite

Inga will be filming videos and taking pictures for Lithuanian media and for the University of Iowa alumni magazine.

Blogging from Mars

By: Jin Sia

On behalf of: Mars Society of Canada

Jin will be writing daily diary entries to be posted to the Mars Society of Canada’s website. These will be targeted at informing the general public about what life is like in a Mars analog.

Future Cafe on Mars: Year 2049

By: Marufa Bhuiyan

Following the instructions below we can envision how the future cities on Mars will look like in our Future Cafe 2049:

● Brainstorm ideas/drivers

○ Pick 2 drivers

○ Label poles: yes/no , high/low, more/less etc.

● Describe each quadrant:

○ Give each a name

○ Think about all the sectors

● Imagine waking up in that future. How would it feel or look?

● Consider your case

● Name one action you would need to do in each future for your cause to be successful.


Movie nights

By: All crew

● Galaxy Quest

● Spaceballs

● Moonbase 8

● Away

Discussion nights

By: David Laude

David is initiating evening discussions about anything interesting that each crew member in turn can suggest.

Radio Reception Experiments

By: David Laude

David Laude has a 1924 radio with him. The crew is planning to set it up to see what signals can be caught from Earth.

Star Party: Find your constellations and name them if you can!

By: Marufa Bhuiyan

Marufa plans to lead a start party helping other crew members identify stars and constellations. She will introduce history, science and mythology connected to the visible night sky.

The Bradbury Landing Novel Ideas Club

By: Lindsay Rutter

Our crew can hold a book club to discuss our favorite books related to space exploration. For starters, we can discuss two books, Gila Lost and Found: Search and Rescue in New Mexico (by Marc Levesque) and Strangest of All: Anthology of astrobiological science fiction (by Julie Nováková).

Lindsay has virtually corresponded with Marc Levesque for about two years. Marc was crew commander of MDRS Crew 216 and will command another MDRS mission in April 2022. He is Incident Commander with the New Mexico State Police Search and Rescue, where he manages rescue missions for lost, injured, and stranded individuals. He worked for the US Antarctic Research Program in the 1980s, where he provided science support in one winter-over and two austral summer missions. Marc recently published this book and kindly sent a copy to Lindsay at the Rock Shop of the Hanksville Spaceport. Lindsay will bring the book to MDRS to share with the crew. We can discuss how some of the search and rescue schemes can be applied to Mars EVAs.

Lindsay met Julie Nováková at an AbGradCon conference, where Julie provided access to her book about the search for extraterrestrial life. The book is an anthropological format with short science fiction stories (mostly written by scientists) about possible scenarios of discovering life outside of Earth. Ethical scenarios are also raised. We can discuss these stories and engage in constructive debates about the ethics related to this field of life detection exploration.


Direito, Susana O. L., Pascale Ehrenfreund, Andries Marees, Martijn Staats, Bernard Foing, and Wilfred F. M. Röling. 2011. “A Wide Variety of Putative Extremophiles and Large Beta-Diversity at the Mars Desert Research Station (Utah).” International Journal of Astrobiology.

Jain, Miten, Hugh E. Olsen, Benedict Paten, and Mark Akeson. 2016. “The Oxford Nanopore MinION: Delivery of Nanopore Sequencing to the Genomics Community.” Genome Biology.

Maggiori, Catherine, Jessica Stromberg, Yolanda Blanco, Jacqueline Goordial, Edward Cloutis, Miriam García-Villadangos, Victor Parro, and Lyle Whyte. 2020. “The Limits, Capabilities, and Potential for Life Detection with MinION Sequencing in a Paleochannel Mars Analog.” Astrobiology.

Moran, Mark, Joseph D. Miller, Tim Kral, and Dave Scott. 2005. “Desert Methane: Implications for Life Detection on Mars.” Icarus.

Thiel, Cora S., Pascale Ehrenfreund, Bernard Foing, Vladimir Pletser, and Oliver Ullrich. 2011. “PCR-Based Analysis of Microbial Communities during the EuroGeoMars Campaign at Mars Desert Research Station, Utah.” International Journal of Astrobiology.


Crew 228 Areonauts- MissionPlan (1).docx

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