Final Mission Summary – Crew 211

Mission Summary Report

 

Mars Desert Research Station Crew 211

UCL to Mars

 

Crewmembers:

Dr. Carl-Henrik Dahlqvist
Simon Collignon
Julien Amalaberque
Eléonore Lieffrig
Nathan Pechon
Chloé Peduzzi
Benjamin Flasse, Maxime Bernard

 

Scientific Program           

 Cubelanders swarm (Carl-Henrik Dahlqvist)

Mars presents a dynamical environment that cannot be fully described by measures taken by a small number of probes. In order to get a more comprehensive view of Mars climate evolution, we proposed to rely on miniaturized landers, called CubeLanders that could be deployed on large strand of Mars surface via drones. Those landers would include several scientific instruments to characterize the environment and provide new insights into its evolution. In contrast with CubeSats which could deploy large solar panels and antennas, CubeLanders have a single solar panel covering one of their sides. We, therefore, have to limit as much as possible power consumption especially regarding the information transfer. We relied on an ultra-low power RF transceiver for short range communication and on the creation of a lander communication network to transfer the information to the deployment unit using only nearest neighbors.

The proposed concept has been tested during this rotation 211. The CubeLanders structure has been 3D printed while we used the Arduino platform for the electronic system. An algorithm has been developed in order to transmit the information via the CubeLanders network. It has been successfully tested in the Science Dome before a field experiment near the MDRS campus. The deployment of the Cubelanders have been made via drone using a new fully mechanical capture system composed of a fork attached to the drone and a rail system on the sides of each Cubelanders. The field experiment was a success even if the iron rich soil challenged the communication system.

 

Simultaneous location and mapping algorithm using a depth camera (Julien Amalaberque)

On Mars, the lack of a global positioning system and the unreliability of the magnetic north means that other solutions needs to be found to provide positioning and orientation. To do this for our drones, rovers and EVA suits, we decided to use an innovative algorithm called Simultaneous Location And Mapping, also already used with autonomous cars, with a depth camera (Intel RealSense D435i, released earlier this year). The basis used was RTabmap, an open-source implementation of the algorithm maintained by the University of Sherbrooke (Quebec, Canada). It works by creating a cloud of 3D points by extracting features from the image, and then by statistically computing the difference in position from the previous result.

The first step needed to be tweaked in order to allow feature extraction to work on a red, deserted environment which is very different from the classic urban use cases usually described in literature.

Once this was working well, another problem was that computing differences in position between images is an intensive task for a computer. Different image resolutions and frame-per-second settings had to be thoroughly tested to guarantee a reliable service. As a conclusion, the algorithm and the camera now work very well both inside the station and outside in the field. Its positioning ability can be used to automate the movements any kind of unmanned vehicle or as a tool for astronauts.

 

Study of Brownian motion of colloidale particles (Eléonore Lieffrig)

The Brownian motion of colloidal particles is the motion of tiny particles in a fluid at rest. Several experiences regarding to that field are currently running in the International Space Station, which offers the unique property of microgravity. The interest in studying the behavior of colloidal particles is that it finds applications in sectors such as environmental sciences, petrochemistry, chemistry and so on, including daily life. For example, we could be able to create a kind of plastics with better possibilities of recycling, or, a bit funnier, a vinaigrette that we would never have to shake for the components to be blended.

We first built hermetic enclosures containing colloidal particles in water. The chosen colloids had the property to absorb light at 540 nm et reemit it at 560 nm. Therefore, a fluorescence microscopy technology allowed us to observe the reemitted light by placing a camera on the trajectory of the beam. That way, we were able to get the course of many particles on camera and then track them one by one to verify certain properties we were expecting. For example, the motion of the colloids is independent with regards to gravity and the position distribution around the initial point is a gaussian curve.

Regarding the Musk observatory, the sun was very calm during our rotation, but we could observe little prominences on SOL 3. It was such a great opportunity to use this telescope.

 

Muon telescope (Maxime Bernard)

This project is based on the upgrading of a compact telescope based on small and gastight Glass Resistive Gas Chambers (“minigRPC”) build last year by Sophie Wuyckens and is aimed at performing a feasibility study of possible research on Mars geology. The first part of the project will be an improvement of the software used to to collect and analyse the data. The second part will be the eventual refinements we could perform on different parts of the detector to make sure the data we get are the most reliable possible. The third part will consist of the collection of in-field data at the MDRS, and its analysis. The goal will then be to make a study of the muon flux generated by interactions of primary cosmic rays and, if time allows to proceed to a radiography or tomography (3D) of the landscape (mountains, hills, etc.) of the Utah desert with “muography”. This technique is very interesting for planets exploration. For instance, we could radiograph Mars and characterize its interior and tell about the planet evolutionary state and history as well as even finding some places geologically well-adapted places for future colony implantation.

The idea of this year experiment was to compare the data I acquired right before coming to Mars with a brand new gaz mix in order to see if I could see a difference in the Muon count and therefore establish the efficiency of each detector to compare them and see if any modification were to be planed. Unfortunately, it appeared a problem occurred with the gaz mixed as I had way less Muons than expected. Despite a lot of effort to find the source of the problem, I could not find one.
It led me to the fact that it must be the gaz mix that was not efficient enough.

 

Martian constitution (Nathan Pechon)

Our research consisted in the drafting of a Martian constitution. As of today, no rules or legislation apply to Mars. However, law is necessary to organize the human society, as Martian missions are going to grow in scope.

We drafted it together with the crew because a text of such importance needs to gather all different opinions in order to be as democratic as possible. Nevertheless, Nathan played a central role in it. His project consisted in writing articles and submitting them to the crew for a vote. Of course, he took into consideration the crew’s opinions and he was very thankful for every idea coming from them.

Finally, we adopted 20 articles which are applicable on Mars. The Crew was very enthusiastic about debating them.

 

Geolocation with UWB antennas (Simon Collignon)

Here on Earth, GPS technology brought various tools to our society in a wide tech area. Up there on Mars, it might be as useful to implement GPS-like devices and keeping track of what’s going on in our new Martian civilization. Nowadays, there are different geolocation technologies for different purposes. In regard of the relatively small size of our facilities and the precise experiments undertaken, the most relevant setup is the one which maximize accuracy at the expense of the detection range. Using this configuration, we will be able to monitor near EVA, conducted by our astronauts and rovers.

The system required to meet those specifications is based on the emerging UWB (Ultra Wide Band) technology, brought by the IoT field. It will help us to develop an accurate geolocation system capable of tracking multiple devices of interest on our experiment site. In a further stage, the system could be extended for a wider UWB coverage.

 

In conclusion we achieved good results for tracking items in the science dome and in an outdoor environment. We collected a large amount of tracking data which will be further analyzed with more advanced post-processing technics. Moreover, we were able to visualize in real time the location of our tracked item during our experiments.

 

Sleep study (Benjamin Flasse)

A correct and regular sleep is essential for the recuperative power of the crew. For a long-term mission, the recuperative power is crucial for the preservation of the reflexes, the cognitive functions and the general health of the members of the crew. The harsh conditions of such a mission which are among others the stress, the confinement, the lack of privacy,  the seclusion and the closeness with the team 24 hours a day, could have a serious impact on the quality of the sleep and of the health of the members of the team.

This is why I analyzed the quality of sleep and the general health condition of the crew, through complete polysomnography (DREAM from MEDATEC), actimetry (E-tact from Bodycap), Critical Flicker Fusion Frequency (B-checkers), neuropsychometric tests (physiopad + MARES) and body parameters analysis (BiodyXpert).

Each morning and each night, each member of the crew went through a quick poll of tests enumerated here above, and 2 crew members were analyzed at night with a DREAM monitoring device. This machine allows to perform a complete polysomnography, they were wearing it every two nights. Since the DREAM analysis will be scored by a doctor in Belgium, I am not able to give any conclusion yet concerning the sleep quality. The other tests will continue in the few days following the mission, but some preliminary observations can be noted.

Firstly, every member of the crew can witness of an increasing fatigue during the mission, even so that naps had to be taken by some members. The weight and the measurements of the crew members does show a loose of body mass during the mission, even though this last one was probably affected by the unusual diet. The percentage of fat mass decreased while the percentage of muscle mass appeared to stay constant. Unsurprisingly, the stress and the brain fatigue appeared to be higher than in normal conditions. Some crew member experienced a water retention a few day after the beginning of the mission. No noticeable change was monitored concerning the cerebral arousal.

 

Spirulina as space food (Chloé Peduzzi)

As water is a limiting factor on Mars, lots of questions related to how to grow food on the Red Planet remain unsolved. On this purpose, current scientific researches focus on developing technologies to grow highly nutritive food requiring small amount of water. One possible option is spirulina! Indeed, those cyanobacteria are highly prospective for astronauts’ alimentation during future martian explorations. Not only can it be taken as a dietary supplement enriched in proteins, but it has also therapeutic properties. In that sense, we propose to establish a spirulina culture during our mission. The experiment will study the effect of space mission conditions on the culture system, including the small amount of space, materials and water available, the monitoring of the system and finally considering alternatives to improve the culture in such conditions.

10 spirulina cultures were prepared in 10 cell culture flasks. An artificial lightening made by white led was placed behind those culture flasks according to 2 different treatments (24h of light/day and 12h of light/day). The spirulina cultures were agitated manually each day. Cells were checked regularly using a microscope at various cultures’ stages. The cultures were observed at magnification 40X, 100X and 400X. Those observations confirmed the spiral shape of the spirulina’s trichomes. Resulting from HCO3 depletion through photosynthesis, the culture pH tended to rise continuously throughout the 2 weeks of simulation. This rise is positively correlated with the photosynthetic efficiency of the spirulina strain in the operational conditions of the experiment. The temperature variations throughout the 2 weeks of simulation were monitored continuously in the Science dome. The optimum temperature for spirulina growth is around 26°C-32°C (79F-90F) and should not exceed 38°C (100F). The contamination of the culture was monitored using axenicity tests in petri dishes. At the end of the 2 weeks of simulation, all spirulina cultures were harvested. Harvest occurred in the morning as temperature is the coolest and the proteins content (%) in the spirulina is the highest at this time of day. The filtration of spirulina cultures was easily accomplished by passing the culture through a PVC and polypropylene screen (40 microns in mesh size), using gravity as the driving force. The harvested spirulina was then washed with distilled water several times. Spirulina was carefully collected with a sterile spatula and stored on filter papers in petri dishes and was dried at 45°C during 5h. Finally, the wet and dry weight were measured for each of the 10 spirulina cultures. Further analyses will enable us to measure the protein content of the harvested spirulina.

 

Enhancing leguminous plant nutrition via mycorrhiza symbiosis in a Martian simulated environment ( Chloé Peduzzi)

As a one-way trip to Mars is estimated at 6 months at the shortest, a round-trip mission to the Red planet could last years. Therefore, setting up technologies to grow food in complete autonomy seems crucial. One main issue remains enhancing plant nutrition and increasing their resistance to stress and drought.

To elucidate that point, we propose to study beneficial mycorrhizal fungi connecting with plant roots and forming a network of fungal fibres, bringing water and nutrients to the plant. They support the plant for its entire life and improve yield. On one hand, we will study how this network develops in a Martian simulated soil. On the other hand, we will measure the effectiveness of the symbiosis with a leguminous plant in such conditions. Through this research, we aim to expand scientific knowledges on how Martian conditions affect symbiotic relationships between terrestrial organisms.

Seeds (bean + tomato) were soaked into water for 24h. Soil samples were collected in the Utah desert and were sieved. 16 treatments were repeated 4 times and placed into the GreenHab. The treatments were the followings: Irrigation (dry – Wet), Treatment (control – mycorrhiza – hydrogel – mycorrhiza + hydrogel) and Soil (50% Martian soil + 50% Compost – Compost). This part lasted 10 days. Then plants were harvested. Several crucial measures were taken. Further analyses with the harvested plants will enable us to quantify the mycorrhizal colonisation of the roots.

Treatment : Treatment Soil : Humidity
N°1 Control 50% Mars +

50% Compost

Humid
N°2 Control 50% Mars +

50% Compost

Dry
N°3 Control Compost Humid
N°4 Control Compost Dry
N°5 Mycorrhize 50% Mars +

50% Compost

Humid
N°6 Mycorrhize 50% Mars +

50% Compost

Dry
N°7 Mycorrhize Compost Humid
N°8 Mycorrhize Compost Dry
N°9 Hydrogel 50% Mars +

50% Compost

Humid
N°10 Hydrogel 50% Mars +

50% Compost

Dry
N°11 Hydrogel Compost Humid
N°12 Hydrogel Compost Dry
N°13 Mycorrhize + Hydrogel 50% Mars +

50% Compost

Humid
N°14 Mycorrhize + Hydrogel 50% Mars +

50% Compost

Dry
N°15 Mycorrhize + Hydrogel Compost Humid
N°16 Mycorrhize + Hydrogel Compost Dry

Table 1: 16 treatments testing Mycorrhiza-Leguminous plant symbiosis in martian condition

 

Mission Overview

Crew 211 is the 9th crew of the UCL to Mars project. UCL to Mars is a non-profit organization that sends researchers and students from the Université de Louvain to the Mars Desert Research Station. The objective of UCL to Mars is twofold, organize annual research stay at the MDRS and promote science to a younger audience through publication in the press and on social media as well as conferences in universities and schools. Both objectives have been fulfilled during this rotation 211, as we have had the opportunity to welcome schoolchildren on the 24th of April and a PBS crew on the 29th of April to increase awareness of the MDRS and its mission and more broadly to promote Science.  Beyond these visits, we conducted successfully nine scientific experiments in various fields of Sciences to answer concrete problems that future space travelers may encounter. Thanks to the variety of profiles we had in our team this year, we adopted an interdisciplinary approach to many problems, bringing added values for several experiments.

Final Mission Summary – Crew 210

Mission Summary Report

Mars Desert Research Station Crew 210

Martian Biology

Crewmembers: Dr. Shannon Rupert, David Murray, Paul Sokoloff, Samantha McBeth, Mike Irvine

Mission Overview

Crew 210 was an international team made up of scientists and outreach professionals from the United States and Canada, who conducted an assessment of the ecology and botanical diversity of the MDRS Exploration Area from April 13-20, 2019.  This was the first non-simulation mission in a planned multi-year biological research program planned for the station; our overarching goal is to increase the ecological and biological knowledge about this unique Martian analog, and bring it up to the level of geological and planetary science research conducted by previous missions.  The three planned peer-reviewed publications stemming from this year’s research program will provide useful data to future crews focused on astrobiology, as well as important scientific data for local scientific and government agencies.  We also sought to increase awareness of MDRS and its mission through a robust online outreach campaign, including images, social media posts, video content, and interactive livestreams.

Scientific Program           

Ecological Classification of the Exploration Area

To assess the different ecosystems within the station area, our team conducted vegetation transect and quadrat surveys at four locations (Copernicus Valley, Hab Ridge, and two sites along Cactus Road).  At each location we plotted three 10-meter transects and surveyed five 1-meter-square quadrats along each transect in a zig-zag pattern.

For each transect we recorded GPS coordinates at the start and end, the air and soil temperature at the center of the transect, measured the height of the tallest plant on the line, and took a central sample for soil moisture, pH, and salinity. Within each of the five quadrats, we estimated percent cover of vascular plants, and named the top three species (by abundance) inside the square-meter.

By analysing the physical characteristics of the soil samples taken from our transects, we hope to discover the factors driving plant diversity (or the lack thereof) in the quadrats, and by extension, the different ecological areas around MDRS.

Plant Sampling

Continuing work started by crew 143 in 2014, our team sampled new vascular plant and lichen specimens within the MDRS Exploration Area to better continue building a floristic baseline for the station. By pressing plant specimens between cardboard and drying them out, the team is left with a flat plant that, of stored correctly, will last for hundreds of years.  The 64 new plant samples collected during this mission, accompanied by a label indicating the location and date of collection, will serve as the proof that these plants were found growing at a specific place and time. Once identified to species, these plants will make up the backbone of our first planned publication from this program.

Outreach Program

Our outreach program took advantage of the extensive network of Live It (liveit.earth) to educate the public on our mission and MDRS.

During one week of outreach the MDRS210 and Live It reached:

  • 150+ classrooms during 2 livestreamed presentations in the field, roughly 3,000 students from K-12 participated. These presentations were recorded and continue to climb in viewership.
  • 36 posts on Twitter with 10,000+ impressions
  • 30+ posts on Facebook with 1,000+ interactions
  • 22% increase in likes on the MDRS Facebook page

A combination of photo, video, 360 photo/video capture and livestreams were used to create content that was shared over Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Live It and Discover the Universe’s networks.

We conducted an “Ask A Martian Anything” on Reddit, where we responded to about 50 questions (over 400 interactions on the website).

Looking Ahead

Our immediate plans are to publish the ecological and plant data in peer-reviewed journals, and to continue our outreach efforts using photos and videos taken on this mission.  We are currently putting together a plan for future biological survey missions at MDRS, branching out into new groups including reptiles, birds, mammals, mosses, and microbial life.

 

 

 

Mission Summary – Crew 208

Crew 208 Medical Makers – Mission Summary

Commander: Julielynn Wong
Executive Officer: Dean Jin
Health & Safety Officer: David Kim
Engineer & Astronomer: Amanda Manget
GreenHab Officer & Journalist: Erika Rydberg

 

Medical Makers is a global community of innovators, patients, and healthcare providers who use low-cost technologies to make sustainable solutions to save lives, time, and money.  Medical Makers host Medical Make-A-Thons worldwide to crowdsource low-cost, high-quality, life-changing 3D printable solutions for 3D4MD’s digital library.

Our MDRS mission dates were from March 28, 2019 to April 7, 2019. We completed a total of 7 EVAs.

                  

Crew 208 Medical Makers Projects at MDRS

Project #1: 3D printing drone maps of MDRS and the surrounding Mars-like terrain

Crew 208 Medical Makers XO and GHO processed Crew 207 Medical Makers drone maps and 3D printed contour scale models of MDRS. Two 3D printed MDRS elevation models will be provided to the Mars Society.

 

Project #2: Testing a new drone controller designed by a retired NASA astronaut, physician, explorer, pilot, and inventor

Crew 208 Medical Makers compared the performance of a traditional and new drone controller during flight tests. Post-flight surveys were completed and qualitative feedback was obtained.

 

Project #3: Evaluating a low-cost, high-fidelity, 3D printed thoracentesis trainer designed to allow Crew Medical Officers, their back-ups, and healthcare professionals to attain and maintain life-saving surgical skills to serve astronauts on long space missions and the 5 billion people who lack access to safe, timely, and affordable surgical care

Five crew members used a low-cost, high-fidelity thoracentesis trainer 3D printed on-site to acquire or maintain life-saving procedural skills to decompress a tension pneumothorax on a simulated patient. Three performance metrics were measured; performance score, procedure time and learner’s confidence.  Crew 208 Medical Makers data has been compiled for analysis and manuscript preparation.

 

Project #4: Demonstrating the technical feasibility of bike-powered 3D printing by six Martian analogue astronauts — who are following the International Space Station cycling ergometer schedule — to empower the 1 billion people without access to electricity to use portable 3D printing technologies and biodegradable plastic filament

Crew 208 Medical Makers showed that a renewable, green energy source can power a 3D printer to use biodegradable plastic to make customized medical devices that were previously printed on the ISS. Five crew members cycled for 1 hour per day for a total of 2 days per crew member on a bicycle to charge a battery that was used to power the 3D4MD 3D printing system.  Crew 208 Medical Makers used this bike-powered battery to 3D print two customized mallet finger splints out of food-safe, biodegradable plastic. Crew 208 Medical Makers data has been compiled for analysis and manuscript preparation.

 

Project #5: Testing a wearable sensor that monitors wear time for 3D printed prosthetic hands to reduce the risk of complications

Crew 208 Medical Makers provided feedback on a wearable sensor prototype for 3D printed prosthetic hands.

 

Project #6: 3D printing essential items on demand locally to save lives, time and money for the 3.75 billion people who live in remote or rural areas, the 136 million people who require humanitarian aid, and astronauts on long space missions

Crew 208 Medical Makers 3D printed the following 3D4MD catalog items;

  1. A parameterizable funnel for the Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders Green Catalog and MDRS Greenhab
  2. Toy ambulances requested by Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders that are made out of biodegradable plastic that changes colour in sunlight or with temperature

 

Project #7: 3D printing low-cost, high-quality medical devices for healthcare providers who serve the 3.75 billion people who live in remote or rural areas and astronauts on long space missions

Crew 208 Medical Makers 3D printed the following 3D4MD catalog items;

  1. A ninja star two-point discriminator that meets Health Canada guidelines to diagnose and treat an injured astronaut on a long space mission
  2. An IV line protector requested by Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders
  3. A sexual and reproductive education model to promote HPV vaccination rates and reduce the risk of cervical cancer

 

Project #8: Testing a reusable and simple 3D printable ostomy system for stoma patients who cannot afford disposable ostomy appliances, a growing global industry that costs healthcare systems $2.5 billion a year

Crew 208 Medical Makers 3D printed two components of this ostomy system on-site at MDRS.

 

Project #9: Using reusable, personalized 3D printed straws made out of food-safe biodegradable plastic to conserve water at MDRS and reduce the amount of plastic waste in landfills and oceans

All five crew members were using 3D printed colored straws to identify their personal cups for re-use all day to conserve our water resources at MDRS.

 

Acknowledgements

Crew 208 Medical Makers is grateful for the financial support of Dr. Robert Milkovich and Mrs. Marijana Milkovich, Ron Rivkind at Filaments.ca, and Schulich Leader Scholarships, Canada’s most coveted undergraduate STEM scholarships.  Our MDRS projects are also made possible thanks to Atila Meszaros, David Mateus, and Shannon Rupert at the Mars Desert Research Station, Dr. Scott Parazynski and George Guerrero at Fluidity Technologies Inc., Jade Bilkey, Crew 207 Medical Makers, and members of the Medical Makers YGK, YHM, YKF, YMM, YVR, YYT and YYZ Chapters.

Mission Summary – Crew 207

Crew 207 Medical Makers  – Mission Summary

Commander: Julielynn Wong
Executive Officer: Dean Jin
Health & Safety Officer: Kevin Ho
Scientist: Tiffany Ni
Engineer & Astronomer: Tom Baldwin
GreenHab Officer & Journalist: Diane Rothberg

 

Medical Makers is a global community of innovators, patients, and healthcare providers who use low-cost technologies to make sustainable solutions to save lives, time, and money.  Medical Makers host Medical Make-A-Thons worldwide to crowdsource low-cost, high-quality, life-changing 3D printable solutions for 3D4MD’s digital library.

Our MDRS mission dates were from March 16, 2019 to March 27, 2019. We completed a total of 7 EVAs.

         

Crew 207 Medical Makers Projects at MDRS

 

Project #1: Printing open-source designs of lower-cost labware to provide more accessible STEM learning opportunities for the 90% of the world’s population who do not have a university education

Crew 207 Medical Makers Scientist and HSO 3D printed 17 labware items and tested their functionality in the MDRS Science Dome. Many of these print files were prepared by 34 participants of the inaugural MMYMM Medical Make-A-Thon hosted at Keyano College in Fort McMurray, Alberta on March 10, 2019.

On March 22, Crew 207 Medical Makers experienced a brief power interruption at MDRS while 3D printing a slide drying rack out of biodegradable plastic.  Fortunately, our 3D printing system was able to continue and finish printing this functional item after power was restored.

 

Project #2: Demonstrating the technical feasibility of bike-powered 3D printing by six Martian analogue astronauts — who are following the International Space Station cycling ergometer schedule — to empower the 1 billion people without access to electricity to use portable 3D printing technologies and biodegradable plastic filament

Crew 207 Medical Makers showed that a renewable, green energy source can power a 3D printer to use biodegradable plastic to make an ISS medical inventory item, a customized medical device that was previously printed on the ISS, and a spare part for a self-replicating replicator on-site during a Mars analogue mission.

Six crew members cycled for 1 hour per day for a total of 2 days per crew member on a bicycle to charge a battery that was used to power the 3D4MD 3D printing system.  Crew 207 Medical Makers used this bike-powered battery to 3D print a tongue depressor and customized mallet finger splint out of food-safe, biodegradable plastic and a replacement knob for the 3D printer’s LCD out of recyclable, biodegradable plastic.

Crew 207 Medical Makers data has been compiled and been transmitted home for analysis and manuscript preparation.  Data collection will continue with Crew 208 Medical Makers.

 

Project #3: Identifying essential items that can be 3D printed on demand locally to save lives, time and money for the 3.75 billion people who live in remote or rural areas, the 136 million people who require humanitarian aid, and astronauts on long space missions

Crew 207 Medical Makers identified 30 items that would be useful to 3D print at MDRS. These items will be distributed as design challenges to Crew 208 Medical Makers, Medical Make-A-Thon participants and 250+ Medical Makers in 10 countries.

Crew 207 Medical Makers 3D printed the following items on demand locally at MDRS:

  1. Coat hanger
  2. Bag clip
  3. Stackable storage bin
  4. Funnels (3 sizes)
  5. Soil sieves (2 sizes)

Crew 207 Medical Makers Journalist, Diane Rothberg, observed that it would be helpful to use a clip to re-seal our opened bags containing flour and brown sugar.  On March 20, Crew 207 Medical Makers Commander, Dr. Julielynn Wong, reached out to members of the Medical Makers YHM Chapter who have been re-designing and testing a watertight, reusable, 3D printed pouch clamp for stoma patients.  They immediately uploaded their print files to the Medical Makers shared drive and Crew 207 Medical Makers was able to 3D print and use their design to re-seal a food bag at MDRS on the same day.

On March 23, Crew 207 Medical Makers Scientist, Tiffany Ni, used an open-source design and freeware to create and 3D print customized funnels matching the dimensions of 3 different funnels found in the Science Dome at MDRS. By creating 3D printable designs of useful items at MDRS, Medical Makers can add files to 3D4MD’s digital archive to benefit remote and low-resource communities in need.

Crew 207 Medical Makers also 3D printed the following 3D4MD catalog items out of biodegradable, washable plastic:

  1. High-quality, safe, UNICEF early childhood education kit items for children caught in conflict zones or humanitarian emergencies
  2. Low-cost, high-quality, 3D printable United Nations Comprehensive Sexuality Education Curriculum teaching models for voluntary medical male circumcision, a procedure that has been shown to reduce HIV transmission by 60% in high-risk areas
  3. A special Mars edition of “Lego-style” Braille Bricks to help educate the 1 billion children and adults who are visually impaired
  4. Medical supplies that meet FDA and Health Canada guidelines to diagnose and treat an ill or injured astronaut on a long space mission
  5. Low-cost and high-quality spare parts and accessories for our self-replicating “Star Trek Replicator”

 

Project #4: Using reusable, personalized 3D printed straws made out of food-safe biodegradable plastic to conserve water at MDRS and reduce the amount of plastic waste in landfills and oceans

Crew 207 Medical Makers observed that each individual crew member was using multiple cups per day because the cups provided at MDRS are identical in design and color. This meant that the crew had to wash extra cups every day. This led to an increased consumption of water which is a limited and valuable resource at MDRS. By March 21, all six crew members were using 3D printed colored straws to identify their personal cups for re-use all day. This helped conserve our water resources at MDRS.

 

Project #5: Testing a low-cost, high-fidelity, 3D printed thoracentesis trainer designed to allow healthcare trainees and professionals to attain and maintain life-saving surgical skills to serve the 5 billion people who lack access to safe, timely, and affordable surgical care

Five crew members with no prior surgical training used a porcine and 3D printed thoracentesis trainer to acquire life-saving procedural skills to decompress a tension pneumothorax on a simulated patient. Three performance metrics were measured; performance score, procedure time and learner’s confidence. Data collection will continue with Crew 208 Medical Makers.

Three out of seven components of 3D4MD’s thoracentesis trainer were successfully 3D printed at MDRS during the Crew 207 Medical Makers mission.  The remaining four components will be 3D printed during the Crew 208 Medical Makers mission.

 

Project #6: Piloting drones to survey and print a 3D map of MDRS and the surrounding Mars-like terrain

Crew 207 Medical Makers Part 107 pilots used a camera drone to complete four pre-programmed drone mapping flights of MDRS and the surrounding region. Map processing and 3D printing will continue with Crew 208 Medical Makers.

 

Project #7: Testing a new drone controller designed by a retired NASA astronaut, physician, explorer, pilot, and inventor

Crew 207 Medical Makers flew a camera drone to conduct an outdoor inspection of the MDRS Habitat roof during a simulated emergency. Four novice drone pilots compared the performance of a traditional and new drone controller when flying in a square pattern (60 feet for each side) at an altitude of 20 feet. Post-flight surveys were completed and qualitative feedback was obtained. Preliminary feedback has been submitted to the drone controller manufacturer. More flight testing is planned for Crew 208 Medical Makers.

 

Acknowledgements

Crew 207 Medical Makers is grateful for the financial support of Dr. Robert Milkovich and Mrs. Marijana Milkovich, the University of Toronto Collaborative Specialization in Resuscitation Sciences – Institute of Medical Sciences Travel Award, Ron Rivkind at Filaments.ca, and Schulich Leader Scholarships, Canada’s most coveted undergraduate STEM scholarships.  Our MDRS projects were also made possible thanks to Atila Meszaros, David Mateus, and Shannon Rupert at the Mars Desert Research Station, Dean Vincella Thompson at Keyano College, Marius Kintel at OpenSCAD, Dr. Scott Parazynski and George Guerrero at Fluidity Technologies Inc., Jack McCandless, Jade Bilkey, Crew 208 Medical Makers, and members of the Medical Makers YGK, YHM, YKF, YMM, YVR, YYT and YYZ Chapters.

Final Mission Summary – Crew 205

INTERNATIONAL EMERGING SPACE LEADERS (IESL) CREW

MDRS CREW 205

Crew 205 Members:

  • Commander: Natalia Larrea (Spain)
  • Executive Officer: David Masaitis (USA)
  • Health and Safety Officer: Daniel Robson (UK)
  • GreenHab Officer: Nathan Hadland (USA)
  • Crew Engineer: Veónica Triviño (Spain)
  • Crew Astronomer: Ghanim Alotaibi (Kuwait)
  • Crew Journalist: Maria Grülich (Germany)
  • Communications Officer: Hannah Blackburn (USA)

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Mission Overview

Establishing a human presence on Mars is increasingly seen by space agencies and private organizations as the horizon frontier in human space exploration. These long-duration mission impose a high degree of technological, operational, physical and psychological challenges. Mars analog habitats, such as the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) in Utah (U.S.) are established to conduct field experiments, test new hardware, new operational concepts and study the social and crew teamwork dynamics in support to these future manned missions to the Red Planet. The International Emerging Space Leaders (IESLs) Crew (or MDRS Crew 205) was composed of eight international young professionals and students, who together undertook a Mars analog mission from February 9th to 24th at the MDRS. The IESL’s Crew was an interdisciplinary team including members from Kuwait, Spain, Germany, the U.K. and the U.S. During the two-week rotation, the crew conducted multiple research projects in support of future analog and space manned missions. A key goal of the IESL crew was to identify key aspects for successful leadership in future space missions. As a case study, the crew rotated command roles during the mission, evaluating each other’s leadership performance during the mission. The team conducted multiple additional research projects relevant to space exploration in areas such as in-situ resource utilization, astronomy, geology, EVA optimization, and science outreach. This mission aimed at contributing to a better understanding of the requirements, benefits and challenges of international teams in future manned missions.

Partners

The IESLs Crew was supported by several partners around the world including the Florida Institute of Technology and the European Space Agency’s EuroMoonMars program.  Moreover, outreach programs are going on using the following networks:  Pi Lambda Phi fraternity (USA), Astrobiological Research and Education Society (USA), Space School UK, UKSEDS, UK National Space Center, University of Leicester (UK), Space Generation Advisory Council, The Scouting Movement, University of Munich (Germany), ILEWG and ESTEC (Netherlands).

EFFECTIVE LEADERSHIP AND TEAMWORK

 

A key goal of the MDRS IESL crew was to develop the leadership and teamwork skills of all crew members. As a case study imposed by the Mars Society, all crew members rotated roles during the mission (i.e., all crew members acted as commander and XO at least for a day). This project had a twofold objective: strengthen crew members’ leadership and teamwork skills, and identify key aspects for successful leadership and teamwork in future analog and space missions.

 

The project used surveys as primary research tools to evaluate leadership and teamwork performance during the mission (e.g.: communication, effective planning, decision making, effect of diversity, etc.) and key lessons learned. The surveys were built on existing open literature[1]. The study included four main phases:

  1. Pre- Mission Survey: self-assessment of personal leadership skills and expected performance of the crew prior to the mission.
  2. Mission survey: daily surveys filled by all crew members during the mission including a self-assessment survey (for commanders and XOs) and peer assessment surveys.
  3. Debriefing: evaluation of the team’s performance, challenges faced, areas for improvement, etc.
  4. Results Consolidation and Analysis: consolidation of the survey results and analysis.

 

The data derived from the study will be combined and analyzed after the mission. The results will be summarized in a white paper to be submitted to the Mars Society.

[1] Leadership Competency Self-Assessment Questionnaire”, Western University (2016)

 

 

 

FOOD PRODUCTION IN REGOLITH TO SUPPORT IN-SITU RESOURCE UTILIZATION (ISRU)

In situ resource utilization (ISRU) strategies on Mars include the use of local regolith for plant growth. Regolith samples collected on the surface of Mars will not be uniform and consequently must be benchtop tested to determine their composition and properties by astronauts on Mars before being used for large scale food production. The purpose of this study was to investigate the viability of regolith collected around MDRS to support the growth of the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana.

  1. thaliana was sterilized with bleach and ethanol and germinated on agar. After three days, the seedlings were transferred into regolith samples collected on EVA in halved 50 mL conical tubes using a nutrient agar media plug. The samples were subsequently watered using Hoagland’s #2 hydroponic nutrient supplement. Several samples dried out within several hours of transfer. The experiments that died in the first trial were restarted using the same method as above, using more care to pack the regolith around the plug to prevent dehydration. The pH of the regolith was measured using ASTM protocol D4972. The lower pH solutions appear to have performed the worst, with organisms dying within a few days of the beginning of the experiment.

Samples 2 and 3 emerged as the more viable substrates to support the growth of A. thaliana. Sample 2 is composed of an opaque dark material interspersed with quartz particles and becomes clay-like upon contact with water. Sample 3 is composed of similar particles with a larger mosaic of sand. Although it is not apparently clear from their geological properties, their success as a growth substrate was likely due to their wettability (quantitative ability to retain water), larger average particle size, and relatively neutral pH as compared to the more acidic samples 1, 5, and 6. Drastic variations in pH can cause nutrients provided to the plants using Hoagland’s to precipitate out of solution. To make food production on Mars feasible and sustainable, baseline tests like these are necessary in order to determine the suitability of substrates.

 

SAMPLE ~PH (DI WATER) ~PH CACL2 AVERAGE STD DEV RESTARTED? TRIALS ALIVE?
1 6.5 5.8 6.15 0.49 Y 3
2 7.5 7.5 7.5 0.00 N 3
3 8 8.2 8.1 0.14 N 3
4 8 8.5 8.25 0.35 Y 1
5 6 6.5 6.25 0.35 Y 1
6 6 6 6 0 Y 2

 

ASTRONOMICAL OBSERVATIONS OF VARIABLE STARS AND ASTROPHOTOGRAPHY

 

The primary goal of the astronomy project was to observe 3 different variable stars and perform photometry on them. The stars were selected from the American Association of Variable Stars Association Notices numbers 632 and 645. Their apparent magnitude was found to be suitable for the MDRS-14 observatory. The following table shows more information about the selected targets:

 

 

STAR NAME RE DEC V MAG VISIBILITY TIME
ASASSN-V J081823.00-111138.9 08 18 23.00 -11 11 38.9 12.5 21:00 – 1:30
NSVS J1444107-074451 14 44 10.68 -07 44 49.4 13.1 2:30 – 5:00
SY Mon 6 37 31.34 -01:23:43.0 7.0 – 14.6 20:00 – 1:00

 

In addition to the above planned targets and the proposed photometry work, it was planned to capture astrophotography images using the MDRS – WF observatory. The main challenge was the weather conditions with the second week fully or partially cloudy. Three targets were requested for observation, and an image for one target was taken by the MDRS-14 observatory. The following table summarizes the reports and observations submitted:

 

DATE OF REQUEST TARGET REQUESTED IMAGE TAKEN DURING ROTATION
10 Feb 2019 SY MON Yes
12 Feb 2019 ASASSN-V J081823.00-111138.9 No
18 Feb 2019 Orion Nebula No

 

 

As shown in the table above, the only completed observation request was for SY MON. 4 photometry measurements were performed for SY MON as per the following table. The Magnitude Value of 14.132 was submitted for the AAVSO website.

 

 

 

MAG VALUE COMP STARS LABELS CHECK STAR LABEL ERROR COMMENT
14.147 93 111 122 134 148 No Check Stars were used 0.01568 This measurement was repeated because of no check star was used, CCD setting was wrong and there are better ways to select comp stars.
13.918 140 143 132 97 Check star used indicates bad measurement or check star itself was saturated Measurement repeated
14.118 140 143 132 No check star because this is manual calculation It was found that Comp 97 positioned outside the straight line of the curve, thus it was decided to exclude it.
14.132 140 143 132 122 0.0185 Data was submitted to AAVSO

 

 

MAKING FUTURE EVAs SAFER AND MORE EFFICIENT

Project 1: EVA Navigation

Drone for lighthouse: The drone flew stably at altitudes below 6m, while carrying neon tape weighted with washers. Unfortunately, the neon tape acted as a kite and pulled the drone off-course. An alternate source of visibility could be used for this proof of concept to be more viable. In tests performed inside MDRS, the drone lifted a sizeable glow stick. If a stronger drone with a brighter, heavier glow stick attachment system could be flown and survive higher winds stably, then the method could be implemented successfully.

 

Drone for pre-scouting:   The drone flew successfully at altitudes below 10m on flat areas near MDRS and on top of Kissing Camel Ridge East. Photos were captured over target areas of an appreciable area better than could be visualized by a human on the ground or by satellites. These photos could be uploaded to a laptop in the field. Use of a scale marker (3 m of neon tape) allows the images to be used for accurate mapping. However, the ground often appeared too bright, meaning smaller features were hard to resolve. With an improved camera and a drone capable of flying stably to higher altitudes, this could be a viable tool for mapping landscapes around an EVA crew.

 

Laser Rangefinder: The laser rangefinder was used in the field and tagged distant and difficult to outline objects such as cliffs, ridges and the MDRS base. However due to the dimensions of the EVA helmet visor, it was difficult to see through the viewfinder. If the device could be mechanically incorporated into or onto the helmet visor with a more ergonomic operating procedure, then the tool could be a useful planetary exploration tool.

 

 

 

Project 2: EVA Optimization

Analysis of the first few EVAs conducted by crew 205 during their rotation at MDRS showed that the success of an extravehicular activity (EVA) depends highly on both the EVA crew and Support crew being aware of planned objectives and intended routes. This means that both parties should conduct EVA planning together, in order to understand what should be accomplished and what hazards could impact EVA outcomes. Pre-and-post-EVA checklists and SOPs were created to allow crews going on EVA to expose deficiencies in both the planning and execution. This allows team members to improve the process of preparing for an EVA, leading to more effective and safe EVAs. The Post-EVA Debrief checklist in particular will (when utilized by successive crews of planetary analog sites) expose complacency and help leaders to conclude which issues are impeding objectives from being accomplished.

 

DEVELOPING GUIDELINES AND STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURES (SOPs)

Conducting a mission at MDRS requires adequate and effective planning and execution of all steps in the mission. During their rotation in February of 2019, Crew 205 developed a series of procedures and checklists to improve crew efficacy, and generate more operational continuity from future crews. This began from the moment Crew 205 conducted handover training with Crew 204, and concluded with crew revisions after the cessation of extravehicular activities (EVAs). These procedures focused primarily on points of performance for EVAs, unique tasks for Crew Engineers, Health & Safety Officers (HSOs), and element leaders, and critical tasks for crew members who are supporting EVA operations from the Habitat campus. These comprehensive checklists and procedures carefully outline specific tasks regarding Pre-and-Post-EVA checks for leaders and support teams, an HSO Medical Quick Reference Card, an Engineering and Maintenance task sheet, and rotating module inventories.

 

 

 

 

 

OUTREACH ACTIVITIES

 

The focus of our outreach project is to Inform, inspire and Involve. We Inform using videos explaining information about the life and MDRS and about Mars using a small puppet called “Gus”. Gus is featured as each crew member who are explaining their tasks and research that they are conducting. The videos are short and kids friendly, easy to understand and will be shared on YouTube and Facebook.

A question and answer session was organized on Facebook to involve all followers in the mission.  We Inspire as we gave kids the ability to send us their pictures and we did a photo on EVAs. The crew members took several outreach pictures and daily updates were posted on social media platforms.

Furthermore, crew members will go back to their institutions to give talks about their experience in MDRS. We Involve everyone sharing all our pictures and videos to make them available for the public. We used several networks that are listed at the beginning of this mission summary.

Crew members took pictures and videos throughout the mission. The best photos were sent to our social media channels. Videos for the Youtube channel were recorded throughout the. The talks and visits to high schools and universities will be done when we return from Mars.

 

Crew 204 Mission Summary – February 9th

Nix Olympica – Crew 204

presents…

“Journey to Mars”

Authors :

Avishek Ghosh (Commander)

Pranit Patil (XO & Greenhab Officer)

Kunal Naik (Crew Engineer)

Sonal Baberwal (HSO & Crew Journalist)

Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS)

08.02.2019

Acknowledgement:

We express our sincere gratitude to the delegates of MDRS foundation, Dr Robert Zubrin, Dr. Shannon Rupert & Carie Fay for providing us this opportunity to participate in this simulation mission. We convey our sincere thanks to the associates of MDRS looking after various areas. We sincerely thank the mission support and CapCom for their continuous support and cooperation to make our simulation better by educating us to maintain the right protocol. We want to thank Mr. Atila and Mr. David for their friendly and comforting nature with all support. Finally, we would like to thank our friends and supporters without whom this mission would have not been possible.

“The plants, the lab,

The rovers, the Hab.

The love, the care,

The friendship we share.

The food to cook,

The windows we look.

The signing in and signing off,

The mission support and Cap Com.

The EVAs we risked,

Yes, everything will be missed!”

~ Sonal Baberwal.

Introduction:

Reaching Mars was one of humanity’s most ambitious undertaking. The direct result of the decades-long global space race and the sheer audacity of humans to take exploration to the fastest reaches of our solar system. But make no mistake, this is no easy journey! The trip to Mars is as dangerous and challenging as anything we have ever tried. The journey alone seems extremely difficult, given the hostile environment of space. Nevertheless, if we manage to reach Mars (and not die on impact), it is empirical that if extremely difficult to survive the cold red planet! MDRS has bestowed a great opportunity for us, an all Indian crew this time, to drain our fears and it has given us insight beyond the horizon. It has given us a short glimpse, of how it would really be to live on Mars. The team – Crew 204 is a group of a super enthusiastic aspiring astronaut, who is determined to contribute their part towards the isolation program at MDRS. It becomes difficult at times to be all alone in isolation, but the Crew-204 is determined to conduct their research, no matter what the situation be. Our participation in MDRS will allow us to establish a research framework to continue our collaborative research activities for a long-term space exploration in near future. This inquisitiveness to encounter a thrilling environment would be possible to find at Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS).

The Crew 204 is a group of astronaut aspirants committed towards contributing for ongoing researches that are conducted under isolation during MDRS missions. Crew 204 is an organized team which outlines the framework to understand the necessity of performing scientific and technical experiments in isolation. We have realized how important it is to expand the boundary of exploration with an intercultural and interdisciplinary aspect. Our participation in MDRS will allow us to establish a research framework to continue our collaborative research activities for a long-term space exploration in near future.

Mission Objectives:

When it comes to colonizing Mars, it should be taken into account that the environment on the red planet is extremely hostile. Crew-204 is simulating a real-life environment on how life would be on Mars. We are made to experience a real-life adventure through analog. Considering the facts of possible challenges to survive in the extreme environment on MARS, the Crew 204 is paving their way to pursue a real-life analog simulation under isolated environment. We are instigated to experience a real-life adventure through analog simulation while resembling an extreme environment and living in isolation with crewmates in surroundings similar to the planet MARS.

This mission is designed to gain knowledge and practical experience working with crewmates with diverse background with intercultural and international aspects. This mission would also allow us gaining insight scenarios of an astronaut program and selection process for the long-duration space mission. With the recent technological advancements and scientific knowledge base, it is very important to perform some sophisticated assessment to find another frontier to explore and develop the strategic methodology, which could be beneficial to develop effective team compositions and technologies for the long-duration space mission. All this is just a small step towards the new adventure, that will take us, even deeper into the stars above!

EVA Summary:

In any mission, the ‘Extra-Vehicular Activity’ is considered as a fundamental element. However, the first Sol started with an invitation from a great explorer and admirer of nature Mr. Jad Davenport. It was another wonderful opportunity to exhibit the MDRS crew preparation for the simulation. Crew 204 feels honored to participate in a session invited by such personnel. Followed by this, the Crew 204 had performed total 10 EVA’s for general exploration, collecting soil samples while capturing some beautiful moments, landscapes and mesmerizing beauty of the nature.

Our Research:

Our Research at MDRS aimed:

  1. Green Hab
  2. Science behind 3D printing
  3. Experimental GreenHab
  4. Design and development of Martian Rover for Lava tube exploration

Research Summary:

  1. GreenHab (Pranit Patil):

No Astronaut launches for space with their fingers crossed. That’s NOT how we deal with risks. We calculate and recalculate and re-recalculate our equations and then bid Godspeed. GreenHab was one such moment of introspection for me. It gave us an insight into how something as simple as gardening, can be so much revealing. Below is a summary of how it all has been so far.

On January 30th, we started with 267.5 gallons of water in the tank, the sprouts beans were planted and were kept in damp soil and the next day, it already started sprouting. These sprouts were later harvested on February 1st. Meanwhile, another mixture of seeds of Mat bean, Kidney bean, Fenugreek, and Sesame was kept ready for planting. These two were kept in damp soil and the moisture in it was always maintained. A mist of water was sprayed on them every once a while to ensure that the soil doesn’t dry out.

In a couple of days, the seeds busted out to give way to the newborn roots. All the sprouts in every soil tray had good growth. A couple of days more and we got used to the petrichor of soil; it somehow had a relaxing effect on the mind. On February 5th a tiny leaf appeared, and we hopped in joy. We can only imagine what a great moment of introspection in human history if we could be the first people to find that one little-fossilized flower on Mars. The next day, after almost 73 gallons, hours of supplementary light and lots of care later, the plants were noted to be in great shape and health.

Of all this time, the crops were mostly under room temperature but not below 16°C. And they received 5 hours of supplementary light each day. The moisture in the soil was observed to be significantly low around 3 o’clock in the afternoon but spiked back to normal in the evening. A net 12 gallons of water was sprinkled on the crops

  1. Science behind 3D Printing:

Since a decade, human being had been envisioning to establish a colony on Mars. Human colonization on Mars would be challenging because of the extreme environment but, it could be a perfect outpost to accumulate resources outside the Earth’s gravitational field. An operational Martian village would be economical, resourceful and efficient for human settlement and conduct further missions into deep space.

Additive manufacturing (a.k.a 3D printing) has become a choice of interest for building a habitat on Mars. The purpose of this experiment is to find conceptual design and evaluate the feasibility of using 3D printing technology for building infrastructure and habitats on Mars.

The aim of this experiment is to evaluate the additive manufacturing (3D printing) capabilities with artificial mars soil simulant to develop structures. In this method, the Martian soil simulant is mixed with binder chemicals in a certain ratio or proportion to obtain a colloidal suspension. The prepared ink is placed inside a tube and extruded to develop 3D structures using a customized 3D printer. A trial experiment has been performed with MARS soil simulant which has been utilized to prepare ink mixed with a polymer. The prepared ink has been 3D printed to develop some shapes and structures. The 3D printed bodies have survived and remained intact through an open-air drying for several weeks.

  1. Experimental GreenHab (Avishek Ghosh, Sonal Baberwal):

It feels great to see the initial stage of germination and plant growth in different soil compositions that are prepared by varying the amount of garden soil and carbon dust (extracted from charcoal) by combining with MDRS soil and JSC-MARS-1. The JSC-MARS-1 and it’s organic mixtures seem more promising as compared to local MDRS soil mixtures. The plants that are transferred from regular garden soil to JSC-MARS-1 Mixtures are surviving and growing even the germinated seeds started sprouting. But, the MDRS local soil and it’s organic compositions seems to hold less capacity to provide enough nutrients to the plants which started dying on the first day of transfer. At the same time, the water is drying out quickly from these mixtures. Although it is the initial stage of the investigation, however, more iterations through a long duration observation are required to derive the conclusions.

  1. Design and development of Martian Rover for Lava tube exploration (Kunal Naik):

In the last few years, there are lot of features like caves, vertical holes, lava tubes and basins on the Lunar and the Martian surface that has been discovered by various rover missions as well as Orbiters such as ISRO’s Chandrayaan-1, Maven, Curiosity – Opportunity rover, NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, Japan’s Lunar Orbiter SELENE. For future Lunar- Martian exploration and future human settlement, skylight is argued as the confirmed underground location. To investigate the lava tubes, The dual rover system will be deployed on the surface, one with the parent rover (4 wheeled rover ‘MoonRaker’) and second is the child rover (2 wheeled rover ‘Koguma’). The parent rover will be anchored on the cliff while the child rover will be deployed to investigate the lava tubes with the help of flexible length tether providing power and data transmission from mother to the child rover.

MDRS is the best platform to test the child rover tether system. The child rover project is a 2 – wheel rover system designed and developed by Sipna College of Engineering, India with collaboration with Nix Olympica Crew 204. The rover prototype was based on the IOT platform having the capabilities to be operated from India with live Audio/Video streaming. The project was undertaken by the crew Engineer. There was a problem with the rover inboard system during the transportation to MDRS the problem was solved during the mission. The main objective of the rover was to test the rover system at uneven inclined plane at MDRS platform in person and remotely from India. A local server was created to operate the rover connecting via the onboard Wifi Module and cloud computing platform. Various test like Indoor, outdoor, Wifi Module range test, Local Server test, tether test as well as Audio/Video tests were performed during the simulation. The project concluded well as all the test were a success except the tether test. The eye catching about the rover was being operated from Sipna College of Engineering campus India which is 13000 kms away from MDRS. The rover still needs some upgradation with its tether system and little work on its stabilization.

Journalist perspective:

It had been a difficult journey for the entire crew, to convert the impossible into a successful mission. Leaving the family and being into a complete isolated place with limited access to internet has been challenging. However, this had been a golden opportunity to have a self-analysis and gain an experience of extreme environment. This opportunity has made us aware of the fact that being an astronaut is not only a dream, this profession holds lot of responsibilities! We had an incredible opportunity to operate a rover from India, and we believe that this initiative will inspire other aspirants just like us to pursue their dreams on platforms like MDRS.

Final Notes and Remarks:

In general, there were no anomalies, The Hab operations, RAMM operations, Green Hab Operation were nominal. The crew 204 came up with their own projects which were successfully carried out along with their daily MDRS duties. The Crew was a best fit though it was a small crew, the objectives were accomplished. The workload was more but the team members had good bonding, understanding, trust, maturity, professionalism among each other. Water is life, Water was used very carefully in daily activities, the crew used ~ 300 gallons of water including the Green Hab water consumption. The food was sufficient for the crew of 4 members. The help and support from Mission Support is applaudable as they were very attentive and responsive to reports and requests.

Conclusion:
Living in isolation for days, with none other than the crew isn’t as easy as it sounds. One may have personal differences, habits or daily rituals that the other person isn’t used to. The MDRS has taught us – Crew 204, many things along with the baseline objective. It has taught us to live in harmony, to develop interpersonal relations, to work – not only for ourselves, but for the greater good of the entire team. And most importantly, it gave us hope and reminded us that “Life finds a way” not matter how hostile or seemingly impossible the environment.

Mission Summary – February 8th

Nix Olympica – Crew 204 presents…
“Journey to Mars”

Authors :
Avishek Ghosh (Commander)
Pranit Patil (XO & Greenhab Officer)
Kunal Naik (Crew Engineer)
Sonal Baberwal (HSO & Crew Journalist)

Acknowledgement:
We express our sincere gratitude to the delegates of MDRS foundation, Dr Robert Zubrin, Dr. Shannon Rupert & Carie Fay for providing us this opportunity to participate in this simulation mission. We convey our sincere thanks to the associates of MDRS looking after various areas. We sincerely thank the mission support and CapCom for their continuous support and cooperation to make our simulation better by educating us to maintain the right protocol. We want to thank Mr. Atila and Mr. David for their friendly and comforting nature with all support. Finally, we would like to thank our friends and supporters without whom this mission would have not been possible.

“The plants, the lab,
The rovers, the Hab.
The love, the care,
The friendship we share.
The food to cook,
The windows we look.
The signing in and signing off,
The mission support and Cap Com.
The EVAs we risked,
Yes, everything will be missed!”
~ Sonal Baberwal.

Introduction:
Reaching Mars was one of humanity’s most ambitious undertaking. The direct result of the decades-long global space race and the sheer audacity of humans to take exploration to the fastest reaches of our solar system. But make no mistake, this is no easy journey! The trip to Mars is as dangerous and challenging as anything we have ever tried. The journey alone seems extremely difficult, given the hostile environment of space. Nevertheless, if we manage to reach Mars (and not die on impact), it is empirical that if extremely difficult to survive the cold red planet! MDRS has bestowed a great opportunity for us, an all Indian crew this time, to drain our fears and it has given us insight beyond the horizon. It has given us a short glimpse, of how it would really be to live on Mars. The team – Crew 204 is a group of a super enthusiastic aspiring astronaut, who is determined to contribute their part towards the isolation program at MDRS. It becomes difficult at times to be all alone in isolation, but the Crew-204 is determined to conduct their research, no matter what the situation be. Our participation in MDRS will allow us to establish a research framework to continue our collaborative research activities for a long-term space exploration in near future. This inquisitiveness to encounter a thrilling environment would be possible to find at Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS).

The Crew 204 is a group of astronaut aspirants committed towards contributing for ongoing researches that are conducted under isolation during MDRS missions. Crew 204 is an organized team which outlines the framework to understand the necessity of performing scientific and technical experiments in isolation. We have realized how important it is to expand the boundary of exploration with an intercultural and interdisciplinary aspect. Our participation in MDRS will allow us to establish a research framework to continue our collaborative research activities for a long-term space exploration in near future.

Mission Objectives:
When it comes to colonizing Mars, it should be taken into account that the environment on the red planet is extremely hostile. Crew-204 is simulating a real-life environment on how life would be on Mars. We are made to experience a real-life adventure through analog. Considering the facts of possible challenges to survive in the extreme environment on MARS, the Crew 204 is paving their way to pursue a real-life analog simulation under isolated environment. We are instigated to experience a real-life adventure through analog simulation while resembling an extreme environment and living in isolation with crewmates in surroundings similar to the planet MARS.
This mission is designed to gain knowledge and practical experience working with crewmates with diverse background with intercultural and international aspects. This mission would also allow us gaining insight scenarios of an astronaut program and selection process for the long-duration space mission. With the recent technological advancements and scientific knowledge base, it is very important to perform some sophisticated assessment to find another frontier to explore and develop the strategic methodology, which could be beneficial to develop effective team compositions and technologies for the long-duration space mission. All this is just a small step towards the new adventure, that will take us, even deeper into the stars above!

EVA Summary:
In any mission, the ‘Extra-Vehicular Activity’ is considered as a fundamental element. However, the first Sol started with an invitation from a great explorer and admirer of nature Mr. Jad Davenport. It was another wonderful opportunity to exhibit the MDRS crew preparation for the simulation. Crew 204 feels honored to participate in a session invited by such personnel. Followed by this, the Crew 204 had performed total 10 EVA’s for general exploration, collecting soil samples while capturing some beautiful moments, landscapes and mesmerizing beauty of the nature.

EVA Sol Team Duration Destination Rovers used
1 2 Avishek, Kunal 1 hr 35 mins Pooh’s corner Spirit
2 2 Sonal, Pranit 1 hr 25 mins Pooh’s corner Opportunity
3 3 Avishek, Kunal 1 hr 30 mins Reservoir and Dam Spirit, Opportunity
4 4 Sonal, Avishek 55 mins Kissing camel ridge Opportunity
5 5 Kunal, Pranil 2 hr 4 5 mins White moon Opportunity, Spirit
6 8 Kunal, Sonal 1 hr Hab ridge Walking
7 9 Avishek, Pranit 1 hr 15 mins Hab ridge Walking
8 10 Kunal, Sonal 45 mins Hab area Walking
9 11 Avishek, Sonal 2 hr 30 mins Widow’s peak Opportunity, Curiosity
10 11 Kunal, Pranit 1 hr 15 mins Gateway to Lith Spirit

Our Research:
Our Research at MDRS aimed:
1. Green Hab
2. Science behind 3D printing
3. Experimental GreenHab
4. Design and development of Martian Rover for Lava tube exploration

Research Summary:
1. GreenHab (Pranit Patil):
No Astronaut launches for space with their fingers crossed. That’s NOT how we deal with risks. We calculate and recalculate and re-recalculate our equations and then bid Godspeed. GreenHab was one such moment of introspection for me. It gave us an insight into how something as simple as gardening, can be so much revealing. Below is a summary of how it all has been so far.

On January 30th, we started with 267.5 gallons of water in the tank, the sprouts beans were planted and were kept in damp soil and the next day, it already started sprouting. These sprouts were later harvested on February 1st. Meanwhile, another mixture of seeds of Mat bean, Kidney bean, Fenugreek, and Sesame was kept ready for planting. These two were kept in damp soil and the moisture in it was always maintained. A mist of water was sprayed on them every once a while to ensure that the soil doesn’t dry out.

In a couple of days, the seeds busted out to give way to the newborn roots. All the sprouts in every soil tray had good growth. A couple of days more and we got used to the petrichor of soil; it somehow had a relaxing effect on the mind. On February 5th a tiny leaf appeared, and we hopped in joy. We can only imagine what a great moment of introspection in human history if we could be the first people to find that one little-fossilized flower on Mars. The next day, after almost 73 gallons, hours of supplementary light and lots of care later, the plants were noted to be in great shape and health.

Of all this time, the crops were mostly under room temperature but not below 16°C. And they received 5 hours of supplementary light each day. The moisture in the soil was observed to be significantly low around 3 o’clock in the afternoon but spiked back to normal in the evening. A net 12 gallons of water was sprinkled on the crops daily.

2. Science behind 3D Printing:
Since a decade, human being had been envisioning to establish a colony on Mars. Human colonization on Mars would be challenging because of the extreme environment but, it could be a perfect outpost to accumulate resources outside the Earth’s gravitational field. An operational Martian village would be economical, resourceful and efficient for human settlement and conduct further missions into deep space.

Additive manufacturing (a.k.a 3D printing) has become a choice of interest for building a habitat on Mars. The purpose of this experiment is to find conceptual design and evaluate the feasibility of using 3D printing technology for building infrastructure and habitats on Mars.

The aim of this experiment is to evaluate the additive manufacturing (3D printing) capabilities with artificial mars soil simulant to develop structures. In this method, the Martian soil simulant is mixed with binder chemicals in a certain ratio or proportion to obtain a colloidal suspension. The prepared ink is placed inside a tube and extruded to develop 3D structures using a customized 3D printer. A trial experiment has been performed with MARS soil simulant which has been utilized to prepare ink mixed with a polymer. The prepared ink has been 3D printed to develop some shapes and structures. The 3D printed bodies have survived and remained intact through an open-air drying for several weeks.

3. Experimental GreenHab (Avishek Ghosh, Sonal Baberwal):
It feels great to see the initial stage of germination and plant growth in different soil compositions that are prepared by varying the amount of garden soil and carbon dust (extracted from charcoal) by combining with MDRS soil and JSC-MARS-1. The JSC-MARS-1 and it’s organic mixtures seem more promising as compared to local MDRS soil mixtures. The plants that are transferred from regular garden soil to JSC-MARS-1 Mixtures are surviving and growing even the germinated seeds started sprouting. But, the MDRS local soil and it’s organic compositions seems to hold less capacity to provide enough nutrients to the plants which started dying on the first day of transfer. At the same time, the water is drying out quickly from these mixtures. Although it is the initial stage of the investigation, however, more iterations through a long duration observation are required to derive the conclusions.

4. Design and development of Martian Rover for Lava tube exploration (Kunal Naik):
In the last few years, there are lot of features like caves, vertical holes, lava tubes and basins on the Lunar and the Martian surface that has been discovered by various rover missions as well as Orbiters such as ISRO’s Chandrayaan-1, Maven, Curiosity – Opportunity rover, NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, Japan’s Lunar Orbiter SELENE. For future Lunar- Martian exploration and future human settlement, skylight is argued as the confirmed underground location. To investigate the lava tubes, The dual rover system will be deployed on the surface, one with the parent rover (4 wheeled rover ‘MoonRaker’) and second is the child rover (2 wheeled rover ‘Koguma’). The parent rover will be anchored on the cliff while the child rover will be deployed to investigate the lava tubes with the help of flexible length tether providing power and data transmission from mother to the child rover.

MDRS is the best platform to test the child rover tether system. The child rover project is a 2 – wheel rover system designed and developed by Sipna College of Engineering, India with collaboration with Nix Olympica Crew 204. The rover prototype was based on the IOT platform having the capabilities to be operated from India with live Audio/Video streaming. The project was undertaken by the crew Engineer. There was a problem with the rover inboard system during the transportation to MDRS the problem was solved during the mission. The main objective of the rover was to test the rover system at uneven inclined plane at MDRS platform in person and remotely from India. A local server was created to operate the rover connecting via the onboard Wifi Module and cloud computing platform. Various test like Indoor, outdoor, Wifi Module range test, Local Server test, tether test as well as Audio/Video tests were performed during the simulation. The project concluded well as all the test were a success except the tether test. The eye catching about the rover was being operated from Sipna College of Engineering campus India which is 13000 kms away from MDRS. The rover still needs some upgrades with its tether system and little work on its stabilization.

Journalist perspective:
It had been a difficult journey for the entire crew, to convert the impossible into a successful mission. Leaving the family and being into a complete isolated place with limited access to internet has been challenging. However, this had been a golden opportunity to have a self-analysis and gain an experience of extreme environment. This opportunity has made us aware of the fact that being an astronaut is not only a dream, this profession holds lot of responsibilities! We had an incredible opportunity to operate a rover from India, and we believe that this initiative will inspire other aspirants just like us to pursue their dreams on platforms like MDRS.

 

Final Notes and Remarks:
In general, there were no anomalies, The Hab operations, RAMM operations, Green Hab Operation were nominal. The crew 204 came up with their own projects which were successfully carried out along with their daily MDRS duties. The Crew was a best fit though it was a small crew, the objectives were accomplished. The workload was more but the team members had good bonding, understanding, trust, maturity, professionalism among each other. Water is life, Water was used very carefully in daily activities, the crew used ~ 300 gallons of water including the Green Hab water consumption. The food was sufficient for the crew of 4 members. The help and support from Mission Support is applaudable as they were very attentive and responsive to reports and requests.

Conclusion:
Living in isolation for days, with none other than the crew isn’t as easy as it sounds. One may have personal differences, habits or daily rituals that the other person isn’t used to. The MDRS has taught us – Crew 204, many things along with the baseline objective. It has taught us to live in harmony, to develop interpersonal relations, to work – not only for ourselves, but for the greater good of the entire team. And most importantly, it gave us hope and reminded us that “Life finds a way” not matter how hostile or seemingly impossible the environment.

Mission Summary – Crew 203

MDRS Crew 203

Universidad Nacional de Colombia

Mission summary

Crewmembers

Oscar I. Ojeda – Commander
David Mateus – Executive Officer
Yael Méndez – Crew Scientist
Liza Forero – Crew Geologist
Hermes Bolivar – Greenhab Officer
Santiago Vargas – Crew Astronomer
Freddy Castañeda – Crew Engineer

 

Description

Crew 203 is the first time a 100% Colombian crew participates on the MDRS. It was 2 weeks rotation on which outreach, technology, and science projects were developed. The crew was comprised of 7 members, 1 of which operated remotely, the Crew Astronomer. The background of the crewmembers is on science and engineering majors, mostly focused on space applications, and planetary sciences and astrobiology. The initiative to develop the project arises from different interest on space exploration from research groups of Universidad Nacional de Colombia, the Aerospace Research and Development Group, GIDA-UN, the Astrobiology and Planetary Sciences Group, GCPA, and the National Astronomical Observatory. It is important to notice that Universidad Nacional de Colombia is the largest public university in the country, and has several majors, all together in the same campus, which leads to a highly interdisciplinary environment.

The crew had 2 broad lines of work towards the work on the station, the first one is related to outreach, and the second one is related to science and technology. The interest in developing outreach projects is related to the fact that Colombia does not have a well-developed space field, and this kind of opportunities provide a platform to develop several types of outreach activities, from general to specialized public. In fact, as of the beginning of the rotation, the crew had received exposure to national media. The second line of work is related more specifically to the areas of expertise of the crewmembers, developing projects following years of studies and preparation, and, as it usually happens in space exploration, collaboration with teams left back on Earth.

We are representing our country and university, and for that we picked two elements, the first one is our mascot, a red macaw, or Guacamaya, called Marsta Leticia, native from the forests of South America, and very representative because its feathers carry the colors of the flag of Colombia. The composed name, as traditionally Colombians have, is a transliteration of the name Marta, to include the word Mars, combined with Leticia, which is the capital city of the Amazonas department. Second, our patch is dominated by the colors blue and gold, the owl represents our university, which is shaped like an owl, as designed by Architect Leopoldo Rother, the blue in the background represents Earth, and the red eyes of the owl represent that we have our sight set on Mars. Finally, the golden color represents the El Dorado legend, the ancient riches and traditions of our indigenous people. 

 

Goals

General

To successfully execute a crew rotation on a Martian analog comprised in its entirety by Colombian crewmembers, executing science, technology, and outreach projects.

Specific

Learn about the dynamics of an analog mission, oriented towards future training of crews.

Develop a series of scientific and technological projects oriented towards the future of space exploration.

Generate contents which will serve as a basis for developing outreach projects and activities.

 

Acknowledgements

MDRS Crew 203 wants to acknowledge and thank all the people and institutions that made this possible. It’s been a year-long process that required a significant amount of effort from several people. We would like to start by thanking The Mars society, in head of its president, Dr. Robert Zubrin, as well as Director Shannon Rupert, and Atila Meszaros, who made us feel safe and welcomed in this vastness. We would also like to thank all the Capcom officers who were ready to take our reports, comments, and bad jokes during these 2 weeks. And also, all the people behind the scenes working actively to make this possible, Dr. Peter Detterline, David Murray, Scott Davis, and all of those whose name I forget to mention, but surely helped us make our mission smoother and wonderful.

We also want to thank Universidad Nacional de Colombia, our academic home, which allowed us to cross paths and dream about space together. The groups and institutions we belong to, The Aerospace Research and Development Group, GIDA-UN, The Planetary Sciences and Astrobiology Group, GCPA, The National Astronomical Observatory, OAN, and every one of the members which helped us even in the tiniest bit to make this possible.

 

Outcome

After having spent 14 days in the station, the crew considers the mission a success. While some of the experiments and research happened slower than expected, the general and specific goals were carried out successfully and we leave the station with a sense of accomplishment, and knowing that the experience acquired will serve to prepare future crews, and to develop better science and technology that will not only serve for the future of space exploration, but also for improving the quality of human life on Earth. The mission gained a lot of media reach on several nationwide newspapers and TV news, which served the purpose of letting people know this kind of research is doable by Colombians. Much of the contents generated during the mission will also be used to generate outreach activities, as well as academic production, contributing to the consolidation of a space sector within Colombia.

It is important to note how the crew bonded on a personal level, and there was a very good environment for work and for personal life. Knowing how to balance those two aspects will be key for the future of space exploration and long term missions.

 

EVA Summary

The crew executed a total of 8 EVAs during the 2 weeks period at the MDRS. While EVAs are a fundamental element for exploration, on future space missions they won’t be frequent, due to the risks they present for the safety of the crew. The main goal of the EVAs for our crew was to perform sampling for Geological and Biological prospection of sites. A total of 8 EVAs were performed, with a total duration of 24 hours.

 

Research results

A brief summary of the research results is presented. For more information, please contact the researchers. The projects description can be found in the “Mission Plan” document.

  1. Title: Evaluation of germination of greens under different light wavelengths.

Research team: Hermes Bolivar, Freddy Castañeda, David Mateus

Results

We don’t have results yet, Because, the materials for build the necessary structures arrive to the station late, the experiment stay in process and David will collect the results in the next days.

  1. Topic: Star tracker Positioning systems

Researcher: Hernan David Mateus Jimenez

During the simulation it was not possible to work in this project due to time, however David is going to continue working in this project during his internship at MDRS

  1. Title: Ethnography of MDRS

Researcher: Hernan David Mateus Jimenez, Pablo Cristancho

During the simulation David sent 3 Logbooks to Pablo Cristancho and they are going to be analyzed in Colombia

  1. Topic: Recycling & Space sustainability

Researcher: Hernan David Mateus Jimenez,

During the simulation David gathered a set of data of de solid garbage produced by crew 203, this is going to be analyzed after simulation

  1. Title: Photogrammetry parameters of some samples of the MDRS region.

Researchers: Liza Forero, Fabián Saavedra.

Results: Some outcrops and rock samples were taken in situ. All the images that where obtain are being processed with other satellite images to create DEM´s (Digital Elevation Models). Each model is a 3D recreation of the photographed landscape.

  1. Title: Physic and chemical parameters of some samples of the MDRS region and sample processing with geobiologic potential.

Researchers: Liza Forero, Yael Méndez.

Results: Some grids were made in different areas of the MDRS zone, for each grid three parameters were analysed, conductivity, pH and absorbance, the results of each parameter lecture are being analysed and processed statistically and are going to be compare with an analogue in Colombia.

Samples were collected in North Pinto Hills and Beige Moon region. These samples were characterized according to their physicochemical parameters, finding that, in these places alkalophilic microorganisms can be found, with a high availability of nutrients.

  1. Title: Evaluation of microbiome from surfaces samples at the MDRS

Research team: Yael Mendez, Hermes Bolivar, Oscar Ojeda

Results:

This project could not be completed. The temperature of the incubator was not stable due to generator failures and thermal shock occurred, which affected the bacterial cultures. It is expected that next crews can resume the experiment.

  1. Title: Design and construction of an equipment for measuring, register and monitor the variables necessary for the characterization of evapotranspiration in soilless crops with simulation of regolith of Mars.

Researcher: Freddy Castañeda

Results:

An unexpected failure in the controller made the equipment unusable for taking measurements, a spare controller was requested but it didn’t reach the simulation time.  The experiment will be developed on the campus of the National University of Colombia recreating the now known conditions of the Mars desert.

  1. Title: Evaluation of the germination of greens on analog Martian soil.

Researcher: Hermes Bolivar, Fredy Castañeda, David Mateus.

Results:

The project has been finished, we saw that the number of seeds   on the Martian soil with the potting mix is less than the control, this result, show us the difficult for culture with the Martian soil and require of more research.

Final Notes and Remarks

In general, the performance of the station was nominal. Apart from some issues with the diesel generator and a couple suit batteries, there were no anomalies. We consumed all the proteins provided, as well as most of the snacks. Water consumption was measured to be 530gal, plus the greenhab usage, which was enough for food, drink, and basic hygiene. Mission Support was profoundly helpful and was very responsive to reports and requests. We’d like to suggest the Mission Support mailing list to be updated from the beginning of the field season, so that crews will be aware of the situation.

 

For future crews:

Don’t over estimate the time for science you have on the station, keeping it up will be demanding.

Prepare your projects with time, find out what’s available at the station before arriving and plan accordingly.

Food is fundamental, don’t starve, you have enough food, and get some cooking skills. A fine plate of food can lift the crew’s spirit.

Read the handbook, it’s there for a reason…!

Mission Summary – Crew 202

Mars Desert Research Station
Mission Summary

Crew 202 – MartianMakers
Dec 28th, 2018 – Jan 12th, 2019

 

 

Crew Members:

Commander and Crew Astronomer: Dr. Cesare Guariniello

Executive Officer: Denys Bulikhov

Crew Engineer: Kasey Hilton

Health and Safety Officer and GreenHab Officer: Jake Qiu

Crew Geologist: Ellen Czaplinski

Crew Journalist: Alexandra Dukes

 

Acknowledgements:

The Crew of MDRS 202 would like to express their gratitude to all the people who made this mission possible: our deepest thanks to Dr. Robert Zubrin, President of the Mars Society; Dr. Shannon Rupert, MDRS Director and Program Manager, who made us feel warmly welcome at MDRS campus; Atila Meszaros, Assistant Director, who for the first time experienced being the only resident manager of MDRS, and performed greatly with our crew; Dr. Peter Detterline, Director of Observatories, who trained and assisted our Crew Astronomer before and during the mission; David Murray, GreenHab Team Lead; Michael Stoltz, The Mars Society Liaison, Media and Public Relations; the Mission Support CapCom who served during our rotation: Sylvain Burdot, Johanna Kollewyn, Andrew Foster, Justin Dingman, Bernard Dubb, Samuel Cadavid, and Makiah Eustice; Purdue MARS, which initiated the crew selection for this mission; all the departments and people at Purdue University who supported this mission; and all the unnamed people who work behind the scene to make this effort possible, and who gave us a chance to be an active part of the effort towards human exploration of Mars.

 

Mission description and outcome:

MDRS 202 “MartianMakers” is the second all-Purdue crew at MDRS. This mission had an ambitious plan, and it was greatly successful. All crewmembers performed to the highest standards and provided good work on their research projects, as well as support to projects of the other crewmembers. With a little help from meetings and information provided before the mission, the crew adapted to life at MDRS very quickly, and even when tiredness began creeping in, the morale was always high, as demonstrated by a healthy number of smiles and happy faces up to the very last day. As expected, we found out that patience and flexibility are the most helpful qualities in a simulated mission where the crew lives in close quarters for an extended period of time. The research projects that required Extra Vehicular Activities (EVA) provided enough data despite very cold days, and the fresh snow which accumulated twice during the rotation and melted down leaving muddy trails behind. The research described below touched many aspects of human exploration of Mars, ranging from geology, microbiology, astronomy, and potential use of waste to the psychological and social aspects of the mission. The crew was also involved in various outreach projects, which is an important objective of MDRS.

 

Figure 1. MDRS 202 Crew posing in front of the habitat with a “thank you” sign for the Mars Society. Left to right: Commander and Crew Astronomer Cesare Guariniello, Crew Journalist Alexandra Dukes, Crew Engineer Kasey Hilton, Health and Safety Officer and GreenHab Officer Jake Qiu, Executive Officer Denys Bulikhov, and Crew Geologist Ellen Czaplinski

As commander, I am extremely proud of this crew, which was capable to keep the highest level of fidelity and realism in the situation. The crew properly followed safety and research protocols, worked as a tightened group, and in the structured daily schedule was capable to mix long hours of research and exploration activities with personal and team-bonding time. The pace kept throughout the mission was adequate for the objectives proposed in the mission plan, but at the same time slow enough, as expected in a long-term Martian settlement. The crew began preparing their projects long before the mission, collected useful and interesting data during their time and MDRS, and has plans for use of the data after the completion of the mission, as well as ideas for laying foundations for continued collaboration of Purdue crews with the MDRS program and for supporting MDRS with products and manuals for future crews.

 

 

Summary of Extra Vehicular Activities (EVA)

After being trained in the use of rovers and in the safety protocols for EVA, the crew had twelve excursions during rotation 202, two of which being traditional short EVA to Marble Ritual. The EVA served four research projects: study of mineralogy and regime of sand dunes, stress levels and decision making, autonomy for crew EVA, and radiological mapping of MDRS. Due to snow in the first days and mud in the last days, the crew could not reach the end of Cactus Rd in the East side, and Skyline Rim in the West side, but explored various areas of interest in the Morrison Formation and Dakota Sandstone. The crew optimized the time on the field, limiting the driving time to 15-25% of the entire EVA duration.

Table 1. Summary of EVA, indicating Sol of execution, duration, distance covered, and time percentage spent in the field

 

Figure 2. Three-dimensional view of the EVA performed by MDRS 202 crew

 

Research Projects:

Project 1

Title: Fuzzy Logic Decision Making in support of autonomy for crew EVAs

Author: Cesare Guariniello

Description, activities, and results: The project compares decision-making based on a fuzzy-logic intelligent machine with decision-making by the crew when events occur during EVA. During the longest EVA, the Commander suggested potential events, including failed communications, rover failures, crew injury, unexpected environmental conditions, and asked the crew to describe what they would decide for the rest of the EVA in that situation, and why. For some events, the decision was unanimous (evaluate the criticality of the situation, then proceed), when the perceived risk was low, and the objective of the EVA were not even partially accomplished. Other events entered gray areas, in which the crew at times did not consider the potential risks to exceed the potential gain from continuing the EVA or moving to a secondary objective. In these cases, the decisions of the machine were more conservative.

Project 2

Title: Stress levels and decision making during Extravehicular Activity (EVA)

Author: Denys Bulikhov

Description, activities, and results: The project evaluates decision-making patterns at different level of stress, including calm conditions, after long EVA, and after the Cold Pressor test. This data will identify potential areas of danger due to misjudgment and faulty decision-making in conditions of stress. All planned data was collected for this experiment, and the first results have been evaluated. Due to a bug in the application used to analyze the data, final results will be available after the end of the mission, with an updated version of the application.

Project 3

Title: Study of microbial ecosystem in microgreens

Author: Jake Qiu

Description, activities, and results: The project studies the evolution of microbial ecosystems in microgreens treated with different types of water, to compare the community structure between different conditions and estimate the possibility that microbes introduced in the environment by astronauts develop any pathogenic strains. Multiple trays of microgreen were grown, and microbes were studied with a NASA DNA sequencer. Phenotypic properties were evaluated in-situ, while full results on microbial community require post-processing in laboratory that will be executed after the end of the mission.

Figure 3. MDRS 202 GreenHab Officer setting up microgreens for the experiment on microbial exosystems

Project 4

Title: Analysis of mineralogy and regime of sand dunes and fluvial processes

Author: Ellen Czaplinski

Description, activities, and results: many features in the MDRS area were studied during 10 of the 12 EVA, and sand samples were collected in various locations. The in-situ portion of the project was completed by collecting visible and near-infrared spectra of more than 90 geological samples in the area, mainly including clays (illite and montmorillonite) and gypsum. The work will proceed after the end of the mission by comparing samples collected in the field with samples taken in laboratory.

 

Figure 4. Crew Engineer Kasey Hilton points at a rock she just collected for crew geologist Ellen Czaplinski

Project 5

Title: Composting and recycling waste on Mars

Author: Kasey Hilton

Description, activities, and results: this project studied the waste produced at the habitat, to evaluate the nitrogen and carbon content. This is very important when planning to use the waste to create a compost pile, which would provide a way for waste to be reused and provide plants with nutrients. A healthy compost requires a 1:25 ratio of nitrogen-rich to carbon-rich waste. Human waste can be used to modify the ratio towards carbon-richer compost, therefore an anonymous journal of human waste production has been kept, in order to evaluate the amount of compost that could be produced. Due to the lack of carbon-rich waste and to the large amount of food, which is nitrogen-rich, the waste produced at the habitat resulted highly nitrogen-rich and would require human waste added to modify the ratio of nitrogen to carbon.

 

Project 6

Title: Classroom Outreach via asynchronous Q&A

Author: Alexandra Dukes

Description, activities, and results: Questions of interest about MDRS and living on Mars were prepared for the crew. Each crew member was videotaped answering the questions in a “73 questions” Vogue format, and the videos will be used for outreach after the end of the mission.

 

Project 7

Title: Messier objects for outreach

Author: Cesare Guariniello

Description, activities, and results: with the support of Dr. Peter Detterline and Dr. Shannon Rupert, the Crew Astronomer and Atila Meszaros helped improving the focus of the MDRS-WF telescope. In the months preceding the mission and during the mission itself, the Crew Astronomer captured and processed images of various deep-space objects, including M1, M31, M33, M42, M51, M78, IC405, the Rosette Nebula, the Horsehead Nebula, the Rosette Nebula, and comet C46P/Wirtanen. The images will be used for outreach and education.

Figure 5. M31 Andromeda Galaxy imaged with the MDRS-WF telescope

Project 8

Title: Radiological mapping of MDRS and surrounding areas

Author: Denys Bulikhov

Description, activities, and results: Addressing the problem of radiation on Mars, this project simulated a possible activity that astronaut will perform on the surface of Mars, and ambient radiation readings were collected in 32 different points around MDRS. The levels were between 10 μR/h around Cactus Rd and 30 μR/h around Kissing Camel Ridge. However, one location on the southern wall of Lith Canyon had a reading of 127 μR/h, possibly due to the presence of fossilized remains in the area. A map of MDRS with associated ambient radiation levels will be produced after the end of the mission.

 

Project 9

Title: Students outreach on projects towards Martian mission

Author: Alexandra Dukes

Description, activities, and results: The ongoing project is producing descriptions of the research performed by members of MDRS 202 aimed at different levels: K-6, 7-12, and college.

Project 10

Title: Photometry of faint objects

Author: Cesare Guariniello

Description, activities, and results: this project used the MDRS-14 telescope before the beginning of the mission, to evaluate the photometry of Pluto and Makemake. Due to weather conditions and some remaining problem with the centering of the telescope, preference went to imaging with the MDRS-WF telescope, and more photometry will be performed after the end of the mission.

Project 11

Title: MARSter Chef

Author: Alexandra Dukes

Description, activities, and results: the project showcases how the rehydrated food available at MDRS is used to prepare delicious breakfast meal

 

Mars Desert Research Station Crew 202