Astronomy Report – April 17th

Hello Peter,

We tried yesterday night to focus on shining stars. We used the black focus first, then the gold one, we understand the way it is supposed to work, but here is the problem : the image is never sharp, and when we defocus the star become « twisted » in one direction. To illustrate the problem, I joined a sketch of our problem. The quality of the draw is awfull, I’m sorry, we can’t use internet so I did what I could. Mathieu thinks this problem is well known and could be explained by the misalignment of mirrors. Would you know what problem it is? What would it be caused to? And what could we do to fix it?

Best regards,

Quentin and Mathieu

Astronomy Report – April 16th

Astronomy Report

Name: Quentin Thomas, Mathieu Vander Donckt      Crew: 178
date: 14 April 2017

Sky Conditions: clear

Wind Conditions: windy, we closed the lower part of the shutter because it was shivering.

Observation Start Time: 1am

Observation End Time: 2am

Summary: The first goal was to set up the telescope for the first time. We couldn’t make any photography due to the problems described below.

Objects Viewed: Arcturus, Jupiter

Problems Encountered: impossible to focus. For each viewed star, what should have been a single point was stretched out. Jupiter was fuzzy. We guess this is due to the alignment of the primary mirror. Can you send us the procedure to follow? Thank you.

Also, we didn’t dare to open the lower part of the shutter because of the wind. It was shivering. We let the upper part open to set up the telescope for next nights. After encountering the focusing problem, we closed everything.


Best regards,

Quentin “Dips” Thomas, Crew Astronomer,

Mathieu “Mitch” Vander Donckt, Crew Scientist and Journalist.


Geology Report – March 30th

rew 177 Geology Report  March 30, 2017
Crew 177 Geologist Report
Dear Mission Support,
Today is a sunny day, and we are ready to head to the geology stop “The Little Canyon”. After the delicious pancake breakfast, Becky, Esteban, Pitchayaba, and I went on the two Rovers and one ATVs with the measure tools – rope and tape.
Our mission for today’s EVA is to measure the height of the little canyon. About 15 mins, we have arrived the little canyon, and I climbed to the top of the canyon and throw the rope down to the cliff, but I held the one end of the rope, and then Esteban made a mark on the rope. We took some great pictures and videos over there. After we came back to the HAB, we measured the length of the rope, the height of the little canyon is around 18 feet. It was a great experience.
Caleb Li

Astronomy Report – March 30th

Crew 177 Astronomer Report 30Mar2017
Astronomer Report
On Sol 1 & 2 the sky was too cloudy to attempt to use the telescope.  On Sol 3, we enjoyed the night sky with the naked eye.  On Sol 4 we went to the Musk Observatory and followed the quick guide procedures.
We were able to view and focus on Jupiter, but were unable to focus on Polaris or Beetle Juice.  Because we were unable to complete the alignment procedure we discontinued use of the telescope.
Becky Parker
Crew 177 Astronomer

Geologist & HSO Report – March 28th

Crew 177 Geologist & HSO Officer


This is the third day being this HAB. I still cannot get rid of the excited feeling. Today is also the media day after we woke up in the morning around 7 am, we had the interview with the National Public Radio journalist, Ms. Rae Bichell. In the morning, four people from our crew and the reporter went out for a short EVA at the Cow Patty Field. In the afternoon, Dr. Villarroel, Joseph Quass, Victoria LaBarre and I went out to the Geology EVA. We ride 2 ATVs and 1 Rover, we went to the two stops, first stop is Cow Patty field, and we collected white-coating rock sample from the geology site 1A and 1B, sketched the sedimentary structure and took some photos of the field. We spent 50 mins on this stop. The next stop is the Little Canyon, we measured the height of the canyon, collected 8 bags of the dirt samples at the canyon, and took some photos there. We spent around 50 mins. Then, we came back to the HAB to enjoy the delicious tortilla meal.


Crew health situation: Everyone feels good, but we are worried about the lack of toilet and it might affect health.


Caleb Li

Science Report – March 27th

Science Report
Crew 177
Filled by Esteban Ramirez, Elijah Espinoza, Victoria LaBarre, Joseph Quaas.

Today, crew 177 spent the day working on a Chemistry EVA as well as working on their independent projects.  Unfortunately one of the goal of the chemistry EVA could be completed due technical difficulty with the Geiger counter.  Crew member will work on trying to solve the problem as a secong group will be send later this week to complete the task. Next, crew went to the Candor Chasma to collect water samples. Water was not located in this area although several moist areas were identified under rocks. Gypsum was evaluated and the students discussed that you can make water from gypsum if needed.  Some samples were brought back for future composition evaluation.  An important amount of green vegetation and colorful were observed down in the canyon.  We observed birds, and found evidence of nesting by some unknown creatures.

Esteban Espinoza, spent part of the afternoon working on his project. The generator bike was unpacked and partially assembled during SOL 1. During SOL 2, the final components to the bike were attached and we began test trials. Crew member, Pitchayapa Jingjit began the first test trial. There were a few complications with the readings from her heartrate sensor initially, but these were later solved. The bike generator was also initially unable to generate power due to weak initially battery levels, but this issue was solved using a larger battery to charge the generator’s batteries. In Pitchayapa’s second trials, we could obtain constant heartrate measurements, and there was a significant increase in the battery’s voltage. We plan to begin official trials in the coming days wherever possible.
Caleb Li spent part of his afternoon working on  a LED digital clock in the air lock, since there is not a clock in the air lock so far; he came up the idea that make a digital clock by using FPGAs and the Basys 2 board. This clock could optimize the crew member’s experience when they wait in the air lock and go out do the simulation. He is currently working on the alarm function on the Basys 2 board, he found some issues related with the alarm codes and he is working on solve them. He is planning to continue troubleshooting for the alarm function tomorrow. Hope it will work out.

Joseph Quass, in addition to led the chemistry’s EVA during the morning, he spent his afternoon working on a virtual reality training simulator. This specific simulation is based on MDRS, so the sim would train incoming crews of the basic layout of the HAB, as well as important surrounding locations. Today, he worked on editing textures in order to fix some clipping issues that were occurring prior to my arrival at MDRS. The rest of his time at MDRS will be devoted to making the simulation as accurate as possible to the real deal in order to immerse users. The goal of the simulation is to train participants in the layout and through certain situations, such as rescue emergencies, that can occur on-site. Tomorrow, he will continue with bug-fixes and terrain creation.

Elijah and Victoria are doing joint research about robotic. First the robot was unpacked and parts were checked for damage. They proceeded to assemble the robot, starting with the frame, circuitry, wheels and then finally the motors and gearboxes. Once fully assembled, Victoria taught Elijah how to use a soldering iron so that we could connect motor wires to motor controller wires, which went into the brain. This ended up becoming larger tutorial for other members of the crew who were in tested in learning how to solder wire. After connecting the wires, they switched on the robot. They noted that although the robot turned on, the wireless communication between the remote control and the brain seemed to have trouble connecting.  They plan to try solving this problem by cutting up two USB cables that they brought to solder together a USB to USB cable that will connect the brain and the remote control.

Geologist Report – March 26th

Crew 177 Geologist & HSO Report

My name is Caleb Li and my roles in Crew 177 are the geologist and Health Safety Officer. Today is our first day to have EVA, and we did EVA orientation with four crew members in the morning and the other four members in the afternoon. We learned how to operate the radio and GPS connection, drive ATVs safely, observe the variation of the rock and landscape, collect the rock samples, and take pictures. It is fun and very interesting to put on the space suit and experience the astronaut’s feelings.

Caleb Li

Science Report – March 25th

Science Report

Michał Kazaniecki
Crew 176 Engineer

In recent days we had 2 EVAs with Ares rover. We performed some field tests to check procedures and collaboration with rover and to examine Ares behavior in various conditions.

Two days ago we had objectives regarding human-robot interactions. Ares was helping geologist with collecting the samples. It took some pieces of rock and delivered it to destination.

Yesterday we performed further field tests. We headed north, to the area between Hab and North Ridge. Ares climbed on several quite steep hills, some pf them up to 35 degrees. It was a great opportunity to observe how the suspension works when forces on each wheel are not equal (and asymmetrical). Besides, we checked the performance of motors and grip of wheels on loose soil as well as we drove in the dust and mud to verify the impact of water or dirt on mechanical parts.

One of unexpected events was when Ares dug itself in sand. Unfortunately, it blew two electric fuses while it was trying to escape.

We also performed tests on maximum range of wireless communication (without additional antenna). Results were quite surprising – in open field (without any obstacles around) we nearly lost visual contact with rover but the connection was still quite good.

That EVA was also an opportunity to train an additional rover operator. It took less than minute to explain how to drive a rover.

A completely new experience, impossible to gain on robotic competitions like University Rover Challenge  was operating the rover in helmet and space suit. We found out, that using a joystick in gloves is as comfortable as without them.  On the contrary, sun reflections on the helmet makes nearly impossible to see anything on computer screen.



Science Report – March 22nd

Crew 176 Science Report 22 March 2017

Natalia Zalewska
Science Report
22 March 2017 – Sol 11

Dear Mission Support,

We went to the East to see the Jurassic formations in White Rock Canyon
with petrified sandbanks and dunes (Fig.1). I noted characteristic cross-
beddings. Similar beddings are noticable in Gale crater provided  by the
Curiosity rover (Fig2). For milions years on Mars and on Earth layers of
small rock pieces have been deposited in a similar way and now they have
been exposited by erosion.


Natalia Zalewska
Commander and Crew geologist, MDRS Crew 176

Curiosity Gale
White Canyon

Science Report – March 23rd

Crew 176 Science Report 23 March 2017
Natalia Zalewska
Science Report
23 March 2017 – Sol 12

Dear Mission Support,

I have done comparison of sedymentations between different sandstones as
well as in relation to blueberries found on Mars by Opportunity rover in
the Endurance crater. Inside sandstones developed at the turn of Jurassic
and Cretaceous I have found near the habitat (Fig.1), there are
concretions in a side up to 1 cm, while in the layers originated from
Cretaceous in Member of Mancos Shale (Ferron Sandstone)(Fig.2) these
concretions have size of a few milimeters only. However, for example in
the Miocene layers dating from 6 million years ago in Romania in Costesti,
in Museum Trovanţilor(Fig.3) the concretions have diameters up to 5 m. The
characteristic feature is that such concretions are produced in very
fine-grained sandstones. In all these cases, scientists refer to river
deltas in which these concretions have formed. They are the result of
cementation, or the process of transformation of loose rock sediments into
a compact rock. This is the result of the fill by the cementation of the
free space between the sediment grains. Because the grains of a sand are
the result of rolling by water currents they have a spherical form,
combining them with merging solutions, for example due to calcium
carbonate or sulphate and clay minerals in the case of Mars, and then take
the form of a ball. It is said that on Mars were flowing rivers, which
could have also deposited large amounts of sediment. It is unknown exactly
whether these rivers carried sand similar to terrestrial or just altered
volcanic material. In any case, it is assumed that the concretions on Mars
were generated under the conditions of water which flow carrying the
solutions primarily of sulfates and clay minerals in addition the iron
oxides deposited on them (Fig.4)like in the case of spherules from Navajo
Sandstone from Jurassic formations .


Natalia Zalewska
Commander and Crew geologist, MDRS Crew 176