Sol Summary – November 25th

Sol: 12
Summary Title: Mission End
Author’s name: Jas Purewal
Mission Status: Nominal
Sol Activity Summary:
Cleaning. Made 2 microscope slides, looked at melted ice samples – nothing alive. Rehydrated lichen – amazed to see the difference between the fungi and the organism responsible for photosynthesis. Broke sim at 2pm. Took photos in front of the hab. Went to dinner in Hanksville with Shannon and Sergii.
Look Ahead Plan: Last bit of cleaning/packing and leaving for Grand Junction.
Anomalies in work: None
Weather: Rather nice. Sunny, clear. No rain.
Crew Physical Status: Good.
EVA: No EVA
Reports to be filed:
Commander’s report
GreenHab
Operations report
Sol Summary report
Journalist report

Support Requested: none

Operations Report – November 25th

SOL: 12
Name of person filing report: Jas Purewal
Non-nominal systems: none
Notes on non-nominal systems: NA
ROVERS
Spirit rover used: No
Hours: (before EVA) NA
Beginning charge: (Before EVA) NA
Ending charge: (On return from EVA, before recharging) NA
Currently charging: No
Opportunity rover used: No
Hours: NA
Beginning charge: NA
Ending charge: NA
Currently charging: NA
Curiosity rover used: No
Hours: NA
Beginning charge: NA
Ending charge: NA
Currently charging: No
Perseverance rover used: No
Hours: NA
Beginning charge: NA
Ending charge: NA
Currently charging: NA
General notes on rovers:
Summary of Hab operations: put notes here
WATER USE: 25 gallons
Water (static tank): 300 gallons
Static tank pipe heater (on or off): on
Static tank heater (On or off) on
Toilet tank emptied: No
Summary of internet: Good
Summary of suits and radios: optimal
Summary of GreenHab operations: None
WATER USE: 6.66 gallons
Heater: On
Supplemental light: Off
Harvest: none
Summary of ScienceDome operations: None
Dual split: (Heat or AC, On or Off) Heat, Off
Summary of RAM operations: (Tools used, work done) glue, tape and pliers returned to the RAM.
Summary of any observatory issues: NA
Summary of health and safety issues: all good
Questions, concerns and requests to Mission Support: none

Mission Summary – November 25th

MDRS Crew 268 was an all-woman international mission sponsored by the Mars Society. Planning for this mission commenced in 2020, so we were excited to arrive at the station on November 13th and begin the journey. Some crew members have had their sights set on MDRS as early as 2012!

Crew
Commander: Dr. Jennifer Hesterman (United States)
Executive Officer/Scientist: Jas Purewal (United Kingdom)
Health and Safety Officer: Elizabeth Balga (United States)
Biologist & Greenhab Officer: Caitlyn Hubric (United States)
Engineer: Judith Marcos (United States)
Journalist: Izabela Shopova (Bulgaria)
The crew undertook important research and scientific exploration during the mission. We were excited to Beta test Paro, an artificial intelligence therapeutic robot in the form of a baby harp seal. We studied how Paro mitigated feelings of stress and isolation and the data will be useful in supporting research on future analog missions. Half of the crew enjoyed time with Paro during the first week, while the others had access to him during Week 2. We self-reflected on how his presence affected our mental health and emotional well-being.

The Crew Engineer successfully accomplished a carry capacity test with the Pleiades Anchor, designed to help astronauts easily retrieve rock and soil samples without having to bend over or squat. She deliberately pushed the robot to its breaking point, testing its ability to function with an accumulation of debris and on different surfaces. The information gleaned from the experiment will allow her team to improve the device’s design and hopefully travel to the Moon or Mars one day.

The Health and Safety Officer provided training and education on a variety of challenges we might encounter in a remote, austere environment. We also used the Oculus VR goggles for first aid training, and the crew carried out three splinting scenarios. To reinforce these concepts, the crew accomplished two emergency exercises and a tabletop scenario with many lessons learned. Crises included an injury on an EVA and two medical issues within the confines of the station. Follow on crisis leadership and communication training complemented the drills and enhanced learning and skill development.

The crew maximized our available food supply in the station to create healthy meals and maintain our energy level. We bonded during mealtimes, whether sharing our personal life experiences, or enjoying light conversation and laughter. The Crew Biologist harvested microgreens from the Green Hab for fresh salads, which we greatly enjoyed. She also attempted to cultivate edible mushrooms, however they were contaminated with a green mold. As with all research, this situation led to new insights as the biologist observed the speed at which the fungi colonized the substrate. These edible decomposers can be a valuable addition to a colony’s greenhouse for several reasons; not only can they generate food for a crew at a faster rate in comparison to fruits and vegetables, but they can also decompose matter and generate a compost/fertilizer blend to add to the greenhouse soil.

The crew journalist not only created colorful and impactful essays about our 2 week journey, but also successfully developed a simplified, error proof process for daily yogurt making in the station. She used the powdered milk and kitchen utensils already available at MDRS, which demonstrates the feasibility of making the homemade yogurt part of the analog astronauts’ diet. She used lactobacillus bulgaricus (chosen for its benefits for the digestive and immune systems) and the crew enjoyed yogurt in several recipes. She also demonstrated to the crew the simplicity of the process and educated them on the health benefits of yogurt consumption. The crew filled questionnaires, evaluating the quality of the yogurt, its ease of preparation and suitability for analog astronauts missions, which will add to the body of research already available on research of gut health and health benefits of lactobacteria. She also completed a video response to the more than 30 questions from school children from the Bulgarian Space Academy.

The Commander executed a slate of training and education modules and hands-on exercises on group development, leadership, followership and individual growth topics. These strategies will enhance knowledge of self and maximize success working in diverse groups in a remote, austere environment. They are also applicable in our daily lives. Throughout the mission, the crew discussed Tuckman’s five phases of group development – forming, storming, norming, performing and adjourning. Other sessions introduced the crew to a variety of self-assessment tools. Crisis leadership and communications modules complemented emergency exercises. A team building activity using LEGOs reinforced communication and listening skills. The crew also supported the Intertribal Space Conference with a video, and Beta tested the new Space ABC nutrition app which provided menus based on available food items and kitchen appliances. The U.S. crew hosted their foreign colleagues for a Thanksgiving feast and shared their family traditions for celebrating the holiday. Being in an austere, remote environment made us all thankful for family, partners and friends and the abundance of resources in our lives.

Crew 268 successfully accomplished the mission. We enjoyed exploring the stunning Mars-like landscape, incredibly rich sunrises and sunsets, and a star-filled sky at night. We hope our research activities will inform future space missions and will continue pursuing our dreams of living and working on another planet.

Journalist Report – November 25th

Sol: 12
Title: Our martian adventure is over

Author: Izabela Shopova, Crew Journalist

Our last sol greets us with a sun as bright and a window view as breathtakingly beautiful as ever. We are so lucky – Mars has been charming and endearing every day of our mission. The crew is busy, focused, working hard to catch up with our various projects and wrap up a successful mission. Last reports complete, photos uploaded and voted for, personal belongings collected and organized. After a quick lunch, we get busy with cleaning, ticking tasks off our end-of-mission checklist, making sure we leave the Hub and its facilities in perfectly good condition to make the next crew feel welcomed and at home.

And then we break the sim. Our martian adventure is over.

It was amazing, busy, productive, full of excitement, lessons learned, shared moments and inspiring experiences. It gave us a different perspective on life on Earth, taught us to count our blessings and appreciate what we often take for granted – the simple privilege of being with our loved ones, of enjoying the comforts and safety of our home environments and the accessibility of uninterrupted daily interactions with the rest of the world. We are richer with experience, knowledge and appreciation, ready for new beginnings and even greater adventures.

Now we can walk outside, take a breath without the space suits, take photos on the porch of the Hab and watch the brilliant night desert sky for as long as the freezing winter air allows us.

Over the horizon Mars is glowing red, bright and inviting.

Yes, yes, we are coming!

GreenHab Report – November 25th

Sol 12
GreenHab Officer: Caitlyn Hubric
Environmental control: (heater, fan, door open?) heater on, door closed, 20% humidity
Average temperatures: 43.3ºC/13.5ºC
Hours of supplemental light: N/A
Daily water usage for crops: 25.2 L ≈ 6.66 gal
Daily water usage for research and/or other purposes: 0 gal
Water in Blue Tank ~230 gallons
Time(s) of watering for crops: twice, morning and night, 9am-6pm
Changes to crops:
-Today I spread the rest of the radish seeds (Radish French Breakfast) in the blue bin with the beans where they previously were. There are a few survivors of my harvest.
-I also spread some dill seeds in the big blue bin in the portion that I harvested from.
-Two of the beans in the single pots I planted have started to germinate and I can see them pushing out of the soil.
-One of the peas I planted in the single pots on the shelf has started to sprout.
-Today I fertilized all the plants following the instructions from Shannon.
Narrative:
-Today was my last day taking care of the greenhouse. I have greatly enjoyed watching the plants grow over the last two weeks and I hope the next crew enjoys the microgreens!
Harvest: (include which crop and mass in grams) N/A
Support/supplies needed: N/A

Research Report – November 25th

[category science-report]

End of Mission Research Report

Crew 268 – All Woman Crew, Mars Society

November 13-26, 2022

Crew

  • Commander: Dr. Jennifer Hesterman (United States)

  • Executive Officer/Scientist: Jas Purewal (United Kingdom)

  • Health and Safety Officer: Elizabeth Balga (United States)

  • Biologist & Greenhab Officer: Caitlyn Hubric (United States)

  • Engineer: Judith Marcos (United States)

  • Journalist: Izabela Shopova (Bulgaria)

Below is a detailed summary of research activities conducted during the mission.

Jenni Hesterman (CDR)

Conducted crew education regarding strategies to enhance knowledge of self and maximize success working in diverse groups in a remote, austere environment. Training sessions included how to take and use the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and the VARK Learning Preference Tool. Led roundtable discussions regarding leadership, followership and mentoring skills in the analog environment. Delivered a crisis leadership and communications module and conducted a tabletop emergency response exercise. Led a team communication exercise using Legos. Supported the Intertribal Space Conference with a crew video, and Beta tested the new Space ABC nutrition app. At mission end, the crew discussed reintegration and strategies for reengaging in our personal and professional lives when the mission concluded.

Jas Purewal (XO/SCI)

The emotion study surveys have been submitted and will be analysed post mission. QI of the use of the PARO therapeutic robot for mitigating feelings of stress and isolation was completed and will be extremely useful in supporting research on future analog missions.

Training of VR first aid was completed successfully. Three splinting scenarios were carried out by each crew member.

Emergency rescue scenarios were conducted and the crew’s response was very good. Many lessons were learned.

Elizabeth Balga (HSO)

Orchestrated multiple emergency scenarios (including habitat- and EVA-based) with XO to observe crew application of knowledge from VR first aid training, adherence to station and EVA protocols, team problem solving, and overall emergency response. Following each exercise, the crew participated in debrief sessions where several lessons learned were captured.

Supported and maintained crew health and safety throughout the mission, including several minor ailments and injuries. Evaluated the research station for health and safety strengths and weaknesses and compiled a list of opportunities for improvement, including gaps in medical equipment and training.

Evaluated both the one-piece and two-piece spacesuits during EVAs (during field operations, rover usage, etc.) to identify strengths and weaknesses for each and inform future EVA spacesuit and tool design choices, as well as protocols and procedures.

Captured photo and video footage from around the habitat, during suit up, and during EVAs to use in future outreach presentations.

Caitlyn Hubric (BIO/GreenHab)

Sample Collection

I brought 50 falcon tubes with me and I am leaving with 50 unique samples. I have included a table below that shows the sample type and the quantity as well as the different regions I explored and the quantity.

Totals

Lichen

11

White Rock Canyon (WRC)

19

Plants

14

The Peanut (P)

6

Root Soil

8

The Overlook (OL)

3

Regolith

9

Sea of Shells (SOS)

6

Ice

4

Cowboy Corner (CBC)

7

Mud From Next to Ice

1

Special Region (SR)

9

Small Pebbles From Hill Formation

1

Total

50

Wet Dirt From Shaded Hole

1

Old Water Reservoir Wall

1

Total

50

I collected Lichens because they are able to survive in rocky regolith-like conditions and I would like to study them further as this might help us in our future efforts to use resources already present on Mars, like the regolith.

I collected small samples from different plants I found growing in regolith-like conditions. I collected branches, leaves, and when possible, flowers. I also collected samples of soil from around the roots of different plants. I am going to inspect these samples and attempt to find and isolate microbial life, if any, that I find. I hope to find a microorganism that helps promote plant growth and/or water stress tolerance in these desert conditions.

I have collected different samples of regolith from multiple different locations. I plan to test the pH and NPK values of these samples and compare them to regular dirt and the simulated Martian regolith I work with from the exolith lab (MGS-1 Regolith Simulant).

I will be traveling with these samples back to my lab and using the equipment there to continue my assessment of these samples.

Decomposition Research

I set up 3 different compositions of substrate for my decomposition study. In method 1, I combined wood pellets, brown rice, dead edible plants, and grain spawn. For method 2, I combined wood pellets, dead edible plants, the roots and dirt surrounding the roots of the dead plants, and grain spawn. For method 3, I collected organic waste generated by the crew for the first 5 days of the mission and liquid spawn. The organic waste included coffee grinds, leftover bread/breadcrumbs, cardboard, and other inedible food waste.

All 3 of my methods were successful in decomposition but unsuccessful in generating food for the crew. Around day 9, I saw the presence of contamination which is very common in mushroom farming. The contamination was a green mold, which I have battled in my research back in my lab and commercial growers battle regularly. This mold doesn’t completely stop the fungi from decomposing, as I saw here, but the presence of mold means any mushrooms grown cannot be guaranteed to be safe for human consumption. Once you are able to see the contamination with your eyes it is usually not saveable, so I decided to let it grow and continue monitoring it. In my method 3 that had organic waste, the fungi and mold worked together and are still decomposing, but will likely not make it to the fruiting phase. In a colony setting, this wouldn’t be a complete loss. You could allow the two organisms to continue decomposing and then sterilize it at the end and still use it as a fertilizer/additive to your soil.

The speed at which my fungi began to colonize the substrate leads me to believe that edible decomposers can be a valuable addition to a colony’s greenhouse for multiple reasons. Not only can they generate food for a crew at a faster rate in comparison to fruits and vegetables, but they can also decompose matter and generate a compost/fertilizer blend to add to your greenhouse soil.

Judith Marcos (ENGR)

I have conducted a variety of tests in order to find failure in the design of the prototype Anchor Pleiades. This knowledge will allow my team to improve the design and repeat the engineering design process.

First, I collected a variety of 20 rock samples collected from Hab Ridge and the Intersection of Cow Dung Rd and Brahe Hwy on MDRS. The samples were cataloged by its variety in shape, texture and mass for a carry capacity test. While conducting the test it was found that Pleiades was limited by the size of the sample. This prototype is limited to a size range for sample collecting as well as depending on the angle it was collected from.

Then, after being taken in similar geographical terrain such as Mars, three different failures were identified. While in a sim and using a flight suit, helmet and gloves one becomes limited in vision, movement and loses the easy fluidness of movement. Outside of the Hab, it was identified that the prototype was harder to manage than first anticipated. A variety of small details on the prototype were too small to be fixed with gloves on if needed, as well as it was difficult to hold and certain aspects are too fragile to be managed in an external terrain.

As well as being outside, I was able to achieve visual confirmation that the prototype could be affected by external debris as suspected. Being affected by the debris means that over time there will be a loss in function of mobility, usefulness and wear and tear of the material used.

Finally for the prototype, many individual design factors were identified that could definitely be improved. For example: The head of the prototype has no area to grip the anchor with ease, the handle used to lower and lift is too fragile and thin for external use, the bolts used to re/disassemble are too small for use with gloves, the main rod frame is too long depending on the sample being extracted.

Izabela Shopova (COMM)

I was successful in developing a simplified, error proof process for daily yogurt making at MDRS, using lactobacillus bulgaricus (chosen for its benefits for the digestive and immune systems). We had freshly made yogurt daily, served to the crew in a variety of food recipes. I used the powdered milk and kitchen utensils already available at MDRS, which demonstrates the feasibility of making the homemade yogurt part of the analog astronauts’ diet. I also demonstrated to the crew the simplicity of the process and we had a discussion on the health benefits of yogurt consumption. In addition I grew broccoli and radishes sprouts and we harvested them in week two of the mission. They added fiber, vitamins and sulforaphane to the analog astronauts’ diet. The crew filled questionnaires, evaluating the quality of the yogurt, its ease of preparation and suitability for analog astronauts missions, which will add to the great body of data that is already available in the research of gut health and health benefits of lactobacteria.

During the mission I gathered enough knowledge and information about campus operations, EVAs and life at MDRS, which will be included in the pre-mission and mission orientation training modules for analog astronauts, to be completed, tested and presented to Mars Society for approval in the next two months.

I completed a video response to the more than 30 questions from school children from the Bulgarian Space Academy. They were all about Mars, space exploration, mars colonisation and the analog astronauts life and work. It will be presented to the Space Academy next week together with a tutorial on planet Mars and the latest development in Mars exploration.

Throughout the mission I maintained a personal diary, capturing my personal experience and shared thoughts of my crew, to be included in the book I am working on, that will highlight the importance of the analog habitats and simulations for the space exploration and future human colonization of Mars and the Moon.

Commander Report – November 25th

Sol: 12
Summary Title: Mission End
Author’s name: Dr. Jenni Hesterman, Commander
Mission Status: Nominal
Commander Report:

Sadly, our time at MDRS has come to an end. The crew cleaned the station, accomplished final checklists and broke simulation at 2PM. We then left the airlock without our spacesuits for the first time in 12 days to take group photos. It was exhilarating to breathe fresh air and feel the sun on our faces!

We enjoyed a wonderful dinner in Hanksville this evening with Dr. Rupert and Sergii, and returned to the Hab to prepare for our morning departure to Grand Junction.

Crew 268 successfully accomplished its mission. We enjoyed exploring the stunning Mars-like landscape, incredibly rich sunrises and sunsets, and a star-filled sky at night. We hope our research activities will inform future space missions and will continue pursuing our dreams of living and working on another planet.

Sol Summary – November 24th

Sol: 11
Summary Title: The final countdown
Author’s name: Jas Purewal
Mission Status: Nominal
Sol Activity Summary:
EVA at 10:30 to the Special Region. Several samples were collected on behalf of the crew Biologist. Biologists analyzed samples. Adjourning phase training.
Look Ahead Plan: Final day of sim. Cleaning in the morning. Breaking sim at 2pm.
Anomalies in work: None
Weather: Rather nice. Sunny, clear. No rain.
Crew Physical Status: Good.
EVA: XO, CDR took Spirit and Curiosity to The Special Region to search for biological samples. Several samples were collected.
Reports to be filed:
Commander’s report
GreenHab
EVA report
EVA request
Operations report
Sol Summary report
Journalist report

Support Requested: none