Person filling out the report: Roy Naor
Crew members involved in the EVA: Roy Naor, Richard Blake, Idriss sissaid
EVA leader: Roy Naor
End: 04:38 pm
Type of EVA: Phobos, ATV 300, ATV 350+Walking
Purpose: Carbonate prospecting and sampling in the salt wash member and Sumervile Formation
UTM Coordinates: Northing : 4251500 Easting : 519000 Zone : 12 S
Summary: We recommend having more detailed topografic maps 1:50,000 scale or lower in order to do proper geological/biological work. It is very weird to work without a map.We will try to make do with the ones that we were given for now.
I looked for concreations but found only cemented sand stones.
We walked the Candor Chasma from the main road to the sharp river bend after Tree Gate.
Greetings from Crew 173! We are a crew of five (for now, our 6th crewmate, Arnau Pons Lorente, a Spanish Aeronautical Engineer will be with us soon, but not for now)- our Commander Michaela Musilova from Slovakia, Executive Officer Idriss Sisaid from France, HSO Roy Naor from Israel, GreenHab Officer Rick Blake from Australia, and then my good self, Niamh (pronounced ‘Neeve’ by the way- its Gaelic, and a girl’s name) Shaw your Irish Crew journalist.
We arrived yesterday afternoon to a lovely warm welcome from Crew 172 and their commander Ilaria. After our group photo outside the Hab, Ilaria and her crew gave us an extensive training session (Crew Engineer, Troy was especially awesome with his 3hrs of ‘Hab Top Tips’, thank you Troy!). Patrick cooked up a lovely meal of curried rice and vegetables and we shared with them a toast of sparkling apple juice in their ceremonial bowls in honour of the completion of their mission. We all bedded down for the night and while it was pretty snug, we had a reasonably good nights sleep on the communal area floor (well, for those of us on the inflatable beds that didn’t deflate anyway!).
At 7.30am on Sol 0, we waved goodbye to Crew 172 and we began our time on Mars in earnest. The last thing Ilaria said to us was that our toilet had become blocked overnight. Little did we know in that moment the impact those words would have on our first day here.
It rained quite heavily overnight, so the terrain outside is very muddy and we were confined to indoor duties for the day. After unpacking food supplies and selecting our state room, we had our first breakfast of oatmeal, Cheerios, and dried apple, washed down with an assortment of tea, coffee and for some, nutritious servings of Tang. We worked on our cooking and cleaning schedule for the mission, which includes Pancake breakfast duties (for special days including my Dad’s birthday tomorrow, Roys mothers birthday on the 24th and Australia Day on the 26th) and preparing special meals of our countries on alternate evenings (we’re calling these Culture dinners).
And we began to tackle our first major objective of the mission- getting the toilet unblocked.
I made a somewhat successful lunch (a hearty serving of gumbo and brown rice) and afterwards Shannon arrived to take us through additional training. She informed us that due to the inclement weather, we will have our ATV and Rover training Tuesday, if all goes well. And then we talked a lot about the plumbing problems and the various permutations and combinations of flushing and plunging and other alternatives.
Roy and Idriss ventured outside and pumped the remaining water in to the main water reservoir, emptying both tanks on the trailer. As I write this, they are recounting enthusiastically their adventures in learning how to use the pump (without electrocuting themselves) and acclimatising to the cold and wet muddy weather. It was a big moment for them, for they claim that their relationship was found in that moment working together on this new daily task.
Our plumbing problems continued throughout the day and Roy (who has worked as a plumber in his native Israel) assessed the septic tank with Shannon and concluded that the issue with the toilet is attributable to a full septic tank rather than an ‘at source’ problem. And so we ceased our incessant flushing and plunging. We agreed for the foreseeable future, to poop in plastic bags and disposing of the biohazards material in a dedicated refuse sack (to be burnt at a later date when the rain stops and the plumbing problem has been resolved). We discussed other methodologies. It was an extensive discussion but believe that we have found the optimum solution, given the circumstances.
Idriss and Roy worked on setting up the 3d printer, but discovered that the filament spools didn’t work. They then tried to heat up the extruder to force the filament to go out, but the filament remains clogged in the printer. They are currently working on solution.
We are still figuring out how to optimise our limited toilet options. Trial and error is the general consensus.
Rick monitored hourly temperatures of the GreenHab, outside, the lower floor of the Hab and the grow tent in the greenHab. He also took an inventory of our spices. He’s also on dinner duty, he’s baking bread. Its looking very promising and may inherit the title ‘The Breadmaker’ if successful. Michaela re-planted her spinach seeds in the bespoke apparatus she has brought, designed by her students in Slovakia.
Our first CAPCOM is imminent and we are looking forward to an evening of settling in to our new home for the next 2 weeks on Mars as our plumbing problems continues.
Crew 173 signing off.
Commander’s report Sol 0
My heart started racing as we were driving through the red Martian landscape. I was re-living the excitement of arriving on Mars the first time. My mind kept being flooded by flashbacks of my first journey to the Red Planet. No surprise, as my whole journey this time was a „deja vue“ of the previous time: my space shuttles kept on being delayed, I got stranded in the space city of Denver for hours after hours, only to be told just before midnight that there will be no more flights that day. As in 2014, I had to overnight in a foreign, very cold space city, before resuming my journey the next day, desperately hoping to reach Mars finally.
This time, however, I was not alone. My crew 173’s geologist and health and safety officer, Roy, was stranded in Denver as well. Upon arrival on Mars, we both laughed that the mere couple of hours of sleep we got were worth the amazing views we had from the shuttle flying over the Martian mountains in the morning. Indeed, even though I got a grand total of 8 hours of sleep over 3 days, I could not take my eyes away from the shuttle window and drool over the spectacular landscape.
Not even my illness could dampen my spirits. Ironically, I also had a cold last time I travelled to Mars and I was in a similar sleep-deprived physical state. The coincidences between my two trips to Mars seemed almost surreal. They kept making me think of my previous mission with crew 134 and what a great time we had on Mars together. I became nostalgic: “it’s not going to be the same”, I thought. We were such a great crew and we had so much fun together. It felt like I was returning home, but with a different family. As I entered the MDRS Habitat, I could not help myself but release a sigh. I kept seeing the different funny moments we had together before my eyes. Their ghosts waved at me from their rooms and I longed for another shared meal or EVA together with crew 134.
While I admit my heart sank a bit with nostalgia, my state of mind instantly changed to excitement as I came back to reality. My crew on this new mission is made up of an amazing group of people. We have been working together for the past 1.5 years to get the most out of this mission and to make it be as fulfilling as possible for all of us. Most of us met at the International Space University’s Space Studies Program in 2015 and we have been great friends since. I have been really looking forward to spending this time together.
Though we arrived on Mars only yesterday, I have already been laughing my head off regularly with my crew. I also really enjoy that I’m not the only one getting carried away with admiration over the Martian landscape, geology and potential biology. I was the crew astrobiologist and geologist of crew 134, so I could not really share my excitement over the science of this wonderful environment with anyone. On the contrary, it was often used as something to tease me about. And now we have a geologist and another astrobiologist on the crew. We can “drool” together during our mission, just like Roy and I did when flying over the gorgeous mountains together from Denver 😉
The best bonding experience to start our mission with was a particularly funny, though quite crude, operation nick-named „poopgate“ 😀 Our Martian toilet got clogged today upon the departure of crew 172 and we have spent the whole day trying to solve this issue. I would never have thought that a toilet could be such an important element for the colonisation of Mars. Luckily enough, my crew is very creative and we came up with a myriad of original ways of troubleshooting the problem. There is not a better ice breaker than discussing the appropriate configurations to
do one’s business in these circumstances. We all cried with laughter when Roy and Niamh, our crew artist and journalist, demonstrated their special methods to the crew. The cherry on top of the cake was Roy pulling off a yoga type move and shouting: „look, no hands“! I haven’t laughed so much in ages 😀
We would also like to thank crew 172 for a great collaboration pre-mission and for a very nice welcome on Mars yesterday. We wish them very safe travels back to Earth and we hope to work with them again in the future, whether on Earth or on Mars.
Stay tuned for more news from Mars – hopefully with a less “sh*tty” update 😉
15/01/17 – Richard Blake
Took command of the GreenHab, going through the inventory and taking stock of the current plantings. All growth is currently confined to the lower section of the Hab, utilising a grow light scavenged from the grow tent in the GreenHab. The GreenHab itself currently gets too cold overnight for plants to survive as the heater is non-functioning, hopefully it will be fixed on Tuesday. Seedlings are growing well in the main Hab, thanks to the GreenHab officer from crew 172. Lettuce, onion, and what appear to be some bean seedlings are all growing well.
I have planted half a tray with basil seeds and the other half with chard (what is chard? Is it an American word for a kind of spinach? Silverbeet?). If they are still viable they should start to sprout within a few days.
I have also begun logging the temperatures of the main Hab, the GreenHab, the grow tent within the GreenHab as well as outside. These measurements were taken every hour, on the hour, and plotted in a graph of temperature over time.
Helped to set up Michaela’s spinach seedling experiment. I repaired the stand the seedlings are designed to grow on while she transferred the sprouting spinach seeds officer to wet cotton wool in petri dishes. They are now under a grow light where they should continue to germinate.
Attached: photo of existing seedlings,
photo of newly planted seeds and Michaela’s experiment, and,
a graph of the day-time temperature.