Commander Report – December 29th

Today we officially concluded our mission activities. While research efforts in the GreenHab had impediments, the process provided insight on potential future improvements to growing facilities at MDRS as well as complications that may occur on Mars. Data collection pertaining to the Astronaut Obstacle Avoidance project was successful, and results may provide implications about spacesuit design and the potential for built-in interfaces in future spacesuits. Tomorrow we plan to spend the sol cleaning the facilities and will spend all of Sol 13 training the next crew before departure on the morning of Sol 14.

The past couple of weeks have been quite an adventure for all of us. We’ve become close and are grateful for having been a part of such a compatible group dynamic. Each of us brought a unique perspective, personality, and set of skills to the crew. We all did our share in keeping the Hab organized and functional, supporting mission objectives, and keeping each other well fed and entertained. Our experience here has provoked thought on the complications involved in a manned mission to Mars, both technical and psychological. We are thankful for being given this opportunity, and will never forget our unique experience at MDRS.

A Sol Summary, Engineering Report, Science Report, and photos will follow.    

Ad Astra!

Alison Gibson

Commander, MDRS Crew 171 (SEDS)

Crew Photos – December 28th

Commander Gibson remotely shuts off the inertial measurement unit which guinea pig Anselm has strapped to his head.
Commander Gibson’s walking course
The EVA team stopped by this interesting rock formation on their way back to the Hab.
The sediment layers in the chasm were beautiful to see.
Anselm and Brittany stand in front of Candor Chasm during their EVA
The EVA crew stops to enjoy the view mid-journey.

Journalist Report – December 28th

Sol 10 Journalist Report
Authored by Anselm Wiercioch

We’re out of water. So there’s that.

We transferred the final dregs from the resupply drone (250L?) into our
primary tank and the drone left. That was a few days ago though and we
haven’t seen anything back. It shouldn’t take more than two days to
boop up to orbit, hit the big transport ships, and boop back down to
us. It’s fully automated and there aren’t many other places for it to
go. We should definitely get those microwaves and condensers up and
running ASAP though. They were supposed to be running when we got
here, but like a lot of things about this mission, got sidelined last
minute. We’re intended to run on tanks carried here instead, which
will never be a long term solution. Good thing our primary mission is
ending soon. None of us we’re expecting to return to Earth for sure,
but I can’t say the prospect is disappointing. We’ll see what happens.
We still have a few sources we could pull from for water and last long
enough for the resupply drone. Day by day.

On the bright side, Mars is gorgeous. The follow-up crew hit Candor
Chasma today and it was breathtaking. Grand Canyon got nothing on
Mars. Something about the rich colors and years of erosion by dust
storms mixed with the desolate, frozen geology is awe inspiring. Like
the ruins of a long dead but once great civilization. It’s kind of
creepy too, because you can tell it was the kind of civilization that
fixed all our technological issues and got past all the social divides
we’re stuck on and somehow still got wiped out. Desolate doesn’t begin
to describe it. As nice as going back would be. There’s so much to do
here and so much to see and millions of people may never see any of
this. Just seems like a bit of a waste.

We also tested out Commander Gibson’s research project and helped
gather some data for an augmented reality obstacle avoidance system.
Would be really nice to have sometimes. These helmets are absolutely
horrible to hike in. Once the soil gets muddy or soft, you’re done
for. Add it to the list of improvements. That’s why we’re here though,
right? To take a great chance and figure out how to make things easier
for the next crews and generations.

Hab life is good. Things are becoming routine now. People are
generally not going insane or injuring themselves too severely, so
that’s good. We’ve got an overall mission report coming up soon so I
won’t go into things too much here. We are starting to feel the
isolation though. I suppose it’s a good thing that it took this long,
but it’s a curious feeling. These five people are our family now –
very possible the folks we’ll grow old and die with. Our Martian
Elysium is insanely beautiful, but also very empty. A planet
inhabited, other than us, entirely by robots. Other crews will come in
time, but not within easy visiting range, and after the first few,
they’ll stop sticking around. No guarantees when that will be though
or whether one of those shuttles will have room for us. We might never
see anyone again solely because the wrong politician gets into office
and the program drops funding. Humans are weird like that.


Daily Summary Report – December 28th

SOL: 10
Person filling out Report: Anselm Wiercioch, XO
Summary Title: Final Countdown
Mission Status: Working in final EVAs
Sol Activity Summary: Candor Chasma EVA, Spacesuit testing
Look Ahead Plan: EVA to Lunar Plains
Anomalies in work: Out of water
Weather: High 43F, Low 12F, Humidity 35-67%, Wing avg 1.1mph, Gust 2.5mph, Sunny
Crew Physical Status: Functional but feeling the isolation
EVA: Follow up to Candor Chasma
Reports to be filed:
– Sol Summary
– Journalist’s Report
– Science Reports
– 6-8 Photos
– EVA Plan
– Operations Report
Support Requested
– None

Science Report – December 28th

Geology/Mars Climate Report 28122016:

The astrophotography exposure from last night turned out alright with
one of the time-lapse cameras. I put that camera over the mound just
West of the HAB to look at some stream channels flowing down the side
of a few hills.

My other camera is still looking at the HAB and the surrounding
mounds. It does not look like we will receive any more rain for the
rest of our mission. This doesn’t concern me too much as I can also
use this data to visually analyze the shape of these stream patterns,
even in their dry state.

One interesting aspect of the geology of Mars in regard to the first
human mission is landing site selection. Strategically, selecting a
location for the HAB and the power generators will be critical. An
enclave that provides protection from sandstorms but still has plenty
of sunlight for solar panels could work. There are many other factors
to consider: access to ice/water, geologically interesting features
and some protection from cosmic and solar radiation. With the thin
atmosphere and extremely weak magnetic field, electronics and power
supplied will need to be shielded or located underground.

The poles present abundant ice deposits at the surface but the frigid
temperatures will require more fuel and energy to sustain human life.
The Second Law of Thermodynamics is a menace.  Latitude is also a
factor. Many of the landers and rovers that have been to Mars are
located at the mid-latitudes. The pros and cons of every possible
landing site must be weighed.

Max/Min: Outdoor Temp – 12 F – 43 F
Outdoor Humidity – 35% – 67%
GreenHab Temp – 22 F – 94 F
GreenHAB Humidity – 10% – 35%
Barometer – 29.67 – 29.87 inHg
Wind – 1.1 mph, gust – 2.5 mph
Solar Rad. Max – 399.8 W/m^2
UV Index – 777 uW/cm^2
Dew Point – 2.5 F – 19.6 F
Recorded Precipitation today – 0.00 in

Final Sleep Study Report:

The crew’s sleep schedule is pretty much aligned at this point.
Geoffrey consistently wakes up first and starts doing work in the
kitchen. I usually wake up second and then the rest of the crew. I
think many people are sleeping in such a way that they are awake from
around 2-5 am to take advantage of the free internet. Overall,
everyone seems to be very productive. A couple of the crew members
take naps during the afternoon hours in order to stay rested. I think
that plenty of sleep is critical to work output. On Mars there could
be a plethora of other factors to consider with sleep. How does sleep
change with different levels of oxygen, carbon dioxide and nitrogen in
the atmosphere? Also, how does the reduced gravity affect sleep
patterns in the brain, if any? We’ll need to eventually find these
things out.


Submitted by Connor Lynch – Crew Geologist/Astrophysicist

Crew Photos – December 27th

Sean thins radish plants.


Sunrise on Mars.


Ancient drainage patterns on surface of Mars where water once flowed.


Connor sews a mission patch onto his new flight suit.

GreenHab Report – December 27th

Today we have deemed efforts to utilize the GreenHab
officially ineffectual; nevertheless, the day proved to be productive
for the growth of our Martian cultivars within the crew quarters.
Radishes, mystery crop (which we are beginning to believe is
Turmeric), Red Oak lettuce and Green Oak lettuce varieties have been
thinned and planted into canopy density experimental setups.  The
plant conveyor research continues, although rather languidly.   All
experiments using soil are duplicated using a hydroponic testbed for
future evaluation of the similitude of plant growth properties with
respect to nutrient medium.

Brittany Zimmerman
GreenHab Officer
Crew 171

Science Report – December 27th

Geology/Mars Climate Report

The weather for the rest of the week looks pretty consistent with minimal wind and sun. Erosion features can be seen in the hills near the HAB. This time-lapse photography comes in handy here on “Mars” because we can use this analogue Mars terrain to study how the ancient geologic features could have formed on Mars. Melting snow and ice along with precipitation could have caused these features we see on Mars. The debate that still rages with planetary scientists and climatologists is: was the ancient climate of Mars “warm and wet” as opposed to today’s “cold and icy” climate? Where was ice distributed? The obliquity of the planet (the spin axis) may have been drastically different and thus the ice may have migrated over time.

Instead of having to go down to the McMurdo Dry Valleys in Antarctica to study these processes on Earth, we can study them here in this Mars-like environment to get a better understand of them. This in turn will tell us about the ancient climate of Mars and how it has evolved over time to the present day.

Max/Min: Outdoor Temp – 11 F – 38 F

Outdoor Humidity – 30% – 62%

GreenHab Temp – 21 F – 91 F

GreenHAB Humidity – 18% – 30%

Barometer – 29.75 – 29.94 inHg

Wind – 3.5 mph, gust – 4.5 mph

Solar Rad. Max – 385.2 W/m^2

UV Index – 743 uW/cm^2

Recorded Precipitation today – 0.00 in

We know the atmospheric pressure at “sea level” on Mars is around 0.6% the pressure on Earth. This would mean that a 50 mph breeze on Mars would hardly be noticeable and that the beginning of the movie The Martian is inaccurate. It would take winds of unimaginable strength to knock a rocket over like that.

Since Mars is around 1.5X further from the sun the incident solar radiation would be around 2.25X reduced if we neglect the atmospheres (r^2 dependence for solar flux). However, the Martian atmosphere is much thinner and is of a different composition, so we’re not totally in the hole. This will bode well for solar panels on the surface but the atmosphere will have a different absorption pattern than Earth’s.

Submitted by Connor Lynch – Crew Geologist/Astrophysicist

Daily Summary Report – December 27th

SOL 09

Person filling out Report: Anselm Wiercioch, XO

Summary Title: 70% of the way there

Mission Status: Ramping up for science

Sol Activity Summary: Lot of green hab work, staying inside

Look Ahead Plan: EVA to Candor Chasma, Commander’s data acquisition

Anomalies in work: Many martian visitors driving around

Weather: High 38F, low 11F, Humidity 30-62%, wind avg 3.5mph, gust

4.5mph, clear skies and sunny

Crew Physical Status: Fully functional

EVA: Postponed due to martian traffic

Reports to be filed:
– Sol Summary
– Journalist Report
– Science Reports
– 6-8 Photos
– EVA Plan
– Operations Report

Support Requested
– None

Crew Photos – December 26th

Crew Biologist Sean turned 26 on Mars today and was treated to colorful decorations and a feast of desserts.


Terribly chasm-like.
Connor points majestically at the horizon.
Chief Scientist Connor prepares to place a time-lapse camera during an EVA
Beautiful scenery along this convenient Martian road. Mars would make an excellent rally stage.
The EVA heads for a nearby chasm.
The EVA crew pauses for a photo at the edge of the chasm.
Exploring the chasm on foot.
Beautiful scenery along this convenient Martian road. Mars would make an excellent rally stage.