Sol Summary – December 22nd

Daily Summary Report
SOL: 04
Person filling out Report: Anselm Wiercioch, XO
Summary Title: Snowday
Mission Status: Active. Full crew functional.
Sol Activity Summary: Snow on ground, greenhouse work continues, EVA postponed
Look Ahead Plan: EVA tomorrow to follow up on initial Quarry recon
Anomalies in work: Nothing
Weather: High 35F, Low 29F, wind avg 1.5mpg, gust N/A, humidity
35-98%, grey cloudy skies
Crew Physical Status: Slightly stir crazy, but ok.
EVA: Postponed until tomorrow
Reports to be filed:
– Sol Summary
– Journalist’s Report
– Science Reports
– 6-8 Photos
– EVA Plan
– Operations Report
Support Requested
– None

Science Report – December 21st

Mars Self Sleep Report Study/Crew Well being:

Last night I tried to get up at 2 am but was not able to do work for
long before going back to sleep. I know our plan was to only sleep for
three hours at night and nap during the day but we found that the
first few days of adjusting to this process are the worst. Almost as
bad as flying to Europe or Asia through may time zones and adjusting.

We want to raise awareness of the time differences for a Mars mission
compared to living on Earth. How will the greater than 24 hr day on
Mars translate to astronauts work and sleep patterns? Obviously on
Mars, astronauts will be working and fixing things every minute while
they are awake. We want to see how we can maximize astronauts’

As a crew we are going to try and go to sleep earlier one night and
start our day by 6 am instead of 8 am like we usually do to see how
this improves or reduces productivity.

The crew seems to be in great spirits doing their work and surviving
here on Mars. Cannot wait to see what SOL 4-13 bring!!

Crew Photos – December 21st

The EVA team departs
Sean inspects plants as darkness falls in the GreenHab
GreenHab officers Brittany and Sean tend to some lettuce plants
Brittany waters some new transplants
Connor takes a selfie as the EVA crew prepares to leave
Anselm prepares to release Bernie the pack rat into the
wild. Be free, Bernie!!
Connor and Alison get into the spirit of the EVA
Connor, Alison, and Anselm pose during the EVA

Commander Report – December 21st

Alison Gibson
Commander Report
21 Dec 2016 – Sol 3

Mission Support,

We’ve been on Mars for 3 sols now, and are forming a strong crew
dynamic. Everyone is doing their best to ensure a productive and
successful mission. Three of us went on an EVA today (Connor, Anselm,
and myself) out to the Dinosaur Quarry to explore the area and get
comfortable on the rovers while suited up. It’s been a cold and cloudy
day, so the ride out and back was frigid. On our way out to the
quarry, we set our pack rat (Bernie) free in the middle of the Martian
desert. After returning, we all ate lunch together and discussed our
plans for baking holiday treats this weekend.

We are generally staying warm and hydrated; although, while the
facility issues have been addressed, we are disappointed with the
internet access. Many of us were relying on internet access to
complete tasks during our mission, and I personally need wi-fi to
complete my research project. We cannot receive email or even navigate
to a page on a browser about 90% of the time. This has made evening
communications with CapComm, Mission Support, and Shannon Rupert very
difficult. We also cannot track our package of mission patches or
flight suits without the internet. Due to access settings put in place
by the previous Crew Commander, we cannot utilize the other two
routers at all. We’ve been monitoring our bandwidth, have turned off
all Bluetooth devices, taken turns using our computers, and reset the
router numerous times. Nothing has helped. This issue is causing
seriously impediments to our mission goals, and we hope there is a way
to resolve it with the help of Mission Support.

A Sol Summary, Engineering Report, HSO Report, Science Report, and
photos will follow. There is also an EVA Request for Sol 4.

Thank you for the weather report and your support.

Respectfully submitted,

Alison Gibson
Commander, MDRS Crew 171

Sol Summary – December 21st

SOL: 03
Person filling out Report: Anselm Wiercioch, XO
Summary Title: Longer EVA, beginning greenhab setup
Mission Status: Active. Full crew functional.
Sol Activity Summary: EVA’d to Dinosaur Quarry, set up first conveyor
stage in greenhab, planted first 12 plants.
Look Ahead Plan: EVA tomorrow to follow up on initial Quarry recon
Anomalies in work: back side of helmet cracked slightly on rock.
Repaired with superglue and zip ties. Not majorly concerning, but
helmet henceforth moved to reserve use only.
Weather: High 42F, Low 18F,  wind avg 3.5mph, gust N/A, humidity
17-41%, grey cloudy skies
Crew Physical Status: Slightly stir crazy, but ok.
EVA: Anselm, Geoff, and Alison to Dinosaur Quarry
Reports to be filed:
– Sol Summary
– Commander’s Report
– Science Reports
– 6-8 Photos
– EVA Plan
– Operations Report
Support Requested:
– Wifi still intermittent.

GreenHab Report – December 21st

Today began the transplantation of lettuce plants into the Greenhab!
We chose our heartiest crop as the test cultivar for GreenHab
conditions.  Temperatures have seemed to normalize but today was
completely cloud-covered and therefore hostile conditions may return
with the sun.  We are leveraging differences in soil and hydroponic
systems in order to compare which growing systems may have advantages
in an analog Martian habitat. Conveyor plant stages were setup for Red
Oak Lettuce today.  Eight developmental stages will be present by the
end of the mission. Six were carefully separated from the Rockwool in
order to minimize root damage and planted into equal volumes of wet
soil.  The hydroponic setup involved creating a hydroponic solution
suitable for the broad range of plant life stages present in the
conveyor experiment.  This involved starting with tap water and first
adding a nutrient solution to get the electrical conductivity (EC) to
an appropriate level.  This brought the EC to about 1.9 mS/cm.  The
next step was to lower the pH to a slightly basic value.  After
calibrating the sensor, the pH was reading 6.06 which was well within
the acceptable range.  If all goes well, Green Oak Lettuce and other
cultivars will be transplanted tomorrow.

Science Report – December 21st

Geology :
Today on our EVA we observed many interesting rock outcroppings and
geologic formations. It is easy to see the stratified rock layers in
exposed hillsides and cliffs. I moved the main weather station here at
the HAB from the roof to ground level outside the HAB. The reason for
this was that on the roof some of the heat from inside was affecting
the temperature measurements. On the next EVA that I go on I plan to
put another camera in a location of geologic interest (to be
determined) as well as collect the video data from the time-lapse
camera that has been sitting near the Hab for a couple days now. This
camera will have daytime geology data as well as star exposure.
Tomorrow it may snow here so I may give a camera to tomorrow’s EVA
team to set up outside somewhere.

I plan to move the weather station inside the GreenHAB within the next
couple days so that I can gather accurate weather data first. We want
to eventually move it into the GreenHAB in order to use the solar
sensor to measure solar flux in the Green HAB compared to outside.

The last time-lapse camera still sits inside the GreenHAB to monitor
progress there.

Max/Min: Outdoor Temp – 18 F – 42 F
GreenHab Temp – 47 F – 73 F
Barometer – 29.81 – 29.87 inHg
Wind – 3.5 mph, gust – N/A mph
Solar Rad. Max – 201.7 W/m^2
UV Index – 576 uW/cm^2
Outdoor Humidity – 17% – 41%

Crew Photos – December 20th

Bernie the Pack Rat


Brittany helps Alison Suit Up


Brittany hold her crew members’ shadows on Lower Blue Hill


EVA Team 2


Jumping for Joy


Overlooking the Hab


Anselm and Alison Adventure


EVA Team 1

Journalist’s Report – December 20th

Authored by Anselm Wiercioch

We put together a schedule yesterday, but it may take some time to get
on that sleep schedule. We all woke up about an hour late today.
Fortunately, we didn’t have anything super time sensitive on the
agenda so we just shifted everything back an hour. Good to go.

Everyone handled their own breakfast and we had a morning briefing
around 11am. We decided to prioritize an EVA as soon as possible after
landing and ensuring basic resources were available in order to assess
the situation. The hab lands automatically and there haven’t been any
mishaps since the early moon colonization days, but it never hurts to
check. Most of our systems showed nominal by last night, so our
briefing this morning mostly revolved around prepping for that

Around 11:45, the first EVA crew was suited up and ready to roll out.
The suits took some adjustment to get everyone fitted, but even at
their best they were heavy and awkward. The suits are thickly
insulated and restrictive (not that I’m complaining, freezing isn’t
fun), and the helmets cut your field of view to about 60 degrees
vertical and 90 horizontal. Functional, but it takes some getting used
to. Our commander has some vibrating-boot-augmented-reality system
that’s supposed to identify obstacles so that you can keep your head
up. After wandering around in these suits a bit, I think a system like
that could be pretty handy. Guess we’ll find out later this week. At
noon the three of us (Commander Gibson, Geoffrey, and myself.) entered
the main airlock. The hab crew walked through the depressurization
proceedures while the three of us walked through our own mental
depressurizations. A few seconds later the outer door opened and we
stepped onto the surface of an entirely new planet.

You’re supposed to have some deep, meaningful message to drop at this
point. Something short but poignant. “One small step for man” and all
that jazz.

We were more focused on not dying. The suits (uncomfortable as they
are) are designed to keep us warm and alive and oxygenated, but it’s
one thing to read the spec sheet and another to put your life on the
line testing them in an environment you’ve never seen before. An
environment nobody has ever seen before with their naked eyes. It’s
beautiful. The landscape isn’t much crazier than the Utah desert, but
there’s something immensely humbling about seeing it. It’s hard to
describe. We’re further away from earth than anyone has ever been. And
we’re going for a hike.

We’re not nearly poetic enough for this. What we are though, is alive.
We looked over our own and each other’s suits and we ran all typical
system checks and everything looks good. We sent a plan to CAPCOM that
we’d be circling the hab at a half mile radius, and there’s a hill to
the north that offers a good vantage point, so we head that direction.
Once we reach the top of the hill, the land plateaus for a solid mile
or two before hitting some steeper hills. Looking back, the hab
appears well settled. Nothing unexpected. The landing algortihms did
their job perfectly and everything was in place before we woke up.

The landscape is mostly soft dusty hills with clay and rock
interspersed. Rolling hills suround the hab (the site was carefully
selected to avoid dust storms and provide the best landing
opportunities) but off in the distance there are many plateaus and
further away, snow capped mountains. The thin atmosphere makes the
limited color spectrum pop vividly. Rich reds and browns dominate, but
there are streaks of purple and grey and blue interspersed and they
break things up nicely. The sky is gray and dull, but not cloudy.
Just.. flat. It sounds sad, but it’s not. It’s a warm, comforting
gray, and it makes the surface feel even richer.

We take some recon photos to compare to our maps later, and we head
off to the north, following the ridgeline. After another half mile or
so, we run into a dry stream bed that runs back down to the desert
floor. We follow the stream as far as it goes and reach the ground.
Another five or ten minutes wandering yielded a broken chunk of solar
panel and an old, worn battery. Must’ve been from one of the ancient
rovers we sent, back in the day. Comforting to see another thing made
by our species, even if it’s been torn to shreds. Nothing useful
though. We’ve been out for about an hour now, so we head back toward
the hab and open coms for the other crew to prep the airlock for our

When we get back, we go through the motions, careful not to track dust
too far from the airlock. We strip our suits and help the second crew
get their packs on. We have water now, and even though mars is chilly,
our suits are warm and our packs are heavy. A shower is definitely on
the agenda. After we get the second group out the door and ensure
their systems are functional, we take turns manning the radio,
showering, and eating lunch. Canned spinach and salmon. Nice.

A nap and some basic reports later, the second crew returns. They
followed much the same path as us, and noted a lot of similar
observations. Double EVA was a success. Ok guys, our work here is
done. Good job. Let’s go home.


Not quite. Another day down and 13 to go. Let’s rock and roll.


Science Report – December 20th


Today’s work (Sol 2) was all about setup and preparation of the
equipment necessary for transplant of cultivars into the GreenHab.
The first task in this process was to review the temperature data from
the night of Sol 1 and determine if turning on the heater had the
desired effect of keeping the climate acceptable for plant growth.
While the hab remained above freezing all night (recorded low of 48 F)
we determined it was likely that the gradient effect was preventing
the warm air from getting down to the level of the temperature sensor.
Therefore, we installed a box fan above the cooler to help increase
the air circulation and hopefully reduce this gradient.  We also
experienced a high of 108.7 F at 12:17.  We are now manually using
both the heater and cooler for the coming days to try and maintain a
relatively constant temperature moving forward.  We are postponing the
move of plant from the hab to the GreenHab until tomorrow to ensure
acceptable temperature variation througout the day.  During EVA, we
evaluated the systems that are currently in the GreenHab and prepared
the equipment for the introduction of the plants tomorrow.  We also
turned the cooling fan on during the middle of the day again to help
regulate and equalize the temperature.  When the first group came back
from their EVA, Curtis & Co. was also at the hab and we were able to
have a very informative discussion with them about the plans for the
aquaponics system.  They will be back later in the week with necessary
equipment to help assist with that setup process as necessary.  The
last major accomplishment for us was the germination of several
species of seeds that will be moved into the GreenHab tomorrow.  These
species included Green Oak Lettuce, Red Oak Lettuce, Radish, Pinto
Bean, Kidney Bean, Popcorn, Carrot, Spinach, Onion and a mystery crop
whose seeds were discovered in the pantry upon our arrival into the
hab. Yay Mystery Crop!


Today I installed the weather station on the roof of the HAB with the
help of Crew Engineer Geoffrey Andrews. The weather station on the top
of the HAB will provide a good vantage point so that the solar
radiation sensor will be unobstructed. This data will be used by the
GreenHab scientists in order to quantify solar radiation changes
throughout the day. I plan on moving this weather station to the
GreenHab eventually to compare solar radiation levels.

One of the time-lapse cameras was placed in the GreenHab today to
record the progress in there throughout the duration of the mission.
Tomorrow I plan to install a time-lapse camera on our EVA at our final
destination to monitor the landscape.

Max/Min: Outdoor Temp – 10 F – 51 F

GreenHab Temp – 46 F – 108 F

Wind – 11.9 mph, gust – 12.3 mph

Solar Rad. Max – 592.7 W/m^2

UV Index – 3

Outdoor Humidity – 12% – 45%

Mars Self-Sleep Study:
Anselm, the crew journalist and I Connor have decided to embark on a
change of our sleep patterns in order to gauge the effects and
application to sleep patterns on Mars. We have decided we need more
time for work and a changed sleep pattern may help with this. Most
people sleep by getting 6-8 hours at night and being awake for 16-18
hours during the day. Instead of this pattern, Anselm and I have
decided to reduce our nightly chunk of sleep to 3-4 hours and two one
hour naps during the day. This will increase our overall awake time
during the day to 19 hr. I anticipate being tired the first day but
then adjusting quickly to this pattern.

Hopefully if this works and we become much more productive, we can
recommend these types of patterns for future astronauts. The Martian
day is a little over 24 hours and this has proven to mess up humans’
sleep cycles in certain tests. We want to explore alternative sleep

11-2 am sleep

(7 hr awake)

9-10 am nap

(6 hr awake)

4-5pm nap

(6 hr awake)