Sol Summary – December 20th

Daily Summary Report
SOL: 02
Person filling out Report: Anselm Wiercioch, XO
Summary Title: First Recon
Mission Status: Crew is alive and well
Sol Activity Summary: Received water refil, went on first EVA
Look Ahead Plan: Planning longer recon EVA tomorrow, considering
sealing water connection further.
Anomalies in work: None significant.
Weather: High 51F, Low 10F,  wind avg 11.9mph, gust 12.3mph, humidity
12-45%, clear and sunny skies.
Crew Physical Status: Less nervous, less thirsty. Generally OK.
EVA: Scouted local area around hab. Explored northwestern ridge and
stream to the north of hab.
Reports to be filed:
– Sol Summary
– Journalist/Commander’s Report
– Science Reports
– 6-8 Photos
– EVA Plan
– Operations Report
Support Requested:
– Will be keeping an eye on internet connectivity, but generally OK
for the time being.

Journalist’s Report – December 19th

Journalist’s Log – Sol 01

Waking up from cryo is strange, but after cycling a few hundred times in training, we’re all used to the feeling. Waking up from cryo and seeing the surface of another planet is not something you get used to.

We woke up slowly. All around the same time, but one by one. Not on much of a schedule yet. We’ll put that together after breakfast. Our emails are full of automated messages from CAPCOM. They know we’re “out cold” and aren’t expecting any response. Still, the crew works through their inboxes and we pass along a notification that we’ve successfully arrived and comms are functional.

We spent some time slogging through the ship’s stores (sorry, it’s the “hab” now, isn’t it..) and eventually decided on pancakes. We were supposed to save the mix for a special occasion, but collectively decided that hitting the surface aptly qualifies. Freeze dried blueberries are oddly comforting after almost 300 days of being freeze dried yourself.

At around 11am MST (Mars Standard Time, obviously) a local supply drone arrived with fresh water. Right on time – the ship/hab’s small in-flight tank was close to 6L. Not more than a day or two max with all of us active. The crew got the water system rerouted to pull from the station’s existing tank instead of the hab’s small in-flight tank and we successfully transfered a fresh supply over from the drone. As we would find out later in the day (only after a few showers and meals of course..) the drone malfunctioned and poked a hole in our supply line. Nothing was actively leaking, but next time we transfered water we’d have some issues. A short engineering exploration was conducted and we were able to retrofit the line to bypass the leak. We’re waiting for some adhesive to dry and will be testing the system tomorrow. Fingers crossed. Dehydrating within 3 days would not be a great start for the first people on the red planet.

We were also able to get the hot water heater and the greenhab heater started. After lunch, the hab is already starting to feel like home. I guess that’s a good sign. Going crazy would also not be a great start. The crew is getting along well. Obviously we’ve known each other and trained together for some time. Waking up from hibernation in a strange place that’s inherently running low on standard survival resources will put a strain on any relationship though. Christmas, New Year’s, and a Birthday should help to waylay any concerns there, at least for the meantime.

Anyways, our bandwidth is limted and there’s plenty of work to do still and some non-frozen sleep would be nice. More updates tomorrow. As it stands, we’re alive and warm and nothing is too broken.


Science Report – December 19th




A calibrated pH/EC sensor was located in the GreenHab.  Last night the temperature in the GreenHab was monitored and dropped to approximately 19F which would be detrimental to plant growth.  This prompted us to ensure the heater in the GreenHab was on and functioning.  The temperature was set to 75F and will be monitored throughout the night to ensure optimum plant growth conditions.  If the temperature stabilizes we will setup the move plant into the GreenHab tomorrow and begin new germination.  We also investigated the equipment that is available for use.  We have questions regarding the hydroponic systems available.  Depending on correspondences about hydroponic capabilities we will alter our research plans and potential growing areas.



Today, I installed the indoor temperature sensor inside the GreenHAB so that we can monitor the indoor temperature there. In addition, I prepped my time-lapse cameras for use in the field. I set their exposure time and time between frames. We found the geologic maps of the area here in the GreenHab and are ready for an exploratory EVA to look for interesting sites

Sol Summary – December 19th

Daily Report:

SOL: 01
Person filling out Report: Anselm Wiercioch, XO
Summary Title: Waking up on Mars.
Mission Status: Active. Full crew functional.
Sol Activity Summary: First day on Mars. Set up new water tank, hot water heater, greenhab thermometer.
Look Ahead Plan: Prepping for first exploratory EVA tomorrow, testing new water connection, beginning greenhab setup.
Anomalies in work: Hole in water line, propane smell around furnace.
Weather: sunrise 7:36, sunset 17:05, high 71F, low 28F, generally sunny and clear skies.
Crew Physical Status: Nervous, thirsty.
EVA: None.
Reports to be filed:
– Sol Summary (herein)
– Journalist/Commander’s Report
– Science Reports
– 6-8 Photos
– EVA Plan
– Operations Report
Support Requested:
– Should we be expecting a water refill soon? The new tank was moved into position, but we’re still running on the ~200 gallons or so that were already on the trailer. Not sure how long that will last.
– We can smell propane near the furnace. Very faint and not immediately concerning, but will be keeping an eye on it. Maybe have someone on call in case it becomes more noticeable.

Crew 171 Mission Plan

Crew 171 Mars Desert Research Station Mission

Mission Statement: Turning over a new GreenHab leaf while planting the seeds of human spaceflight inspiration for future generations

Mission Start Date: 17th Dec 2016 to 1st Jan 2017

Alison Gibson – Crew Commander

Anselm Wiercioch – Crew Executive Officer/Journalist

Brittany Zimmerman – Crew GreenHab Officer

Sean Gellenbeck – Crew GreenHab Officer/HSO

Geoffrey Andrews – Crew Engineer

Connor Lynch – Crew Astrophysicist



Crew 171 is a diverse team of human space exploration enthusiasts pursuing degrees in science or engineering at universities across the United States. The crew members were chosen to represent the Students for Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS-USA), a national student organization. As the first Martians of the season and the first to set up and utilize the new GreenHab structure, the team plans to conduct research supporting the development of bioregenerative life support systems; additionally, vibrating space boots for obstacle avoidance during EVA will be field tested.


Alison Gibson

As the Commander of Crew 171, I will help facilitate all of the proposed research activities in the GreenHab, as well as carry out my own research pertaining to my thesis project. I will ensure that all of the crew members have what they need to be productive on Mars with their research, and will work to remove any impediments on their productivity. I will stay involved in my crew members’ state of well-being, and ensure that everyone’s voice and preferences are respected as a group. I take responsibility for the success of the mission, and will therefore make sensible decisions in the crew’s best interest. I hope to be both a source of professional support as well as a friend to each crew member.

Anselm Wiercioch

As the crew Executive Officer, I’ll be assisting the commander with overall planning and morale boosting. I’ll also take over any additional of the commander’s responsibilities, should she become unavailable. I will be available to assist any crew members with their own research projects, as well as maintaining general hab upkeep and supporting the crew engineer. I’ll also be serving as the crew journalist and documenting our mission through a daily blog. A major component of the SEDS MDRS crew’s mission will be popularizing the idea of inhabiting Mars, and helping get the next generation excited about space and science.

Brittany Zimmerman

As the first GreenHab Officer to utilize the GreenHab, I am responsible for the setup and outfitting of the facilities. This will include the erection of removable lights, germination of seeds, installation of soil trays, assembly of hydroponic system, and preparation of data collection tools.  It is my duty to have the GreenHab fully functioning with cultivars growing in several life cycle stages for future MDRS crews.

During this mission my I will also perform bioregenerative life support system research.  Harvest index rates, density of canopy structures, plant conveyor stages and soil vs hydroponic growth options will be studied in order to reduce mass of hardware for flight systems per mass of produced edible biomass.

Sean Gellenbeck

As the Green Hab Officer #2, it is my responsibility to assist in the setup and maintenance of the new MDRS Green Hab.  One of the major aspect of this setup is the seeding and germination of many new crops which in future missions can be harvested for consumption by future crews.  Brittany (Green Hab Officer #1) and I will be working closely in this set up effort and comparing hydroponic and soil based growing systems.

As the Health and Safety Officer, it is my responsibility to watch out for the health and safety of all of our crew members.  This includes ensuring that no one is unnecessarily put in to an unsafe situation or performing unsafe tasks and to appropriately care for our crew members in the event of any injuries.

Geoffrey Andrews

As Crew 171’s engineer, I will help support the technical activities of my colleagues in and around the Hab and in the greenhouse. I will ensure that the main systems of the Hab are in good operational condition, as well as keeping the ATVs and “rovers” running as necessary. In addition to engineering support, I am also leading outreach activities for the crew by responding to a series of “letters to Mars” which we have collected from schoolchildren across the United States.

Connor Lynch

As the crew geologist/astrophysicist, I am doing research to learn more about the ancient and current climates of Mars. I am doing this by using time-lapse cameras set up at strategic locations in the surrounding landscape. These cameras will capture change over time in the Martian landscape which may include water melting and drainage, erosion due to water and wind, and other geologic processes. I also can utilize a weather station that can take meteorological data that we can correlate to the video. Besides the actual data, I want to test how feasible using this equipment will be during an actual EVA on Mars. I am looking forward to documenting this work in the geology report.

Facebook & NatGeo Hold Highly Successful Live 360 Broadcast

Facebook and National Geographic, partnering with the Mars Society, held the first-ever Live 360 video event at the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) in Utah this past Tuesday to mark the end of the first half of the Mars 160 mission, while also helping to promote NatGeo’s currently-running MARS global event series.

Seven members of the Mars 160 crew began an 80-day simulation at MDRS in late September, carrying out scientific testing, research and field exploration in the Mars-like terrain of the Utah desert. The second half of the Mars 160 expedition will commence in June 2017 at the Mars Society’s Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station (FMARS) in northern Canada.

After weeks of planning by Facebook, NatGeo and Mars Society staff, the Live 360 video broadcast began on December 13th at 1:00 pm MST as crew members emerged from the MDRS station’s airlock door. The hour-long program started with host Cara Santa Maria, a prominent science journalist and podcaster, describing the Mars 160 mission, the use of the new live-streaming technology and welcoming the Mars 160 crew “back to Earth.”

The Live 360 event included interviews with members of the MDRS crew, as well as commentary from three leading space experts – John Grunsfeld, former NASA astronaut and Associate Administrator of NASA’s science mission directorate, Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist, author and science communicator, and Stephen Petranek, author of “How We’ll Live on Mars” – all of whom participated off-site via special projection.

In addition to the interview segments, people watching the Live 360 event via Facebook had access to a 360-degree view of the area in and around the Mars simulation facility and were able to participate in a behind-the-scenes visit to MDRS, seeing the station’s newly-renovated work and living quarters and watching two crew members suit up for an EVA, which included driving across the Martian landscape near the habitat in an electric rover.

“This use of new technology by Facebook and National Geographic brought a sizable number of virtual visitors to our Mars simulation station, allowing them to see the important work being done by our MDRS crew. We were very honored to be part of this unique and far-reaching event,” said Michael Stoltz, Mars Society Director of Media & Public Relations.

At its high-point, nearly 30,000 viewers were participating in Live 360 at MDRS. Upon the conclusion of the live-streaming broadcast, National Geographic posted the full one-hour video on its Facebook page. At present, the historic video segment has over 2.5 million views!

To watch the MDRS Live 360 video recording, please click here.