Journalist Report – January 1st

[Sol 1] [New Year, New Planet]

The first sunrise of 2018 broke the horizon at approximately 7:40 am this morning and lit the sky with a fiery glow not unlike the sea of ochre shades below. The crew roused with little hesitation and started the day with a yoga session led by our executive officer, Kshitij Mall. By 9 am the team had donned our EVA suits and capitalized on the morning light to conduct photo shoot. It was also our last chance to enjoy the outdoors while still being able to take our helmets off.

With the crew portraits obtained, the crew returned inside the habitat to indulge in a delicious New Year breakfast of fruit crêpes, cooked for the team by yours truly. At noon, the airlocks were shut from both sides and the simulation began.

But our crew isn’t one to vegetate inside the habitat (as cozy as it can be). Almost as soon as the simulation had begun, our ardent commander, Max Fagin, had 4 of us suiting up for our first EVA. The purpose was to analyze rock samples a short distance south of the hab and the EVA also served as an important test of our spectrometer and radio navigation equipment. Upon our return, the crew engineer, Melanie Grande, used some surplus time to replace the window on the outer door of the southern airlock.

Though the EVA was short, it has given the team much to think about. We have since been discussing various logistical items and how to iron out minor bugs in our EVA equipment.

Justin Mansell, MDRS Crew 186 Journalist

P.S. Daily photos attached. Picture of the day: 01Jan2018 Happy New Year.jpg

Operations Report – January 1st

Crew 186 Operations Report 01JAN2018

SOL: 01

Name of person filing report: M. Grande

Non-nominal systems: None

Notes on non-nominal systems: Generator system limping along with a now-nominal routine.

Generator (hours run): 25h 30min

Solar— SOC

@ 9:50am : 61%

@ 5:10pm : 100%

Diesel: 70%

Propane: 40%

Ethanol Free Gasoline (5 Gallon containers for ATV): 0 Gallons

Water (trailer): 10 Gallons

Water (static): Gallons

Trailer to Static Pump used: No

Water (loft) – Static to Loft Pump used: Yes

Water Meter: 128894.7 Gallons

Toilet tank emptied: Yes

ATVs Used: 350.1, 350.2

Oil Added? Yes

ATV Fuel Used: 0.1 Gallons

# Hours the ATVs were used today: 01:00 hours

Notes on ATVs: ATVs were nominal. They all need an oil change, especially the Yamaha 300, because the oil during my check was quite dirty and black. All got some oil added to them except the 300.

Today I went on an Engineering round to do a quick inspection of the ATVs: checked the oil and fuel levels, attempted to check tire pressure, and did a visual tire inspection. All results were nominal and nothing unexpected; however, I considered the quick inspection my due diligence as an Engineer on their first day! It was kind of entertaining for me anyway. Oil levels were about half-way so I added some from our stores (plenty of bottles of oil in the EVA storage room). I wanted to check the tire pressures, but unfortunately the little pen gauge is inoperational and the air compressor has a gauge without enough detail for me to get an accurate reading. All the tires seem in great condition though, and I looked for possible damage to the tire walls from going over a bad bump or something out here, too. Lookin’ good!

Deimos rover used: No

Hours: 96.4

Beginning charge: 100%

Ending charge:

Currently charging: Yes

Sojourner rover used: Assigned to director only.

Hours: 4.9

Beginning charge:

Ending charge:

Currently charging: Yes

Spirit rover used: Yes

Hours: 6.8

Beginning charge: 100%

Ending charge:

Currently charging: Yes

Opportunity rover used: No

Hours: 4.3

Beginning charge: 100%

Ending charge:

Currently charging: No

Curiosity rover used: No

Hours: 4.6

Beginning charge: 100%

Ending charge:

Currently charging: Yes

HabCar used and why, where? No

General notes and comments:

Sol 0 and as the Crew Engineer, I went around the hab for my checks while also looking things over to create a To Do list for my couple weeks here. Toilet got emptied (such fun), ATVs got a quick
inspection, and the front window replacement and back-up generator relocation was fit into the end of our EVA. I got confirmation from Shannon that we could try hooking up power to the RAM using the little back-up generator, so two crew were very helpful in wheeling it through the sand over there. We’ll just wait on the 30A cable to be delivered in a resupply mission soon, along with tools for the RAM! Yay! Finally, I also gave a little engineering brief to the crew–what to expect while they’re here with things like doors that don’t work properly and staying away from the power system and helping me record rover runtime hours.

A notable thing did happen today in that the generator failed sometime this morning. I’m not entirely sure what time, because the clock is not correct on it. Unfortunately, this means that I lost the runtime hours, too, so I can’t be sure how long it has been on. Fortunately, the Solar SOC showed 61% at that time, which is above our limit for concern. We are guessing that the battery died and that’s all. Because yesterday was cloudy and today might have been too, I left the generator on all day today but replaced the old battery with a new one. I switched the batteries again this evening, so now the new one is charging.

Summary of internet: All nominal

Summary of suits and radios: All nominal

Summary of Hab operations: All nominal

Summary of GreenHab operations: All nominal

Summary of ScienceDome operations: All nominal

Summary of RAM operations: Not Operational

Summary of health and safety issues: Crew is Healthy

Questions, concerns and requests to Mission Support: ATVs need an oil change soon, please. Also for my reports, I requested a switch to my gmail because I believe this email server is adding additional spaces to my reports for some reason. Sorry about that!

Happy 1st of the year!

Melanie Grande, Crew 186 Engineer

Greenhab Report – January 1st

GreenHab Report

Mark Gee


Environmental control: Heating with shade cloth on

Working Hour: 05:50 PM
Inside temp at working hour: 17 C
Outside temp during working hours: 6 C
Inside temperature high: 28 C
Inside temperature low: 15 C
Inside humidity: 42 %RH

Inside humidity high: 48 %RH
Inside humidity low: 25 %RH

Hours of supplemental light:

17:00 to 24:00

Changes to crops: Below is a formatted inventory of all of the crops, quantity, growth stage, actions taken, and notes. The table is also attached incase it is not visible here.



Growth Stage



Dill Weed

2ft row, ~40 plants

Seedling, 3 true leaves


2ft row, ~20 plants

Seedling, 1 true leaf


2ft row, ~50 plants

Seedling, cotyledon


2ft row, ~40 plants

Seedling, 1 true leaf


2ft row, ~100 plants

Seedling, cotyledon


2ft row, ~10 plants

Seedling, 1 true leaf


2ft row, ~40 plants

Seedling, 1 true leaf


2ft row, ~30 plants

Seedling, 1 true leaf


2ft row, ~20 plants

Seedling, 1 leaf

Spinach, Bloomsdale

2 seedling trays, 10 plants

Seedling, cotyledons

Need transplanting

Kale, Blue Curled Scotch

1 seedling tray, 2 pots, ~50 plants

Seedling, cotyledons

Need thinning

Cabbage, Golden Acre

1 seedling tray, ~20 plants

Seedlings, cotyledons

Need thinning

Moringa Olifera

14 plots

No plants

These are trees. Should they be grown in the small Greenhab?


3 pots, seven plants

Various, sprouted to flowering

Moved flowering plants to the habitat to improve morale

Beans, Pole

27 plants

3ft vines, producing flowers and pods

Harvest in 1 week


8 plants

2ft vines, no flowers


9 pots, 23 plants

8 inches, vegetative


24 pots, 54 plants

6in-48in tall, some flowering

Need transplanting

Daily water usage for crops: 8 gallons

Time(s) of watering for crops: 05:50

Research observations: None

Changes to research plants: None.

Aquaponics: Not Functional


The crew entered simulation at noon. We will have to adjust to the isolation from society, cramped quarters, and space supplies. I’m hoping to make this transition easier with the produce from the Green Hab. Several of the crops are nearing harvest and I hope to cook a meal with fresh food later in the rotation to boost crew morale. For dinner, I brought some of the blooming paperwhites to the table.

I cleaned the greenhouse and packed the aquaponics equipment to make room for the microgreen experiment and have been sterilizing the soil, growing surfaces, and water.

Support/supplies needed: 3 agar plates to check seed sterilization procedures

Sol Summary – January 1st

Crew 186 Sol 1 Summary Report 01012018

Sol 1

Summary Title: New Year New Planet

Author’s name: Max Fagin

Mission Status: All nominal

Sol Activity Summary: After staying up until midnight last night to bid farewell to 2017, we awoke at 7:30AM to the music of the Launch Theme from Apollo 13. Kshitij led us in a Yoga routine that will become a daily occurrence for the rest of the mission. We had planned to finish our official crew portraits the previous evening, but sunset intervened, so we quickly donned the EVA suits this morning and stepped outside to capture our official crew portraits. On display were the flags of Purdue (our Alma Mater), our home countries, and the Tricolor-RGB of our new home planet.

Breakfast was crepes smothered with Nutella and maple syrup, prepared by Justin and Mark. Over breakfast, we established the rules of our simulation, and what was expected of each of us to maintain its fidelity. With 15 minutes left until noon (when we would officially enter simulation), we all took the time to pay one last visit to the outside. At noon, we officially entered our simulation and began preparation for our first EVA: A geological sampling mission to the Greenstone Rd. area. Entering simulation late meant we had to return to the hab after only collecting one of the targeted 3 samples, but we will return tomorrow to complete it. Lunch was leftovers from last night’s new year’s feast (it was good enough to enjoy twice), followed by a dinner and witnessing a marvelous supermoon rise. Lunar astronomy on the supermoon is planned for tonight, as the weather looks clear.

We are not the only ones who are feeling the Martian vibe. Even the habitat seems to be feeling it. For example, the generator’s 60Hz AC power seems to be running at ~61.6 Hz for some unknown reason. This is a harmless anomaly, but it means any appliance that gets its clock cycle from the AC power line will run 2.8% fast, accumulating an extra ~38 minutes per day. In other words, due to a technical error, our clocks are actually keeping within 0.2% of Martian time, and only the battery power analog clock on the wall is keeping Earth time… We have no intention of fixing this.

Look Ahead Plan: Tomorrow’s EVA will target the two sample sites we were not able to visit today. Will also experiment with the use of the Hanksville repeater (aka, communications satellite) and our ham radio to avoid comm dropouts between EVA team and MDRS. Thank you comm for the warning this morning about the solar storm! We will deploy our own telescope tonight and plan for some solar astronomy tomorrow morning.

Anomalies in work: EVA Airlock window was installed at the end of the EVA, but is currently secured with zip ties. Looking for a better way.

Weather: Temperature: 6C, Mostly clear, Winds calm, Humidity 39%, Barometer 30.27 inHg

Crew Physical Status: Healthy

EVA: Greenstone Rd, 1.0 hrs, geological sampling for spectral analysis

Reports to be filed: Sol Summary, Journalist Report, Greenhab Report, EVA Report, Science Report (Geology)

Support Requested:

1) We installed a new EVA airlock window at the end of today’s EVA. Are there any old photos of the EVA airlock window we can use for reference to see how it is supposed to be secured? It is currently zip tied in place, which is adequate, but not pretty.

2) Can Mission Support please change the email of Crew Engineer Melanie Grande to we think this will solve some formatting anomalies with the operation report.

EVA Report – January 1st

Author: Max Fagin

Purpose of EVA: Spectral sampling of sandstone clay, mudstone clay and Hematite in Goldstone region.

Destination: Between URC South and Kissing Camel Ridge, 200-300m west of Cow Dung Rd.

UDM27 Coordinates:



Participants: Max, Melanie, Cesare, Justin

Narrative: We have heard reports of hematite blueberry formations near the Goldstone Road area, and wanted to take samples with Cesare’s handheld spectrometer. Three sample sites were planned along the way to sample sandstone clays and mudstone clays. A late start meant we had to turn back after only one sample site, and limit the EVA to 1.0 hr instead of 3.5 hrs, but we made productive use of the time. While Cesare was taking spectra of rock and clay samples, Justin broke out his directional radio beacon to experiment with locating the hab. Our sample site was in a radio shadow of the the hab, so Melanie climbed a nearby hill to relay instructions between us and the Hab. This problem won’t go away on Mars (where the radio horizon is 50% closer than Earth’s), and we’ve brought equipment to mitigate it. Our crew includes three licensed ham radio operators, and tomorrow, we will use the Hanksville radio repeater (aka, “communication satellite”).

After returning, we checked two items off our engineering EVA checklist: Moving the small generator to the RAM in preparation for powering it up tomorrow, and installing a new window in the Hab airlock.

Our goal for EVA’s on this mission is to hold to a 25-50-25 rule. I.e. No more than 25% of the time from egress to ingress be spent traveling to and from to the destination, and at least 50% of the time spent on site. Today, we only spent 25 minutes on site (plus 7 minutes at the hab working on engineering tasks), which didn’t meet our goal. But we will track our performance on each future EVA to hold ourselves to improvement. Field science means field science. Not
driving-to-the-field science.

Science Report – January 1st

Science: Geology.

The goal of the geologic project of Crew 186 is testing the use of remote sensing to identify suitable minerals for In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) and to analyze their physical properties for collection and use. Thus, several geology EVAs are scheduled, focusing on materials that are found on locations of geological interest on Mars.
The plan of today’s EVA included three locations, all within the Saltwash and Brushy Basin members of the Morrison formation, South and Southwest of the habitat: the area between URC South Site and Kissing Camel Ridge, the area between Robert’s Rock Garden and Zubrin’s Head, and the area East of Greenstone Rd. The crew geologist gave a short brief to the rest of the crew (a more in depth introduction to the geology of the area is scheduled for tomorrow), and instructed them on the type of samples to be collected during the EVA: different types of clays in the first two locations, and hematite inclusions (spherules, or “blueberries”) in the third one.

Due to delays in the first phases of simulation, the EVA started later than planned, and was consequently cut short. The EVA crew members reached only the first location, and upon directions by the geologist found appropriate samples. The samples were photographed and analyzed with the TREK portable spectrometer. Temperature of the samples was not recorded, due to the reduced duration of the EVA. The samples collected today were a chlorite sandstone, illite/hematite soil, a montmorillonite mudstone, and a clays conglomerate. Once back from the EVA, we reviewed the spectra of the samples, comparing them visually with the USGS library spectra; however, it was not possible to download the data from the portable spectrometer to a laptop, due to a software error which has not been yet been solved. We will work on the connection problem tomorrow, or failing that, all the analysis can be performed after we return to Earth.


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