Commander Report – April 13th

Entering Mars’ Atmosphere

Today, we woke up on Mars. We decided as a crew to enter sim overnight, and it was with an eerie knowledge that today would be very different from yesterday that I let my eyelids close. When I woke up – to the effervescent and ever-present chorus of Kanye’s “Good Morning” – it was with the jolting realization that as of today, I am joining the ranks of analog Martian astronauts.

We did not waste any time acclimating. This analog mission is only two weeks long, including every technology delay and equipment failure, which means that to accomplish the science we set out to do, we would need to fast-forward and immediately begin setting up shop.

A successful mission means that in simulation, science has been safely done. In order to do science, Martian astronauts need to do EVA’s, or extravehicular activities. It’s vital that EVA’s only be done when needed, as the science return has to justify the risk in venturing out onto the surface of another planet, but – as you can guess – we were all thrilled to have a reason to don our spacesuits.

The EVA

Five minutes. We stood in the airlock for five minutes, waiting for the go-ahead from the Hab. Once they gave us the say-so, it meant that the room we were huddled in had depressurized, and that we could open the sealed outer door and leave the Hab for the first time since the simulation began.

The first EVA comprised of our Executive Officer, Hume, HSO Officer, Coultrup, and Crew Scientist, Ettlin. We had only changed up our intended 3-person teams in order to make sure that the appropriate trainings were given during our practice EVA’s today. But – none of us minded the fact that it was our three female crewmembers who were the first to take that step. Our first words out on the surface were: “We go to Mars – together.” We care about diversity in the future of space, and it felt appropriate.

The EVA went wonderfully. There were a few small issues – bumping helmets together, having to squeeze into the rover with a bulky helmet and spacesuit on, and media taken being washed out by the harsh sunlight, but we returned with high spirits.

The second EVA – comprised of Commander Dickstein, Engineer Hariharan, and Botanist Hernandez started off enthusiastic and well. They received more challenges than the former team. Soon after leaving, Dickstein and Hariharan lost communications and Hernandez had to call back to the Hab. However, he quickly organized a plan for returning to the Hab using visual communications and hand signals. The team returned safely and calmly a few minutes later, handling the problem with ease and grace.

We all noted that because of the reality of the analog level, it truly felt as though we were on an expedition where our life support systems mattered and where we were preparing to do real science. We intend to begin our science EVA’s tomorrow, and in taking these trips today, were able to come up with not only EVA checklists, but also our best practices for traveling outside of the hab.

EVA Best Practices

· Charge your comms!

· Decide a nominal system of hand signals for events of communications outages

· Confirm all vehicles’ movement prior to leaving the Hab

· In the event of communications outages, do not lose visual on non-communicative members. The member with comms ought to follow up the rear in order to be able to call the Hab for safety reasons.

· Medium level is preferred for the air coolant system, as higher can result in comms being distorted.

· Maintaining space is important, as it’s easier to bump helmets than desired.

· Put a container of all needed supplies for EVA into the airlock prior to donning spacesuits – it’s easy to forget items after helmets are on.

· Customize a “preflight checklist” based on your crew’s needs.

· Name a “Hab controller” who will take point on all radio communications.

· Call out “Hab” when communications are asked from the Hab instead of the EVA members.

· Have an order of business and priorities for an EVA ahead of time in case of early return.

· More to come!

Shayna Hume, XO
Red Planet People – MDRS Crew 245 “Team Patamars”
To Mars and Beyond – For All!

Sol Summary – April 13th

Crew 245 Sol Summary Report 13-04-2021

Sol: 3

Summary Title: First day in Sim

Author’s name: Shayna Hume

Mission Status: Executive Officer

Sol Activity Summary:

· Woke up to “Good Morning” by Kanye…. again

· Early morning hours: Strawberry, blueberry, and chocolate chip pancakes! Chef Julio is unreal.

· Late morning hours: Hurried for a 9am first EVA. From 9-12, we did our two practice EVA’s in two crews. Crew 1: Hume, Coultrup, Ettlin. Crew 2: Dickstein, Hariharan, Hernandez. First words outside: “We go to Mars together.” Second EVA ended early due to comms breakdown.

· Noon: separated for a variety of activities. Crew Scientist doing botany. HSO starting a botany kit as well. Report-writing for the rest.

· Lunch: Chef Julio preparing quesadillas! Corn tortillas from scratch! It was absolutely wonderful.

· Afternoon: Scientist & Botanist in Greenhab, HSO and Commander working on Documentary, Engineer and XO on misc.

· Late Afternoon: Scientist & Botanist in Greenhab, Engineer grabbing people for dexterity task, HSO & XO answering misc. calls for help, Commander videoing intro videos for our mockumentary.

· Dinner: Beef tacos!

Look Ahead Plan: Our first science mission is tomorrow morning. In addition, we will be completing the second day of dexterity testing in spacesuit gloves. Misc. botany will be happening, as well as the first soil sample analysis for geology and astrobiology. We are now living fully in sim and beginning to work towards making our workload each day sustainable.

Anomalies in work: Comms went dead on EVA, ended early. Dead charge only.

Weather: Warm in daytime, around 40 F at nighttime. Clear weather. Expected rain did not fall.

Crew Physical Status: No major issues. HSO Report coming in for small aid kit use.

EVA: Two practice EVA’s. First one had several equipment issues, completed as nominal however. Second had comms issue. EVA Reports incoming.

Reports to be filed: HSO Report, Operations Report, EVA Report, EVA Plan, Science Report

Support Requested: We would like to abstain from sending 8 daily photos, as it’s taking up our whole internet. We uploaded photos over lunch and it virtually drained the entire internet for the day. A single photo may be more feasible. Please confirm a single photo of the day will do for now. We are running out just by sending this.

Shayna Hume, Executive Officer
Red Planet People – MDRS Crew 245 “Team Patamars”
To Mars and Beyond – For All!

Supplementary Operations Report – April 12th

MDRS Supplemental Operations Report 12-APR-2021

Name of person filing report: Shannon Rupert

Reason for filing report: Follow up to beginning of field season

Non-nominal systems: The Work Party that did not happen

Action taken for non-nominal systems: Once again we would just like to thank each and every person who has come to volunteer at MDRS during a work party or refit. I have always respected, appreciated and been damn grateful for your help, and knew we couldn’t do it without you and this year showed us that is true. I am looking forward to the end of the pandemic and your return.

Generator check, note if oil and coolant added: rental generator on site and connected to our system, new generator has arrived in SLC and we will pick it up in the next two weeks.

ScienceDome AC unit: off

Solar— Functioning nominally

Diesel Reading – 50 %

Propane Reading – Outpost 1: 40 %, Outpost 2: 65%, Main Campus 75%

Ethanol Free Gasoline – 15 gallons

Water (Outpost tank) – 70 gallons

Water (static tank) – 100 gallons

Water (GreenHab) – 0 gallons

Water (loft) – 10

Static to Loft Pump used – yes

Water Meter: not noted

Toilet tank emptied: yes, twice

Perseverance rover used: yes

Hours: 199.7

Beginning charge: 100 %

Ending charge: not noted

Currently charging: yes

Sojourner rover used: no

Hours:

Beginning charge:

Ending charge:

Currently charging: yes, in town

Spirit rover used: no

Hours:

Beginning charge:

Ending charge:

Currently charging: yes, in town

Opportunity rover used: no

Hours:

Beginning charge:

Ending charge:

Currently charging: no, in town

Curiosity rover used: no

Hours:

Beginning charge:

Ending charge:

Currently charging: yes, in town

Notes and action taken on rovers: Nothing to report

Monthly check and fill of rover batteries (first workday of the month): nothing to report

ATV’s Used: (Honda, 300, 350.1, 350.2, 350.3) yes. The three 350’s have been prepped for crew use. Installed a new battery in 350.3.

Reason for use: crew use

Oil Added? no

ATV Fuel Used: 1 Gals

# Hours the ATVs were Used: 1

Notes and action taken on ATVs: Installed a new battery in 350.3.

HabCar running? If used, why, where? Yes, taken to Grand Junction to pick up rental generator today

CrewCar running? If used why, where? Used yesterday, taken to Grand Junction for the crew’s use

Van (Luna) running? If used why, where? Yes, taken to Grand Junction yesterday for staff to deliver CrewCar to crew.

Campus wide inspection, if action taken, what and why? The crew completed the tunnel work today

Evidence of rodents, where and action taken: Nothing new to report.

Summary of internet: All nominal.

Summary of suits and radios: To be reported by Crew Engineer in standard Operations Report

Summary of Hab operations: Water tank cleaning completed. Noted one knob (far left) on the stove has been broken. Burner is still usable but a replacement knob should be ordered. A water leak was noticed in the line from the static tank to the loft tank and needs to be replaced before next season. Remote power system monitoring is back online and nominal.

Summary of Outpost operations: Nothing to report

Summary of GreenHab operations: Nothing to report

Summary of ScienceDome operations: Nothing to report

Summary of RAM operations: We still need to clean this building but quite honestly, I am exhausted and only have one good hand so I will be finishing it after the crew goes into sim.

Summary of any observatory issues: Nothing to report.

Summary of health and safety issues: All crew tested negative for COVID prior to arrival. Masks and social distancing are being used consistently and proactively by the crew. My thanks to them.

List and summary of projects: Nothing to report at this time.

Questions, concerns, supplies needed and requests: Welcome back to our Capcoms and Mission Support personnel. We have missed you!

Operations Report – April 12th

Crew 245 Operations Report 12-04-2021

SOL: 2

Name of person filing report: Shravan Hariharan

Non-nominal systems: Nothing to report

Notes on non-nominal systems: Nothing to report

Generator: Rental generator being installed tonight

Hours run: N/A

From what time last night: N/A

To what time this morning: N/A

List any additional daytime hours when the generator was run: N/A

Solar— SOC 89% (Before generator is run at night)

Diesel Reading – 50%

Station Propane Reading – 75%

Water (loft tank): 31 gallons

Water Meter: 150204.5 units

Water (static tank): 100 gallons

Static to Loft Pump used – yes

Water in GreenHab: 0 gallons

Water in ScienceDome: 0 gallons

Toilet tank emptied: no

Sojourner rover used: ASSIGNED TO DIRECTOR

Hours: N/A

Beginning charge: N/A

Ending charge: N/A

Currently charging: N/A

Spirit rover used: no

Hours: N/A

Beginning charge: N/A

Ending charge: N/A

Currently charging: yes, in town

Opportunity rover used: no

Hours: N/A

Beginning charge: N/A

Ending charge: N/A

Currently charging: no, in town

Curiosity rover used: no

Hours: N/A

Beginning charge: N/A

Ending charge: N/A

Currently charging: yes, in town

Perseverance rover used: Yes

Hours: 199.7

Beginning charge: 100%

Ending charge: 100%

Currently charging: Yes

Notes on rovers: Nothing to report

ATV’s Used: 350.1, 350.2, 350.3

Reason for use: Training

Oil Added? No

ATV Fuel Used: N/A

# Hours the ATVs were used today: 0.5

Notes on ATVs: Mission Director will monitor and refuel ATVs for the duration of the mission.

HabCar used and why, where?: No.

CrewCar used and why, where?: Used on Sol 1 for transport from Grand Junction

CrewCar mileage: 194098

CrewCar fuel: Full

CrewCar oil: 30 quarts, Dipstick full

General notes and comments: Hab kitchen sink is leaking, and seal will be re-caulked around the border of the sink. Leak is minor, and should not require any outside assistance.

Summary of internet: Nominal, crew has not fully consumed daily internet bandwidth so far

Summary of suits and radios: All radios nominal, suits currently charging. Two suit batteries will be swapped tonight, awaiting instructions from Scott Davis.

Summary of Hab operations: Water filter changed and loft tank re-filled, furnace filter changed

Summary of GreenHab operations: None

Summary of ScienceDome operations: Mopped and cleaned by crew

Summary of RAM operations: Inventoried by HSO for safety equipment

Summary of any observatory issues: Nothing to report

Summary of health and safety issues: Nothing to report

Questions, concerns and requests to Mission Support: Nothing to report

Commander's Report – April 12th

Commander’s Report: "Packing for Mars" (Thoughts on Why and How We Prepare for Analogs for Those on the Outside)

If living on Mars was easy, we would already be doing it, right?

Well we’re not, and that’s because it’s not. This week, I am beginning my first ever analog astronaut simulation, one in which I live and work in isolation and confinement on Mars. Analog astronaut missions, as you can read about here, are useful because they allow us to not only perform experiments in bounded conditions, but also learn through trial and error the intricacies of living in extreme environments.

Our extreme environment of choice? The Red Planet, of course.

Why Go to Mars

This question deserves a novel, not a paragraph. But, you’re in luck, because such a book already exists. There are a myriad of reasons to expand humanity to the red planet, not all of which were coined by Elon. Yes, being a multiplanetary species. Important, and potentially the turning point of human history. In addition, we can also gain an incredible scientific bounty, learning about the geology and seismology of planets composed differently from ours, understanding more about planetary formation in solar systems, and learning how to live off an entirely different set of resources than we are accustomed to. And, of course, we cannot discount the possibility of life in the universe being found on our peachy neighbor.

But, there’s more than just scientific benefits. There are also extreme financial and political gains. Robert Jacobson said it well, space is open for business, and the venture capitalist economy is looking for where value will be found within the start-up industry that is burgeoning around low-Earth orbit. However, once the technology catches up, that economy will swell and quickly overtake Mars operations, too. Governments are racing to keep up with the private sector, and new actors are blooming all over the world. There’s a concern that whoever gets to space first gets to set the rules, and while those in the industry are sprinting to figure out a framework for the future… the former isn’t entirely wrong.

Science and money. Those are good and valid reasons. The latter is especially helpful to prop up the space industry as a self-sustaining economy of its own, without the requirement of government and taxpayer support… which brings us to you.

The taxpayer.

Why is space worth it to you? Moreover, why is Mars worth it? It’s cold (freezingly so), barren (even compared to deserts on Earth), and uninhabited (so far as we know).

One common argument for why space exploration is “worth it” in general, is that the application of money that is already being spent by the government anyways to science has a trickle-down effect. Many technologies developed in the Apollo era have become mainstay fixtures (Tang, Velcro, Microtechnology), and it’s likely that those in labs right now will have the same ascension.

Moreover, by pumping money into space, we also trickle down all sorts of grant and scholarship money to students who are inspired by finding out more about the universe. I myself have been the recipient of many of these, and without the financial support I’ve received through this industry, it’s unlikely I’d have the life I do today.

Finally, spaceflight and humanity’s expansion has a unique side effect, one which has begun to bring people together. Satellite internet, a product of space, has connected the whole world, so that a business tycoon in China could hire a contractor in South America in minutes. More recently, the newspace industry has begun to diversify, with the advent of fellowships, programs, and internal committees that seek to elevate more voices into the space industry. Space is for everyone, we’ve been saying, and it doesn’t seem to be in vain.

None of these are concrete, though, and after a year like 2020, it’s more obvious than ever that there are issues that need immediate and desperate attention back here on Earth. There are valid arguments against the attention paid to “ivory tower” causes like these.

I don’t have an answer for them. I wish I did. But this industry turns lives around, and Perseverance just landed on Mars.

There’s hope in exploration. Hope that we can learn to treat other planets better than we have treated our own. Hope that more of us can go to space together, and that diversity and inclusion is more than a tagline. Hope that this is just the beginning of humanity’s story, and not a dead end.

For these and more, Mars is worth it, to me.

What Makes Mars Hard

People like the idea of going to space, but space hates people. Nothing about living beyond our beautiful Earthly oasis is easy because we are not designed for it. Our bodies like certain temperatures, breath certain kinds of air, and suffer under a thousand million different variations of chemicals.

With all that said, we have decided that we want to go. Humans have always been extreme adventurers, taking to long distance traveling, voyaging the seas, and finally soaring through the skies. We travel to Antarctica for fun.

But, if we’re going to take on Mars, we have to understand what we’re up against.

Mars’ atmosphere is not breathable like ours is. We would have to terraform the planet (a questionable practice worth considering the ethics of) to even consider walking on its surface. Moreover, Mars doesn’t have as thick of an atmosphere as Earth, which makes its surface and any potential human visitors much more exposed to radiation.

In addition, there isn’t any accessible water on Mars, making one of Earth’s most valuable resources a struggle to even find and use. Most of it’s trapped in ice anyways – because Mars is further from the sun and freezing cold compared to the Earth.

Oh, and did I mention the regolith (soil) has perchlorates in it that are toxic?

Being on Mars is a level of complicated akin to scuba diving in the Arctic. So, if we’re going to do it, we need to know what to bring.

What To Pack

Finally! The point of this post. The good news is that with time, what we must bring to Mars is going to get less and less. A hot topic of research in the aerospace industry is in-situ resource utilization, which can be translated to “living off of the land.” Making what you need when you get there, instead of bringing it. That makes sense. Every gram of weight we bring from Earth costs money, including the very propellant to push the rocket beyond our atmosphere. Being able to use the resources of Mars will save us time and money.

But, for an analog mission, we needed a packing list a little different than a traditional one.

– Regarding food, instead of what diets normally consist of, we need to bring and eat dehydrated alternatives for almost everything, allowing for maximum shelf lives.
– Clothing needs to be limited, and washable and reusable, since it takes up a large amount of space. Layering is vital, starting from thin layers for under flight and spacesuits, up to the warmest possible options for at night.
– Ideally, hygiene items such as shampoo and conditioner need to be biodegradable, in order to live more sustainably. It’s necessary to only bring what you could use for an entire mission length, so most daily product routines aren’t feasible.
– Camping gear, such as low-temperature thermals and sleeping bags are ideal, since on both Mars and analog missions temperatures sink incredibly low at night.
– A few trusty books, some low-mass games, or downloaded Netflix episodes for down time in order to maintain work-life balance in such an environment.
– And of course, you need a trusty Earthie to remind you of where you came from.

Dylan Dickstein, Commander & Shayna Hume, Executive Officer
Red Planet People – MDRS Crew 245 "Team Patamars"
To Mars and Beyond – For All!

Sol Summary – April 12th

Crew 245 Sol Summary Report 12-04-2021

Sol: 2

Summary Title: Before the Simulation

Author’s name: Shayna Hume

Mission Status: Executive Officer

Sol Activity Summary:

– Woke up to “Good Morning” by Kanye
– Early morning hours: exploring the kitchen (no can opener at the time), making breakfasts and coffees, and talking about our thoughts on the start of the sim
– Late morning hours: met up with Dr. Rupert, began to do our trainings. Had an excellent and lively discussion. Felt confident in our pre-knowledge for the station.
– Noon: took the training quiz and passed as a team.
– Late lunch: Chef Julio prepared spiced potato au gratin and potato soup. We mixed the two together and it was wonderful. Running a bit late to meet with Dr. Rupert. Took photos of a group meal for GSI!
– Mid-afternoon: Tarped the tunnels between the hab buildings quickly as a team. Continued to our atv and rover training – what a blast! Do not use the kill switch. Aside: my (Hume) callsign is now “Killswitch.” I couldn’t be more pleased. After this, split while Dr. Rupert went to help/look for Atila. Tried on flight and spacesuits, figured out helmets. Got some great photos!
– Late afternoon: As we wait for formal last trainings with Dr. Rupert, each of us took on the below tasks:
Crew Engineer and Commander: Heater (filter replacement pending) & operations report
HSO and Commander: HSO Inspection
XO: Report-writing
Scientist and Botanist: Cleaning the lab.

– Evening: Meeting with Shannon to review spacesuits, assignments, and radio protocols while in EVA. Took photos, began dinner, sent this report.

Look Ahead Plan: We intend to begin sim overnight. We will be ready to begin sim just before we retire for the evening so this makes practical sense. Today was an exciting day, because although we aren’t in sim, we are 90% of the way there. The main difference is that we are still going outside at this time. We are eating in sim, using internet in sim, and working together in sim. We are ready to begin EVA’s tomorrow. It’s beyond exciting to be about to start our first analog mission, and the energy is definitely running through the crew. We have a vision of being able to work together as a crew many times in future, and this is the precipice of beginning that journey.

Anomalies in work: n/a

Weather: Warm in daytime, around 40 F at nighttime. Clear weather.

Crew Physical Status: No issues. HSO First Day Report coming in.

EVA: n/a

Reports to be filed: HSO First Report, Operations, EVA Plan

Support Requested: n/a

Sol Summary – April 11th

Crew 245 Sol Summary Report 11-04-2021

Sol: 1

Summary Title: Arrival at the Station

Author’s name: Shayna Hume

Mission Status: Executive Officer

Sol Activity Summary: Arrive at Station. Because of the late hour, the priority was to unpack and learn the essentials of living in the station safely. We settled into our staterooms. The Crew Engineer spent time with the station Director learning how the toilet operates and flushing old water out of the system. Commander and XO spent time preparing initial emails and reports.

The primary challenge that arose was an uncertain smell near the Crew Scientist’s stateroom. It was found that it was sewage gas and the flushing of the toilet took care of the issue. A full operations report on Sol 2 is following. Note: we are not yet in simulation.

Look Ahead Plan: On Sol 2, we will be beginning the training, taking the quiz, and assisting with last-minute repairs needed for the Hab, including putting up the tarps for between buildings. Before the end of the day, we intend to

Anomalies in work: n/a

Weather: Warm in the daytime, around 40 F at nighttime. Clear weather.

Crew Physical Status: No issues. HSO Report for before the sim coming on Sol 2.

EVA: n/a

Reports to be filed: n/a

Support Requested: n/a

Shayna Hume, Executive Officer
Red Planet People – MDRS Crew 245 "Team Patamars"
To Mars and Beyond – For All!