Mid Mission Research Report
Crew 268 – All Woman Crew, Mars Society
November 13-26, 2022
Crew Commander: Jenni Hesterman (United States)
Executive Officer/Crew Scientist: Jas Purewal (United Kingdom)
Health and Safety Officer: Elizabeth Balga (United States)
Crew Biologist & Crew Greenhab Officer : Caitlyn Hubric (United States)
Crew Engineer: Judith Marcos (United States)
Crew Journalist: Izabela Shopova (Bulgaria)
Below is a detailed summary of the progress we have made during the mission.
Conducted crew education regarding strategies to enhance knowledge of self and maximize success working in diverse groups in a remote, austere environment. Training topics covered in the first half of the mission included how to take and use the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and the VARK Learning Preference Tool, and growing leadership, followership and mentoring skills. Supported the Intertribal Space Conference on Wednesday with a crew video. Assisted in the greenhab.
Emotion study is progressing well, no conclusions yet. Crew is submitting their surveys each day. QI of PARO is also progressing well. Have completed 2 scenarios for VR first aid training, one more scenario left.
Sample Collection Update:
I have successfully collected multiple samples during the mission. I have collected 9 small amounts of visually different lichens. I also took many photos and videos of the lichen prior to sampling them. I have been using the book “Field Guide to the Lichens of White Rocks” that I found in the science dome to try and identify the species I have found. I plan to put my samples on slides and use the microscope to analyze them further. Lichens are of interest to me because they are able to survive in rocky regolith-like conditions.
I have collected 6 small samples from different plants I have found growing in regolith-like conditions. I collected branches, leaves, and when possible, flowers. I have also collected 4 samples of regolith from around the roots of different plants. I am going to inspect these samples and attempt to find and isolate microbial life, if any, that I find. I hope to find a microorganism that helps promote plant growth and/or water stress tolerance in these desert conditions. I also plan to test the pH and NPK values of the regolith samples.
I have collected 6 different samples of regolith from multiple different locations. I plan to test the pH and NPK values of these samples and compare them to regular dirt and the simulated martian regolith I work with from the exolith lab (MGS-1 Regolith Simulant).
Decomposition research update:
I have successfully set up 3 different compositions of substrate for my decomposition study. In method 1, I have combined wood pellets, brown rice, dead edible plants (that I brought with me), and grain spawn. For method 2, I combined wood pellets, dead edible plants, the roots and dirt surrounding the roots of the dead plants, and grain spawn. For method 3, I collected organic waste generated by the crew for the first 5 days of the mission and liquid spawn. The organic waste included coffee grinds, leftover bread/breadcrumbs, cardboard, and other inedible food waste.
I hope to not only generate food for my crew but to also recycle organic material that would otherwise just be thrown away. So far, I have healthy and speedy growth in my methods 1 and 2. These were inoculated a few days before method 3 as I had to let waste accumulate. I have high hopes that by the end of next week I will have mushrooms for us to share.
I have collected a variety of rock samples from Hab Ridge and the Intersection of Cow Dung Rd and Brahe Hwy. The samples will be cataloged by its variety in shape, texture and mass for a carry capacity test. My team’s prototype will be tested in the field next week regarding its usefulness with a limited amount of mobility and design defects.
I have been making yogurt every night since Sol 3 and serving it to the crew, using the powdered milk I brought and kitchen utensils already available at MDRS, which demonstrates the feasibility of making the homemade yogurt part of the analog astronauts’ diet. The broccoli and radishes sprouts are developing quickly and will be ready for harvest next week. The crew is filling in their questionnaires, evaluating the quality of the yogurt on a regular basis.
I am gathering a wealth of knowledge and information about life at MDRS which will be invaluable for the development of my pre-mission and mission induction training for analog astronauts.
Yesterday I also completed my video response to the questions from school children from the Bulgarian Space Academy. They were all about Mars, space exploration, mars colonization and the life of the analog astronauts.