Journalist Report – May 5th

Crew 282 Journalist report 05June2023

By: Jordan Bimm

Is there life on Mars? Scientists are still searching. But there is life at MDRS, and Crew 282 is here to study it in detail. Martian Biology III is a non-sim science mission at MDRS focused on cataloguing the biodiversity of the desert south of the San Rafael Swell, with a special focus on plants, lichens, and insects. The Martian Biology Program at MDRS was conceived of by Dr. Shannon Rupert, field ecologist and Senior Director of Analog Research for the Mars Society. This time, our team consists of botanist Paul Sokoloff (Canadian Museum of Nature), entomologist Jacopo Razzauti (Rockefeller University), and space historian Jordan Bimm (University of Chicago). Building off previous missions Martian Biology I (May 2019) and Martian Biology II (June 2022), we plan to visit different field sites of biological interest reachable from the Hab over the next 5 days searching for interesting flora, fauna, and biota. Early each morning, before the heat of day, we travel to a different field site and collect specimens. Upon returning to the Hab we process, catalogue, and study these in the Science Dome. Field sites Martian Biology III will investigate include Salt Wash, The Henry Mountains, Muddy Creek, and the Fremont River. Stay tuned for more photos as we explore these stunning and fascinating ecosystems.


Image 1: Entomologist Jacopo Razzauti uses an aspirator, a device that uses suction to capture small insects alive, to collect ants at Salt Wash.

Image 2: Botanist Paul Sokoloff collects plant specimens at Salt Wash

Image 3: The purple Intermountain Phacelia (Phacelia demissa) and the yellow Palmer’s Bee Plant (Cleomella palmeriana) are in full flower on Factory Bench.

Image 4: The Plains Pricklypear (Opuntia polyacantha) flowering in Salt Wash.

Image 5: A red beetle we collected at Salt Wash and will identify in the Science Dome.

Image 6: The Nakedstem Sunray (Enceliopsis nudicualis) is a common desert species which is newly collected for the Mars Desert Research Station area.

Image 7: The day’s haul of plant specimens laid out in the Science Dome before pressing.

Image 8: Crew 282, Jordan Bimm, Jacopo Razzauti, and Paul Sokoloff, pose in front of the Science Dome on the first night of Martian Biology III.

Mission Plan – June 4th

Mission Plan, Crew 282 – Martian Biology III – June 4-10, 2023

Crew 282, Martian Biology III is a non-simulation biological survey of the Mars Desert Research Station sponsored by the Mars Society. Composed of scientists, historians, educators, and Mars Society personnel, the goal of this mission is to continue an ongoing investigation into the flora, fauna, and biota of the operational area surrounding this unique analog site. In 2019, Crew 210, Martian Biology I, the first expedition of this program, documented 40 vascular plant taxa for the station, building off collecting activity carried out during previous missions. Simultaneously, Crew 243, Mars Biology II, continued collecting vascular plants, finding 33 taxa newly reported for the MDRS operational area, and documented five lizard species, numerous mammals and birds, multiple insect taxa including ants and mosquitoes, advanced research on the history of Astrobiology, and provided online and in person educational opportunities to Canadian students. Martian Biology III seeks to continue documenting the biology of the station’s area and to continue our historical research.

Crew 282 will continue our documentation of vascular plants and lichens in the broader MDRS operational area – revisiting species rich habitats such as Salt Wash, Muddy Creek, and the Fremont River – and additionally carrying out a full day of botanizing in the Henry Mountains. These projects will be carried out by Paul Sokoloff, Jacopo Razzauti, Jordan Bimm, and Sergii Iakymov.

We will also continue documenting the mosquito and ant biodiversity of the station operational area at each of these sites as well, which will be led by Jacopo Razzauti. Jacopo will also be testing a new mosquito trap design.

During our biological investigations, Dr. Jordan Bimm will be conducting field research in support of his historical research project “Astrobiology in Action”. Through conversations and interviews with the MDRS assistant director and the crew, he hopes to further understand the long history and current practice of Astrobiology and the work of the Mars Society.

Post-mission, we plan to use the observation data and voucher specimen collections we collected on both Martian Biology II and Martian Biology III in peer-reviewed scientific papers, conference presentations, and a broad range of scholarly work, while the science communication pieces produced will share the story of MDRS and it’s unique biota for a long time to come.

Mission Fieldwork Itinerary

June 5, 2023 Fieldwork at Salt Wash (12N 504648, 4260207) [38.4902°, -110.9467°]

June 6, 2023 Fieldwork at McMillan Springs, Henry Mountains (12N 513393, 4213848) [38.0723°, -110.8473°]

June 7, 2023 Fieldwork at Fremont River (12N 518311, 4257841 [38.4687°, -110.7901°]

June 8, 2023 Fieldwork at Muddy Creek (12N 520729, 4246929) [38.3703°, -110.7627°]

June 9, 2023 Fieldwork at Salt Wash (12N 504648, 4260207) [38.4902°, -110.9467°]

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