Crew 290 Mid-mission Research Report – 13Jan2024

[title Midmission Research Report – January 13th]
[category science-report]

Mars Desert Research Station

Mid-Mission Report

Crew 290 – Project MADMEN

Jan 7th – Jan 20th, 2024

Crew Members:

Commander and Health and Safety Officer: Madelyn Hoying

Executive Officer and Health and Safety Officer: Rebecca McCallin

Crew Scientist: Anja Sheppard

Green Hab Officer: Benjamin Kazimer

Crew Engineer: Anna Tretiakova

Crew Journalist: Wing Lam (Nicole) Chan

Crew Projects:

Title: Project MADMEN

Author(s): Madelyn Hoying and Rebecca McCallin, with full-crew participation

Objectives: Our mission objective is to identify and characterize microbial life via metabolic assays based on the sulfur cycle.

Current Status: Soil samples have been collected from 5 field sites with diverse geologic profiles that indicate potential for microbial activity. Measurements in the field include salinity, temperature, and ATP readings at surface level, 3-inch depth, and 6-inch depth at each site. Starting on EVA 07, pH measurements are also conducted in the field at surface and 6-inch depth. In the Science Dome, these samples are diluted and incubated in our novel microfluidic device to promote microbial growth for detection, then flushed after 24 hours to investigate through microscopy, with our first set of samples showing growth. pH measurements are taken of the soil samples in a dilution with various salts found on Mars that could also promote metabolic activity of extremophiles. The crew is targeting evaluation of at least 6 sample sites. Collected samples are compared for further analysis in the Science Dome based on depth profiles of the geology (uncovered while digging) and quality of field measurements obtained, driving collection from more than the 6 sites required for full analysis.

EVAs: 3 (EVA 04, 06, 07). One field site (EVA 04) was collected from a member of the Curtis foundation, where gypsum and sandstone were prominent under a smectite bed indicating a depositional environment with water followed by a period of dry climate. EVA 06 resulted in 2 field sites: one from a valley between two Brushy Basin members with evidence of anhydrite, to contrast with another collection site in a dried riverbed with conglomerate oyster reefs. EVA 07 saw sample collection in alternating siltstone and mudstone bands with gypsum deposits, with field pH measurements introduced into the procedure. An additional 3-4 EVAs are currently anticipated to select the best sites for further investigation.

Title: Evaluating Psychosocial Impacts of Mars Mission Architectures

Author: Madelyn Hoying

Objectives: This project seeks to compare psychosocial interactions among crew and emergency response capabilities between Mars mission architectures. Results from this single-site architecture test will be compared to previous dual-site architecture experiments developed and tested by MIT.

Current Status: The on-site investigator does not read questionnaire results while participating in the analog mission; as such, a “current status” check can only show the number of completed surveys. All participants have been submitting daily surveys, with one participant having missed one survey.

EVAs: None (although EVA inputs from other projects are valuable to the study).

Title: Ground Penetrating Radar for Martian Rovers

Author: Anja Sheppard

Objectives: This project is focused on collecting Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) and stereoscopic camera imagery data in a Martian analog environment. Post-analog data processing will focus on using this data for machine learning applications.

Current Status: After some reconstruction and problem solving from shipping, REMI the robot is at a nominal status for data collection. REMI has collected data at 16 field sites around the MDRS Hab and at Tharsis Montes, making for over 200 GB of camera, radar, and GPS data. Anja (Crew Scientist) has been perfecting the field protocols for running REMI during EVAs, including characterizing the battery performance during cold temperatures. REMI is primarily focused on data collection, as data processing will occur post-analog.

EVAs: 4

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