Mission Plan – March 31st

Crew 296, MarsUCLouvain 2024, is composed of 8 members. Each of us will be conducting experiments to broaden our knowledge about Mars and space travel.
Following in the report, you will find precise descriptions of the experiments we will be conducting.
This mission will be considered successful if, first, all our members come back safely to Earth, and if we manage to conduct our experiments for the full duration of the mission.

I will be conducting two experiments.
The aim of the first experiment is to test the extent to which a device for capturing and recognizing finger-based gestures can be impacted by extreme experimental conditions, such as those found in unfamiliar, restrictive or even hostile environments for human beings.
To this end, crew members will test the TapStrap, a ring-based gesture capture devices. This test will be carried out once before the mission, then three times during the mission. The efficiency, effectiveness and subjective satisfaction of crew members in using these devices will be evaluated.
A second experiment will test the extent to which drone piloting can be impacted by the same extreme conditions. The experiment will also be repeated four times.
From the analysis of the data collected, we hope to draw lessons about the use of interactive applications in extreme conditions, using different modalities of interaction.

Space is a dangerous and relentless, throwing challenges to everybody who dares venture into the unknown. Collecting and understanding data from an alien world is key to survival, that is why my experiment is going to be about the study of the danger of dust from Martian storms. These storms are not very well understood and the dust they pick up can be hazardous for the vital equipment such as the solar panels. I will use two weather stations that will track luminosity, air pressure, wind speed and temperature for two weeks and use my mapping skills to figure out if the environment around the MDRS is suitable for sensitive equipment or not. One of the weather stations will be stationary during the two weeks and the other will be mobile, moved each day to a new location to try and gauge the exposition to dust and wind.

An overlooked aspect of a Mars exploration mission is the selection of the landing site location. Whether it is for the initial landing, or for the establishment of a base, the chosen location must meet a lot of mission-critical criteria. Most orbital-produced topographic maps of Mars suffer from a of lack of spatial resolution. My research project will hence be focused on the production of high-fidelity topographic maps of the study area using a method known as photogrammetry, along with UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) technology.

During the M.A.R.S. UCLouvain mission, team members will be confronted with an unpredictable environment. A great deal of preparation is required to cope with unexpected situations. To support the crew and help them carry out tasks and make the right decisions, I propose to use an artificial intelligence (AI) stored locally on a computer.
The AI would be trained throughout the year with mission information, such as scientific objectives, technical constraints and safety protocols. In this way, it could provide useful information and advice tailored to the specific circumstances of the mission.
AI could be used as a tool similar to ChatGPT, enabling team members to ask questions and get answers quickly and easily. It could also be used to monitor environmental conditions and report any significant changes that might affect the mission.
To take the idea a step further, I propose transforming the AI into a voice assistant using a program. This would enable team members to communicate with it without having to use a keyboard or screen, which could be particularly useful during spacewalks or in other situations where the hands are busy.

In the MARSISS study (2023/18DEC/530), we want to investigate various health parameters, ranging from immunity to psychology features, before, during and after simulation. These will be assessed during a two-week Martian simulation, involving group isolation and the absence of communication with the outside world. Young, healthy participants will receive a placebo or a supplementation with a probiotic, Lactobacillus helveticus (LH). This bacterial strain has been reported to have a positive influence on sleep and stress management in the scientific literature. Regarding the data and samples to be collected, stress levels will be measured through several biomarkers such as salivary cortisol and aMMP-8 levels, heart rate and heart rate variability. Body temperature and oxygen saturation, variables associated with sleep, will be recorded alongside sleep quality and quantity. The possible impact of LH on immunity will also be a focus of study. Thereby, the production of antibodies and cytokines in blood and saliva, as well as the population of immune cells present in the blood, will be studied. On top of that, we will collect urines to assess neurotransmitters related to stress levels as well as their metabolites together with faeces to determine the presence of the bacteria studied. In addition, several self-report questionnaires will be completed by participants to assess personality, perceived stress levels, daytime sleepiness, and personal satisfaction with sleep. The aim of this research is to improve our understanding of the living conditions and modifications undergoing in the human organism during exposure to the simulation environment, and to propose possible measures to improve the daily lives of those working in space before, during and after their mission(s).

Imane : Stress (urines + saliva) + faeces
Alba : Immunity (saliva and blood)
Arnaud : Sleep (physiological data + sleep questionnaires) + Stress (physiological data + urines)
Loriane : Psychology (personality questionnaire)

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