Mission Summary – May 24th

Mission Summary

Mission: 299

Dates: 05-12-2024 – 05-24-2024

Author: Prakruti "Pari" Raghunarayan, Mission Commander

We were merely freshmen in college when we began working towards this. Our now Executive Officer, Avery Abramson, came to me with a great idea to get us ambitious undergraduates to work on making progress towards sustainability and space exploration. Knowing other incredible people with similar interests, we assembled the group of people at the University of Texas at Austin that you know as the Bevonauts.

We had many meetings and brainstorm sessions before finally settling on and working towards what became our proposal: "The Frontiers of Martian Geology and Spectroscopy." The goal of this project was to essentially be able to bring back spacecrafts sent to Mars making for sustainable space travel. The sustainability aspect increased when we decided if we want to get to Mars, we should also be able to inhabit it and make use of the natural resources. The three subprojects were born there: Aravind, Noah, and I would work on making use of natural materials and complementing it with what we know and use to grow and sustain life on Mars, Rishabh would work on drone mapping that can be purposed for search and rescue, and Avery and Kristina would make progress on the space weather and solar physics front.

Towards the end of the mission, despite a few technical hiccups, Kristina and Avery made great progress conducting research on Mars. They learned about solar and robotic imaging, as well as image processing. After the conclusion of this mission, the scientific research will continue, as there is extra time saved on the SkyNet account for additional observations via the Robotic Observatory in New Mexico. There are also two more images to process from the Musk Observatory. Avery and Kristina enjoyed their time at MDRS and look forward to finishing their research projects on Earth.

Anomalies were not just present in the GreenHab. As expected of any space station, maintenance was a primary responsibility of the Crew Engineer – a duty at which they excelled at. During the 12-sol mission, the Crew Engineer repaired and replaced Hab Tunnel zip ties, and the astronomy laptop boot drive. Apart from corrective maintenance, the engineer made sure that the Hab was functioning nominally by monitoring and emptying the toilet, calculating water levels, and inspecting the entirety of the station’s facilities in the midst of uncertain power supply.

Lastly, on the materials front, Noah, Aravind, and I made significant progress–but are not yet done. We have determined the mock grade Martian soil would actually be alright to sustain life as we know it if complemented with whatever nutrient they are missing. We tested this on radishes. Usually, this can be done with cardboard, organic matter, or something like clay, silt, or sand (depending on the deficiencies). We were also able to exfoliate the materials to the point where they can take some samples from MDRS and get them to spectroscopy labs and have them measured, We will learn the uses of natural material from this and be able to take these principles and studies to Mars!

As I write this, I am aware of the great progress my great crew has made. I am grateful to have such a young, ambitious crew. It gives me great hope for the future of space exploration. We have ventured off to Mars and started this journey when we were literally children (like genuinely) and as we arrive back to Earth we come back as adults, knowing that the responsibility of sustainable space travel lies in the hands of our generation. We are grateful to have contributed to something bigger and hope to do more.

Mission complete. Mission successful. Thank you.

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