Mission Plan – June 3rd

Martian Biology 4 (MDRS 298) Mission Plan – June 3-10, 2024

This is the fourth non-simulation mission in the Martian Biology program, which seeks to understand the biodiversity of the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) operational area, both to better support analog missions and to understand this unique biome. The crew consists of Dr. Shannon Rupert, Dr. Jordan Bimm, Samantha McBeth, Jacopo Razzauti, Olivia Drayson, and Paul Sokoloff.

In 2024, we will focus the efforts of our multiple projects at three study sites: Collie Wash (38.32626, -110.67395), the lower slopes of the Henry Mountains (38.07799, -110.91507), and the San Rafael Swell via Temple Mountain Wash (38.66577, -110.67774). Each location would be visited twice – once early in the week to deploy any traps or monitoring devices required, and again at the end of the week to retrieve the samples and/or loggers.

We will continue work on studying the plant and lichen biodiversity of the station through a collections based inventory. We will deploy trail cameras at these locations to better understand the vertebrate diversity at these locations, comparing the data with those available through citizen science platforms (i.e. iNaturalist). We will continue to sample insect diversity with a focus on mosquitos. We will continue to support research into the historical understanding of Martian analogs and astrobiology. We will collect water samples at the study sites to better understand microplastic contamination in the area.

Mission Itinerary:
Monday June 3: Afternoon trip to Collie Wash to collect deposit loggers and traps.
Tuesday, June 4: Science Day on lower slopes of Henry Mountains.
Wednesday, June 5: Science Day at Temple Mountain, San Rafael Swell.
Thursday, June 6: Return to Collie Wash, and collect at waterways along the highway.
Friday, June 7: Return to lower slopes of Henry Mountains.
Saturday, June 8: Return to Temple Mountain, San Rafael Swell.
Sunday, June 9: Flex day.
Monday, June 10: Cleanup at MDRS, mail specimens and gear from Hanksville PO, team leaves MDRS for GJ.

Paul Sokoloff

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