Final Mission Summary – Crew 265

Crew 265 – Mars Society

Crew Commander/Cartographer: Marc Levesque (United States)
Executive Officer/Crew Engineer: David Laude (United States)
Crew Engineer/Health and Safety Officer: Sergii Iakymov (Ukraine)
Crew Journalist: Sarah Treadwell (United States)
Mapping Technician: Benino Blanco (Mexico)
Mapping Technician: Isai Licea (United States)

The overall objectives of Crew 265 projects were to assess potential improvements to Mars Desert Research Station operations, increase its media awareness, and assess the quality of station batteries. Projects included testing a new radio communications system, updating the EVA planning map, tracking energy consumption, analyzing equipment device batteries, and increasing social media presence. The crew’s daily priority was to maintain and operate MDRS facilities, vehicles, and equipment in a safe manner. Below is a summary of accomplishments during the mission.

Radio Communications Project

Marc Levesque, Commander/Cartographer

Communications between the Hab and EVA teams normally use small handheld radios on a UHF channel of the General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS). These radios rely upon line-of-sight, radio-to-radio communications, also known as simplex. Previous MDRS crews have noted a loss of communications between the Hab and EVA teams when the latter have traveled into areas beyond hills that block transmissions and reception, a common issue with UHF frequencies and line-of-sight communications in such terrain.  The focus of this project was to test a radio system using handheld VHF radios and a cross-band (VHF/UHF) repeater established on North Ridge.  This allowed the Hab to continue using the same UHF radios and channel as they normally would, while EVA teams used more powerful VHF handheld radios to transmit and receive through the repeater.

During MDRS 265, the project radio system was tested during 10 EVAs, collecting 60 data points to record voice transmission quality at the Hab on both the VHF radios through the repeater and a UHF GRMS channel via simplex. A simple coding system was developed for quantifying the clarity of radio reception: 3 = Clear and readable, little or no background noise; 2 = Readable with some background noise; 1 = Unreadable; and 0 = No contact. Using GIS, these points were plotted on a digital map for review and analysis. From the preliminary data collected, it was clearly demonstrated that the handheld VHF radios operating through the repeater allowed EVA teams to maintain clear radio communications with the Hab in all areas normally visited by MDRS crews. Additionally, when using high-gain antennas, the VHF radios continued to do so in more remote or deeper areas where there has been poor or no contact with previous EVA teams using UHF radios.  A full report with analysis, maps, and recommendations will be provided to the MDRS Station Director once all the data has been further organized and reviewed.

EVA Planning Map

Marc Levesque, Benino Blanco and Isai Licea, Mapping Technicians

The purpose of this project was to update and improve the MDRS EVA planning map to reflect current road conditions, points of interest, and cartographic elements to aid future crews in their EVA planning. During MDRS 265, all major roads and areas were reached by rover or on foot to capture this information. At the end of the mission, the mapping team met with the Station Director to review the information and to plan post-mission cartographic updating. This work builds upon the GIS files initially developed by Henrik Hargitai and others from 2006 to 2016 to create the current EVA map. To leverage time in the field, the mapping project EVAs ran run concurrently with radio communications testing. After a review of the collected data by the Station Director, a map will be generated post-mission for final evaluation.

Smart Home Technologies for an Analog Mars Habitat.
Sergii Iakymov, Crew Engineer

The project goal was to implement Smart Home technologies during a Mars analog simulation at MDRS. We studied how automated technologies could improve daily life at the station, how much time it would free up for the crew, and how it would help ground control to collect data from the station. To conduct this study, we used a Smart Home server, control terminal, temperature sensors, humidity sensors, air pressure sensors, door sensors, smart plugs, smart light control, and remote controls.

 

During the first phase of two days duration, we observed crew dynamics and how they used the station systems. During the second phase, we installed the following:

  • Upper Deck, one crew quarters: Smart light with multiply remote switches
  • Upper deck, living area: one Smart bulb, with remote switch
  • Upper deck, living area: Smart Home server with its own Wi-Fi, access terminal
  • Lower deck: door sensors on each airlock door
  • Lower deck: Smart bulbs with remote switches and motion sensors

 

During phase two, crew training was conducted on how to use Smart Home systems. Feedback from the crew was received and implemented, if possible. At the end of the mission, all devices were removed from the station. An extensive report will be provided after all the data have been reviewed.

Battery Testing

Dave Laude, Executive Officer/Engineer

The many portable devices at MDRS use batteries, all with finite life and various ages, resulting in some device failures for nearly every crew. For this project a battery analyzer was used to test all suspect failed EVA suits and all operating radio batteries. All batteries installed in EVA suits were tested in parallel by charging to full and then running the fans continuously, checking battery voltage at time intervals for up to four hours. Following the tests, labels were attached to each radio battery and suspect EVA suit batteries, indicating a date of test, battery capacity, and “good”, “fair” or “failed”. All results were sent to mission support.

 

The following tasks were accomplished:

  • Tested all suspect failed EVA suit batteries. All failed.
  • Tested all in-situ EVA suit batteries. Two failed.
  • Tested all radio batteries for capacity and attached result labels. None were in failed condition.
  • Full results published in Ops Report.

 

Additional engineering accomplishments:

  • Made Hab furnace operational on Sol 0.
  • Guided co-engineer on repairing a suit battery charger and EVA suit charger ports.
  • Submitted EVA suit design recommendations.
  • Developed method of accurate non-water contact measurement of static tank remaining water volume.

 

Social Media Presence

Sarah Treadwell, Crew Journalist

Over the course of the mission, I captured videos and photos of the crew. Some of this content was released during the mission, others are still in the finishing stages of editing and will be released post mission. As part of my crew responsibilities, I also wrote a daily journalist report and submitted official photos gathered from myself and fellow crew members.

I was able to obtain and post a video of a layman’s explanation of our crew’s mission by the Commander Levesque. I didn’t gather quite as many crew interviews as I had originally hoped, particularly from him, but I anticipate following up post sim to add to my project and possibly do a feature piece on our commander.

In terms of writing, I will be submitting some pieces to both Blue Marble Space Institute of Science and to the Mars Society.  I hope to particularly focus on the psychological experience of being here, as I don’t know if it’s possible to fully articulate and encapsulate thoughts while in sim, especially for me. I had some unique mental challenges I didn’t expect, and I’m eager to process and write about them.

As of Wednesday, May 4th, these are the analytics I could pull from my socials:

  • Twitter – Unfortunately I do not have professional analytics yet available to me there, but I estimate approximately 500+ interactions/impressions from posts there. The Mars Society also shared my posts on this platform, which I cannot track.
  • Instagram – 1,115 impressions, an 83.8% interaction increase since arriving here.
  • YouTube – 175 views since arrival on videos, with total watching time equating to 5 hours, a 994% increase. (I don’t post there often.)
  • Facebook – Approximately 1,600 direct impressions. This does not include shares by both individuals and the MDRS Facebook page and the Mars Society social media outlets.
  • TikTok – over 22,000 video views and nearly 500 new followers since arrival.

There will undoubtedly be more follows/shares/likes as time goes on. I will continue to post videos and pictures post mission. I also have not taken into consideration interactions with my website in these metrics. My hope is to compile post mission a summary written piece, with an emphasis on Marc’s story, to submit to a major publication (ex: Scientific American, National Geographic, Discovery, etc.) with the assistance of Blue Marble Space.

 

Finally, Crew 265 wishes to express its deep appreciation to The Mars Society for being selected to serve in a mission at MDRS and for the support it received from CapComs and especially Station Director Rupert. It is our hope that we performed well and helped to improve future MDRS operations and media presence.

 

Submitted by:

Marc Levesque

Crew 265 Commander

 

Supplemental Operations Report May 8th

(This is formatted for and is also being sent to the webteam, since we no longer have COMMS)

Supplemental Operations Report 8 May 2022

Name of person filing report: Shannon Rupert

Reason for Report: Routine

Non-nominal systems: Nothing to report

Action taken for non-nominal systems: nothing to report

Generator: Being manually run at night through Friday night, then offline and we are running on solar only

ScienceDome Dual Split: Off

Solar—Charge controllers off at night until Friday

Solar— Nominal

Notes on power system: nothing to report

Propane Reading, station tank – not noted %

Propane Reading, director tank— 80 %

Propane Reading, intern tank— 70 %

Propane Reading, generator—55 %

Ethanol Free Gasoline – 0 gallons.

Water (Outpost tank) – 500 gallons

Sojourner rover used: yes

Hours: not noted

Beginning charge: 100

Ending charge: 100

Currently charging: yes

Notes on rovers: Nothing to report

ATV’s Used: (Honda, 350.1, 350.2, 300): 350.1 reinstalled as an additional sign for no trespassing at the entrance to the station

Reason for use: Hoping to stop trespassing

Oil Added? No.

ATV Fuel Used: 0 gallons

# Hours the ATVs were Used: 0 hours

Notes on ATVs: Nothing to report

HabCar used and why, where? Yes, moved around campus. The crew helped me reinstall the rear window and we used gorilla tape to secure it in place until it can be properly fixed.

CrewCar used and why, where? Yes, to town and to Grand Junction to drop off crew and return to the station. On Thursday I emptied the power steering compartment. The old power steering fluid was black. Once the compartment was empty, I refilled it with about 20 oz of clear power steering fluid. This should be done again at the beginning of the fall field season.

Luna used and why, where? No

Campus wide inspection, if action taken, what and why? Nothing to report

General notes and comments: I removed the tarps from the tunnel between the RAM and Hab and will continue to remove the remainder this week.

Summary of general operations: Nothing to report

Summary of internet: I took Starlink from the Hab to my house before the crew left. I’ll keep it here until the Work Party.

Summary of suits and radios: Spacesuits and radios are no longer being charged.

Summary of Hab operations: There is only about 50 gallons of water in the static tank and the pump is exposed. I will add more water as soon as I can. There was evidence of rodents in the rear airlock where they sampled the trash.

Summary of Outpost operations: Thanks to Isai and Bennie from Crew 265, the fence was completed on Saturday. They also removed the remainder of the fence and took the rocks to fit the barrier for the replaced conduit. My entire weekend of planned work was completed in about an hour! It was awesome! Update on Sunday: The old mattress next to the trash trailer was blown onto the fence and destroyed the new fence. God forbid I ever actually get ahead here!

I replaced and reinstalled the new pump in the water tank and it’s working perfectly.

Summary of GreenHab operations: Nothing to report

Summary of ScienceDome operations: Nothing to report

Summary of RAM operations: I’m storing the tarps in here until I can get some help folding them.

Summary of any observatory issues: I still need to go into the robotic observatory and take the cameras off the telescopes. This work has been rescheduled for Wednesday, God willing and the creeks don’t rise.

Summary of health and safety issues: Nothing to report

Operations Report 2021-2022.docx
Operations Report 2021-2022.docx

Sol Summary – May 6th

Crew 265 Sol Summary Report 06-05-2022

Sol: 12

Summary Title: Return to Earth

Author’s Name: Marc Levesque, Crew Commander

Mission Status: Nominal

Sol Activity Summary:

Our crew woke up this morning to the crisp desert air of Earth. The first order of business was to retrieve the repeater on North Ridge, a much faster process than setting it up in EVA suits. The rest of the sol was spent packing our equipment and personal gear, finishing reports, starting to clean the station, and meeting with the Station Director to review the mapping and communications projects.

After a busy sol, we enjoyed one last dinner together.

Look ahead plan: Tomorrow we’ll finish cleaning the Hab and then depart for our respective homes or other destinations. We’re tired but satisfied with what we have accomplished.

Anomalies in work: None

Crew Physical Status: Good

EVA: None

Reports to be filed:

Sol Summary

Operations Report

Support Requested: None

Operations Report – May 6th

Crew 265 Operations Report Sol 12 06-05-2022

SOL: 12

Name of person filing report: Dave Laude/Sergii Iakymov

Non-nominal systems: Furnace. Room#2 doorknob. Percy’s left rear tail light is non-functional but the brake lights are working. Suit #6. Rover Perseverance.

Notes on non-nominal systems: Furnace is functional, but circuit breaker (labeled "air handler") is now off. The doorknob feels like it’s about to fail. Upon today’s inspection, we found Rover Perseverance has cracking plastic exterior side panels on both sides. They are located just below the seat bottoms.

ROVERS
Spirit rover used: No
Hours: 179.5
Beginning charge: 100
Ending charge: 100
Currently charging: Yes

Opportunity rover used: No
Hours: 97.6
Beginning charge: 100
Ending charge: 100
Currently charging: Yes

Curiosity rover used: No
Hours: 190.6
Beginning charge: 100
Ending charge: 100
Currently charging: Yes

Perseverance rover used: No
Hours: 239.6
Beginning charge: 100
Ending charge: 100
Currently charging: Yes

General notes and comments:

Summary of Hab operations: Executing end of sim cleanup checklist and Food Inventory list.

WATER USE:
Water (static tank): Not full. ~167 gallons.
Water (loft tank): 30 gallons
Water Meter: 158357.4 units

Static to Loft Pump used – No
Static tank pipe heater (on or off): Off
Static tank heater (On or off): Off
Toilet tank emptied: No

Summary of internet: Nominal

Summary of suits and radios: No known issues. Batteries charging.

Summary of GreenHab operations: NA

WATER USE: N/A

Heater: N/A

Supplemental light: N/A

Harvest: None

Summary of ScienceDome operations: Not used.

Dual split: Heat or AC, On or Off

Summary of RAM operations: None

Summary of any observatory issues: NA

Summary of health and safety issues: All crew members are feeling good.

Questions, concerns and requests to Mission Support: Thank you Mission Support for your service during our rotation!

Supplemental Operations Report – May 4th

Supplemental Operations Report 4 May 2022

Name of person filing report: Shannon Rupert

Reason for Report: May the fourth be with you! Happy Star Wars Day! Okay, so this is really just a routine report…

Non-nominal systems: Nothing to report

Action taken for non-nominal systems: nothing to report

Generator: Still being manually run at night

ScienceDome Dual Split: Off

Solar—Charge controllers off at night

Solar— Nominal

Notes on power system: Nothing to report

Propane Reading, station tank – 75 %

Propane Reading, director tank— 82 %

Propane Reading, intern tank— 70 %

Propane Reading, generator—61 %

Ethanol Free Gasoline – 0 gallons.

Water (Outpost tank) – 500 gallons

Sojourner rover used: yes

Hours: 168.8

Beginning charge: 100

Ending charge: 64

Currently charging: no (will plug in tonight)

Notes on rovers: Nothing to report

ATV’s Used: (Honda, 350.1, 350.2, 300): none

Reason for use: n/a

Oil Added? No.

ATV Fuel Used: 0 gallons

# Hours the ATVs were Used: 0 hours

Notes on ATVs: Nothing to report

HabCar used and why, where? No

CrewCar used and why, where? Yes, to town.

Luna used and why, where? No

Campus-wide inspection, if action taken, what and why? Nothing to report

General notes and comments: Nothing to report

Summary of general operations: Nothing to report

Summary of internet: Nothing to report

Summary of suits and radios: Nothing to report

Summary of Hab operations: Nothing to report

Summary of Outpost operations: Still working on the fence. It’s very hard to get t-posts into hardpan. The fence is now about half the size it was beyond the trailers.

Summary of GreenHab operations: Nothing to report

Summary of ScienceDome operations: Nothing to report

Summary of RAM operations: Nothing to report

Summary of any observatory issues: I need to go into the robotic observatory and take the cameras off the telescopes. Hoping to do this tomorrow.

Summary of health and safety issues: Nothing to report

EVA Report – May 4th

Crew 265 EVA Report 04-05-2022

EVA # 9

Author: Laude

Purpose of EVA: Social media filming by the Crew Journalist.

Start time: 0900
End time: 1140

Narrative: We made our way on foot to the base of Phobos Peak taking photos and videos along the way. Many interesting rock and sediment formations were seen with all displaying the forces of erosion likely by weather and water. We readily hiked a short way up to its southern slope and stopped at a nice nearly flat overlook, but could not view MDRS.

We then descended to the base and walked partway around the base looking for another perch. Finding none, we rehiked up to the previous overlook where Treadwell continued her work. We stayed there for about 40 minutes until she got everything she could think of and several minutes longer as Laude was reluctant to leave such an awesome view and time was on our side.

Finally, we made good speed and arrived at the hab 20 minutes early.

Destination: Phobos Peak

Coordinates (use UTM NAD27 CONUS): UTM NAD27 CONUS 519324 4250177

Participants: Laude and Treadwell

Road(s) and routes per MDRS Map: Walking to Phobos Peak.

Mode of travel: Foot

EVA Report – May 4th

Crew 265 EVA Report 04-05-2022

EVA # 10

Author: Levesque

Purpose of EVA: Long-range communications testing

Start time: 1300
End time: 1600

Narrative: The EVA team drove to Zubrin’s Head and then proceeded on foot to a point 500 meters west for a comms check. They returned to the rovers and drove down the road to repeat the process on foot on a road near White Rock Reservoir and later in White Rock Canyon to the south. They next drove back to the junction of Cow Dung Road and a rough road leading to Barrainca Butte and walked on foot from there to conduct two comm checks along that road. After completing all checks, they returned to the rovers and drove back to the Hab, having to stop twice because of a rover’s overheating.

Destination: Zubrin’s Head, White Rock Canyon, Barrainca Butte areas

Coordinates: UTM NAD27 CONUS 518804 4247962, 520100 4248538, 515968 4254298, 520369, 4247380, 519554 4247285, 518956 4247098

EVA Participants: Iakymov, Blanco, Licea

Road(s) and Routes per MDRS map: Cow Dung Road, Zubrin’s Head, White Rock Reservoir and Canyon, and Barrainca Butte.

Mode of Travel: Perserverance and Opportunity and on foot.

Sol Summary – May 4th

Crew 265 Sol Summary Report 04-05-2022

Sol: 10

Summary Title: Yeoman’s Service

Author’s Name: Marc Levesque, Crew Commander

Mission Status: Nominal

Sol Activity Summary:

The radio repeater battery finally called it quits after a cold night and yeoman’s service for nine sols, far beyond expectations.

Prior to the morning’s EVA departing, a discussion was held with the Station Director and crew members on how best to replace the battery, in sim or not. After some discussion, it was decided to quickly complete the replacement out of sim to maintain repeater operation, which was subsequently accomplished.

Following that, two EVAs were completed. Social media filming was done during a climb of Phobos Peak, and another EVA conducted comms checks south of the Hab in the White Rock Canyon and Barrainca Butte areas.

Look Ahead Plan: One EVA is planned for tomorrow and continued activity on mission projects. Work will also begin on end-of-mission reports, as the crew will be going out of sim on Friday morning.

Anomalies in work: None

Crew Physical Status: Good

EVA: None

Reports to be filed:

Sol Summary
Operations Report
HSO Report
Crew Journalist
EVA Request
EVA Report
Pictures and Picture of the Day

Support Requested: None

Operations Report – May 4th

Crew 265 Operations Report Sol 10 04-05-2022

SOL: 10

Name of person filing report: Dave Laude/Sergii Iakymov

Non-nominal systems: Furnace. Room#2 doorknob. Percy left rear tail light is non-functional but the brake lights working.

Notes on non-nominal systems: Furnace is functional and we remain cautious limiting to day use only. Doorknob feels like it’s about to fail.

ROVERS
Spirit rover used: No
Hours: 179.5
Beginning charge: 100
Ending charge: 100
Currently charging: Yes

Opportunity rover used: Yes
Hours: 97.6
Beginning charge: 100
Ending charge: 98
Currently charging: No

Curiosity rover used: No
Hours: 190.6
Beginning charge: 100
Ending charge: 100
Currently charging: Yes

Perseverance rover used: Yes
Hours: 239.6
Beginning charge: 100
Ending charge: 78
Currently charging: No

General notes and comments:

Summary of Hab operations:

WATER USE:
Water (static tank): Not full. ~200 gallons.
Water (loft tank): 33 gallons
Water Meter: 158315 units

Static to Loft Pump used – Yes
Static tank pipe heater (on or off): Off
Static tank heater (On or off): Off
Toilet tank emptied: No

Summary of internet: Nominal

Summary of suits and radios: Batteries charging.

Radio battery capacity testing has ended. 5 have >= 80% of new capacity that I call "Good" and 6 have >=60% and <80% that I call "Fair". None were <60%. Test results are on a label sticking to each battery.

For Scott Davis: I tried setting the one-piece suit #9 waist belt one notch lower (Lowest) and found it helpful in reducing shoulder weight to an acceptable level. Also, a good way to prevent over-discharging of the batteries and thus extending life is to use an electronic switch with an under-voltage cut-off with hysteresis for the fans (cutoff around 11.7V or ~ 90% discharged).

Summary of GreenHab operations: NA

WATER USE: N/A

Heater: N/A

Supplemental light: N/A

Harvest: None

Summary of ScienceDome operations: Not used.

Dual split: Heat or AC, On or Off

Summary of RAM operations: None

Summary of any observatory issues: NA

Summary of health and safety issues: All crew members are feeling good.

Questions, concerns and requests to Mission Support: Per Sergii’s calculation and comparison to the known static tank volume the water meter is pretty accurate. The meter is only 2.5% off on its readings from our calculated water usage.

Also, Dave has devised a method of more accurate water gauging of the static tank and verified by Sergii. It involves lowering a tape measure end down to just above the surface of the water. One will see the reflection of the tapes and easily know when to stop.

The distance from the top of the black rim to the surface is measured in meters and a simple formula is applied. It has been verified by calculation of a full tank to be 555 gallons, not to the rim, but to where the tank’s upper portion suddenly curves inward. Also, by use of the now known accurate meter.

Vol(gallons)=642-600H where H is the measure reading in meters (I know I’m mixing units of measure. It can be converted to any units).

It should be noted that the bottom 5cm (a guess) is not included as the pump will need some depth to work.