Journalist Report – January 1st

[Sol 1] [New Year, New Planet]

The first sunrise of 2018 broke the horizon at approximately 7:40 am this morning and lit the sky with a fiery glow not unlike the sea of ochre shades below. The crew roused with little hesitation and started the day with a yoga session led by our executive officer, Kshitij Mall. By 9 am the team had donned our EVA suits and capitalized on the morning light to conduct photo shoot. It was also our last chance to enjoy the outdoors while still being able to take our helmets off.

With the crew portraits obtained, the crew returned inside the habitat to indulge in a delicious New Year breakfast of fruit crêpes, cooked for the team by yours truly. At noon, the airlocks were shut from both sides and the simulation began.

But our crew isn’t one to vegetate inside the habitat (as cozy as it can be). Almost as soon as the simulation had begun, our ardent commander, Max Fagin, had 4 of us suiting up for our first EVA. The purpose was to analyze rock samples a short distance south of the hab and the EVA also served as an important test of our spectrometer and radio navigation equipment. Upon our return, the crew engineer, Melanie Grande, used some surplus time to replace the window on the outer door of the southern airlock.

Though the EVA was short, it has given the team much to think about. We have since been discussing various logistical items and how to iron out minor bugs in our EVA equipment.

Justin Mansell, MDRS Crew 186 Journalist

P.S. Daily photos attached. Picture of the day: 01Jan2018 Happy New Year.jpg

Journalist Report – December 31st

Sol 0 – Basic Training

Today the crew completed the last of our training. It was a busy day that began with bidding farewell to crew 185 as they departed the habitat and headed for home. We did our best to help them pack and promptly filled the vacant hab with our own cargo.

Prior to lunch we met with the station’s director to receive a full briefing that reviewed much of the procedures taught to us by crew 185 yesterday. We subsequently took a brief break, which we utilized for lunch and to finish moving into our staterooms.

Our final training task was to learn how to don the realistically bulky space suits. Our commander, Max Fagin, led the briefing based on his experience on a prior mission. With the entire team suited up, we explored the local area on a practice EVA that allowed us to become familiar with the limited mobility afforded by the suits.

Tonight we will celebrate the new year to the taste of lentil soup, oven-baked ziti, and fudge brownies – all cooked by our crew’s geologist and signature Italian chef – Cesare Guariniello.

We plan to formally enter the simulation late tomorrow morning.

– Justin Mansell, MDRS Crew 186 Journalist

Journalist Report – Dec 30th

Sol 12 – Crew 185 and a half

Everything eventually comes to an end, even the greatest experiences in your life. This time, it is really the end of our Crew. Crew 185 is dead. Long life to Crew 186!

This morning, we woke up on the Earth. What a pleasure to feel the light of the sun or the cold and dry wind of the desert on your skin, without a foggy helmet!

After a quick breakfast, we finished to clean the Hab and to pack all our experiments (including X-1 and its 200 pounds giant box!). You have probably no idea of the quantity of dust that you can have inside the Hab after two weeks of simulation, even if we all had inside and outside shoes. 😉

Then, we welcomed Crew 186 and we presented them the Hab, the Greenhouse, the Science Dome, the Observatory… and we explained them how the base works, how to do a report for mission support or how to optimize their water consumption in the desert. We had a nice dinner together and a very pleasant evening. I am very confident that they will be an amazing crew!

Greetings from our good old blue planet,

Thibault ex-Exo and Spacesuit Engineer for Crew 185

Journalist Report – December 29th

[Sol 11] [Atmospheric reentry]

We are now all seated and fastened in our space capsule. Take-off is imminent so I have just a few minutes to tell you about this last day at MDRS.

We woke up at 8 am and we had a pleasant breakfast together. Then, John and Ilaria did a long EVA with two ATVs. They went to a place quite far and northern from the Hab. This area is very interesting because it looks like the Moon (hence its name: Yellow Moon). It was our last EVA of the mission and they achieved all their objectives. Congratulations to them!

Then, after lunch, we played a game and we finished all the social sciences and psychology studies that we carried out during the mission. At the end of the afternoon, we cleaned the whole MDRS base, made an inventory of the food and packed everything that we need to take with us back to the Earth.

I really enjoyed our two amazing weeks here at MDRS. No matter the problems that we faced, we all learned and faced them together as a team. Beyond our scientific achievements, it is the human experience that I will carry back with me to the Earth. What an adventure!

T minus 10, 9, 8…

I would like to thank the Mars Society and its French chapter as long as I can do it.

…7, 6, 5…

For the last time, greetings from the Red Planet,

4, 3, 2, 1…

Boosters ignition and lift off!

Thibault, ExO and spacesuit engineer for the Crew 185

Journalist Report – December 26th

After having breakfast, we started charging the battery to be sure that the generator run during the whole night. Then we tested a GPS device and a new concept of drone controller. As we prepared for the EVA, we took a group picture of the crew wearing spacesuits. Arno, Thibault and John then tested the new drone controller on the X-1 spacesuit. Unfortunately, it quickly ran out of power. We thus did the engineering check and a communication experiment. As we finished the EVA three hours later, we had a well-deserved lunch. Then we played a board game and poker before fulfilling the daily human factor experiments. We started the generator early today, as the clouds were gathering on the horizon.


Journalist Report – December 22nd

[Sol 4]

And we are back to red! After 24h of snow and landscapes looking more like Europa than Mars, the sun is shinning again and the temperatures are positive.

Today, we did a short walking EVA to pick up geological samples around the Hab and to see if X-1 is capable of doing it. We brought back a dozen interesting rocks and samples of soil.

Then, this afternoon, we practiced CPR with John to be sure that we would be able to do it if needed. We all managed to rescue Phil the mannequin successfully!

The crew is doing great so far. The only concern is that our water supplies are running low, even though we are careful and didn’t have a shower yet. We discussed tonight how to make it even lower. Hopefully, we will have enough water for the rest of the mission. Think of us when you will have your next shower, it is a dream here!

Greetings from the Red Planet,

Thibault, ExO and spacesuit engineer for the Crew 185

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