EVA Report – May 15th

Crew 281 EVA Report 15-05-2023

EVA # 1

Authors: Ritupriya Patil (Executive Officer), Ana Pires (Crew Scientist)

Purpose of EVA: Training EVA + communication test with crew members and with the hab; test some of the geo-technologies

Start time: 8:27 AM

End time: 10:55 AM

Narrative: Crew of 3 took our first steps on the red planet. It was exhilarating to look at the red landscapes through the glass helmets of the newly donned spacesuits. The crew drove Curiosity and Perseverance to Cow Dung road and stopped at Marble Ritual.
The EVA was challenging since it was the first and took place right after a stormy and rainy night that added to the difficulty while walking on the muddy/slippery EVA site. The crew was able to gain experience for future traverse planning. The collected data (more than 200 measurements) will contribute towards the development of cartographic maps and geotechnical zoning of the region.

Overview of EVA

Operations check of Schmidt Hammer and Equotip (non-destructive testing equipment) and taking measurements for scanline and walk around for 100 m.
See how long it takes to complete one scanline for future EVA strategy.
Accomplish training goals for walking around the suit

Issues Experienced During EVA

The headset 4 for spacesuit comms does not work and needs to be replaced with one that works. Headset 1 was used in lieu of headset 4.
The measurements with the Schmidt hammer required extra effort from the crew scientist and it was quite difficult to take horizontal measurement.
Operating the equipment took a lot of physical effort.
Despite the Equotip being an automated equipment the crew engineer found it challenging to operate the probe with one hand.


The crew successfully achieved the primary goal of the EVA by recording 200 measurements for rock hardness with Schmidt Hammer and Equotip. In order to acquire images of the first scanline and take pictures of the geological features the crew scientist left the fibreglass tape onsite. This was a lesson learned and after the debrief, it was decided that no equipment from the EVA should be left behind.
Communications between the Hab Comm and EVA Comm were tested with success.
This EVA enabled us to work on design suggestions for future traverse planning to carry out the geological-geotechnical characterization.
The training for walking in the spacesuits and driving the rovers was completed.
Due to bad weather from the previous night, we had to be more careful while walking the slippery site our first EVA day as well as driving with more attention on the muddy roads, while taking into account the recommendation from mission support.
Despite the initial challenge to acquire data with both the equipment, in the end, crew scientist and engineer are more prepared to handle the Schmidt Hammer and Equotip.
We need a board or other way to post information in the EVA room

Destination: Marble Ritual

Coordinates (use UTM WSG 84): 521500 E, 4251000 N

EVA Participants: 3: Ritupriya Patil (XO, EVA Lead), Ana Pires (Crew Scientist), KC Shasteen (Crew Engineer).

Road(s) and routes per MDRS Map: Drive on Cow Dung Road and walk east until Marble Ritual.

Mode of travel: Curiosity and Perseverance

EVA # 2

Author: Ritupriya Patil (Executive Officer)

Purpose of EVA: Training EVA + communication test with crew members and with the hab; geology recognition (observation of geological features).

Start time: 10:45 AM

End time: 12:00 PM

Narrative: Crew of 3 drove Spirit and Opportunity to Cow Dung road and stopped at Marble Ritual.

Overview of EVA

The EVA consisted of testing communications with Hab Comm and mission support. Along with training completion for spacesuit walk and driving the rovers. The crew walked south east of Marble Ritual about 100m to recover the fibreglass tape and did some observation of geological features. The EVA was shortened due tourist activities at EVA location.

Issues Experienced During EVA

Some tourists arrived at the EVA location and the crew lost some EVA time since they had to wait. We acknowledged the mission support’s help with the situation.
Due to the tourists, we truncated the EVA and were only able to do visual observations of the geological features and we were not able to document those.


Good recognition of the area was done based on geological features.
Communications between the Hab Comm and EVA Comm were tested with success.
Fibreglass tape was recovered from the site.

Destination: Marble Ritual

Coordinates (use UTM WSG 84): 521500 E, 4251000 N

EVA Participants: 3: Megan Kane (Commander, EVA Lead), Ana Pires (Crew Scientist), Rachel Jones (HSO).

Road(s) and routes per MDRS Map: Drive on Cow Dung Road and walk east until Marble Ritual.

Mode of travel: Spirit and Opportunity

EVA Report – May 12th

Crew 261 EVA Report 12-05-2023

EVA # 19

Authors: James Burk (Commander), Aline Decadi (XO), Erin Kennedy (Crew Roboticist)

Purpose of EVA: Search & Rescue Drill

Start time: 8:52 am

End time: 10:19 am


Overview of EVA
Today was our crew’s final exam. We planned a safety drill that involved the Commander and XO taking a rover on a new route never traveled before and getting stuck and needing to be rescued. In actuality, the Commander and XO planned this out and discussed with Mission Support the night before, and so the entire situation was meant to improve safety and awareness on the part of the crew on what to do in an emergency.

Commander James Burk and XO Aline Decadi took out to rover Spirit at approx 9am and drove north on the main road to the "Gateway to Candor" turn, on a planned traverse to the area south of Compass Rock, ostensibly to investigate a route to the southern ridge of Candor. We had never taken this route before on this mission and it is marked on the map as a footpath.

We lost comms as normal, when passing behind the north ridge near Pooh’s Corner, but we also did not make any attempt to reestablish comms throughout the EVA, as was part of the drill parameters. We did not turn on the Garmin tracking device since that would have made it too easy for the crew to find us, and we ignored a couple reminders from HabComm to do so.

Once on the Gateway to Candor, Commander Burk found a suitable place for the EVA Team to "hide" so that it would not be obvious where we had "gotten stuck".

Commander Burk and XO Decadi parked the rover and debarked. We removed our helmets, as discussed prior to the EVA, since this was a rescue drill and we were planning to break sim anyway. We had prepared to be at that location for a couple hours if needed.

We decided to take the opportunity to record a couple narrative videos about what we were doing, to help with XO Decadi’s education & outreach project. We explained the drill and send the SOS ping "MDRS Assistance Required" which our crew uses when it’s a non-emergency situation but we are requesting support from the Hab to the EVA team. We hoped that the crew would react well and work together to find us.

After only a few minutes, we heard a drone flying nearby, which was obviously Crew Engineer Julien Villa-Massone’s attempt to locate us. After exactly 20 minutes, a rover carrying Villa-Massone and GreenHab Officer Cecile Renaud appeared. They walked to our position and we confirmed it was a drill, then we spent about 10 minutes doing a debrief before returning to the Hab and having a longer debrief session with the whole crew.

We learned that the Hab Crew forgot that assistance required means that they are safe so they treated the entire situation as an emergency, and were worried that the EVA crew was not working on getting back in Comms. As mentioned, Mission Support was in on the drill and did almost nothing to help them, even telling them "No Drone" to ensure they were not relying solely on a drone for rescue.

Overall, we were very happy how the crew rallied and worked together to establish a rescue operation and arrived only 20 minutes after the initial SOS ping was sent. It was a great experience for all crewmembers and a great way to cap off our successful mission to the MDRS.

8:52 am EVA started
HabCom sent a message to EVA crew via Garmin InReach that tracking was not turned on

9:20 am EVA crew sent SOS Ping "MDRS Assistance Required" (Non-EMS) via Garmin InReach

9:20 am Received MDRS Assistance Required message via Garmin InReach
Mission Support (Sergii) was contacted, confirmed we should go (break sim)
First Aid kit bag was created, given to Cecile and Julien

9:27 am Cecile and Julien took Perseverance rover SOC: 98%

9:30 am Cecile and Julien on the road
EVA crew hears a drone sound (9:35 am?)

9:40 am Cecile and Julien at Gateway to Candor (website)

9:42 am Rescue team (Cecile and Julien) arrives to EVA crew (Aline and Julien)

9:38 am Cecile reports SOC 98%. They see the tracks of James and Aline’s rover that didn’t take the right road

9:50 am Cecile and Julien report that everything is OK with James and Aline, they are discussing about the drill

10:00 am Status update from Cecile: They are going to come back to the Hab

10:06 am Cecile reports Perseverance SOC: 94%

10:07 am Aline reports Spirit SOC: 75%

10:14 am EVA-2 Cecile and Julien in sight from Hab

10:16 am EVA-1 James and Aline in sight from Hab

10:17 am Cecile – Perseverance Hours: 129.0, SOC: 94%

10:17 am James – Spirit Hours: 222.0, SOC: 71%, plugged in

10:18 am 0 min Hab decompression requested (Sim already broken)

10:19 am Everyone is back in the Hab
Mission Support (Sergii) updated on the status

What Went Well
Crew all understood that it was clear to break sim (Safety over Sim)
Crew’s priorities were correct and everybody rallied
Everyone was safe at all times and nobody got hurt during the exercise
Rescue team found EVA team only 22 minutes from initial communication0
(James said his expectation was minimum 40 mins)

Areas for Improvement
Some time was taken (~ 2 mins) regarding asking about if the drone should be used to investigate first. Mission Support was firm "No Drone".

Disruption when initial Comms was happening

Confusion regarding retrieving a medical kit bag (there was none available, and the Hab’s main kit was taken)

Raspberry Pi stopped working / slow, mouse being intermittent, had to access webpage on computer, did not have URL handy.

There was only one person who could fly a drone, and they went on the rescue team.

There was confusion and lack of communication about who was going on the rescue team

Confusion on who was speaking on the radio, especially with similar sounding voices and accents. Confusion about who was acting as HabComm after Cecile (primary HabComm) left.

Cecile lost valuable data from her experiment that she was in the middle of collecting when the drill happened.

Issues Experienced During EVA-19
The crew back at the Hab did not fully understand the difference between our "MDRS Assistance Required" non-emergency/non-EMS ping and our Emergency SOS ping that is connected to the red SOS button on the Garmins. The former is meant when there is no crew injury or safety issue and the latter is for a true emergency when you need all-hands on deck including county EMS and Mission Support.
The crew was confused who was doing what role, and one person expected to go on the rescue team but wasn’t chosen. We plan to address this by recommending that all EVA teams have a designated rescue team.
The Hab does not have a quick carry medical kit for EVA rescues. In today’s case, the rescue team took the Hab’s entire medical kit with them.
There was confusion over who was HabComm after Cecile (who had been the primary HabComm) joined the rescue team.
The crew was not sure what emergency number they might need to call, other than trying to contact Mission Support.

Outcomes / Recommendations
The Hab should have a quick carry medical kit with needed supplies for broken bones, bleeding and other life threatening emergencies.
Every rover should have a first aid kit that is mandatory. This should be checked routinely throughout the mission.
Crews should designate a rescue team prior to EVA
Crews should carry a signaling device such as a reflective foil blanket in the emergency medical kit bag.
When using Radio Comms, people’s names should be used after breaking sim.
Need to remember to pause a bit before talking on Ch. 1 (repeater).
Role changing (ie changing who is HabComm) needs to be identified ("Audrey doing HabComm" or don’t use roles at all, just people’s names.
The person requesting assistance should advise if sim is being broken.
Water to go with the medical kit bag should be prepared
One person on the EVA should be assigned responsible for the medical kit bag
We are lacking some basic medical supplies for emergencies such as AED (see HSO recommendations as reported early on in the mission).
1st person to identify assistance required should make an announcement on radios regarding breaking sim
HabComm has to be located in the Hab, cannot have any science experiments or engineering work ongoing, just light work on a computer and focusing in on the EVA status. In today’s case, Cecile was trying to multitask and ended up losing valuable biological experiment data because of the perceived emergency.
Every crewmember should understand how to trigger a real SOS by using the dedicated button on the Garmin InReach. Pushing the actual button is not straightforward and it should be practiced. Garmin SOS can be cancelled within 20 seconds, so there is no risk to pushing the button as long as you cancel.
Every crewmember should understand the different ways to contact EMT in the case of a real emergency.
Crews should have a training procedure to call SOS prior to doing EVAs.

Destination: Southeast of Compass Rock where Gateway to Candor intersects with Spur of Galileo Road / Watney Road

Coordinates (use UTM WGS 84): 519800 E, 4251400 N

Participants: James Burk (Commander) (EVA Leader), Aline Decadi (XO).

Road(s) and routes per MDRS Map: Take Cow Dung Road to Gateway to Candor

Mode of travel: Rover

Vehicles you will be using (If applicable): Spirit

EVA Report – May 11th

Crew 261 EVA Report 11-05-2023

EVA # 17

Author: James Burk (Commander)

Purpose of EVA: Soil Gathering for Crew Biologist

Start time: 7:30 AM

End time: 8:15 AM


Overview of EVA

This was essentially a repeat of our crew’s EVA-3 to collect soil samples south of the campus. Commander Burk and Crew Renaud took Perseverance out to the same locations as EVA-3, collected soil, and returned without incident.

Issues Experienced

  • None



Destination: North side of Kissing Camel Ridge, just off Cow Dung Road.

Coordinates (use UTM WGS 84): 518300 E, 4249500 N

Participants: James Burk (Commander) (EVA Leader), Cecile Renaud (GreenHab Officer).

Road(s) and routes per MDRS Map: Drive towards Cow Dung Road, take it south to the entry to Robert’s Rock Garden, and walk east to collection site.

Mode of travel: Rover (Perseverance)

Crew 261 EVA Report 11052023


EVA # 18


Author: Erin Kennedy (Crew Roboticist)


Purpose of EVA:

Final testing of Atmosphinder robot

Observe the geological features of that region


Start time: 1:19 PM


End time: 4:37 PM




Overview of EVA


Today was the final testing of the Atmosphinder robot! Fixes were implemented that solved all of the problems from EVA-16 (yesterday). As a final test, the objectives were to test: 1) autonomous function activation based on anemometer wind speed and 2) computer vision with coloured card sequences.


1) Autonomous sensor-based function activation with the anemometer

The anemometer was activated, and the robot responded by changing the sail servo motor movements and LEDs. As the wind speed value hit different thresholds, the sail servo movements changed accordingly. Due to lack of wind, the anemometer was given a manual spin for the test. Two functions were tested, and both worked as expected. The result was prominent today owing to the servo motors functioning and the LEDs being brighter.

This test result proves that Atmosphinder was able to control its sail trim servos in response to the wind speed. This is an indicator that in the future, controlling the direction of the robot based on the current winds is possible.

2) Human-Robot Interaction experiment to activate functions based on coloured card sequences

EVA crew members Cecile and Julien showed the robot pink and green cards, and the robot responded by moving its sails accordingly. The EVA crew members then swapped positions, making the combination green and pink, and the robot responded by moving its sails in the other direction.

This test result proves that this is as an alternate method for human-robot interaction for astronauts, and is worth exploring further to improve the usability. This interaction style will be important when humans and robots need to collaborate on the surface of Mars.

Challenges were experienced regarding the positioning of the cards in front of the camera, and the angle of the cards as to not introduce any shadows onto them. The evaluation of a better technology, as reported in the EVA-16 report, still stands. Today the lighting conditions outside matched those that were used for training the embedded computer vision system. Benchtop testing was conducted prior to the EVA to confirm the camera could detect the coloured cards.


As a final destructive test, the robot was extracted from the rover and attempted to roll down a gentle hill at the Sea of Shells destination. Due to the warmer temperatures, the hot glue repairs became disconnected. This resulted in the structure not being sturdy enough to roll for a single revolution. This was not detrimental to the overall testing as all of the functional testing was completed earlier in the EVA.

EVA-18 was an extraordinary conclusion to the Atmosphinder project. The functionality worked, making it a wonderful culmination of the efforts for the past two weeks. Sharing the enthusiasm with the entire crew was extremely rewarding! Many thanks to the entire crew for contributing to this final EVA to make it a favourable result.


Issues Experienced During EVA-18




1) All Atmosphinder testing worked!

2) Obtained rock samples


Destination: Sea of Shells

Coordinates (use UTM WGS 84): 516400 E, 4255400 N

EVA Participants: Julien Villa-Massone (Crew Engineer) (EVA Leader), Cecile Renaud (GreenHab Officer), Erin Kennedy (Crew Roboticist), Kris Davidson (Journalist) (Not In Sim – Not Wearing Suit)

Road(s) and routes per MDRS Map: Cow Dung Road north to Brahe Hwy 1572, then north turn and stop at Sea of Shells

Mode of travel: Rovers

Vehicles you will be using (If applicable): Curiosity and Opportunity

EVA Report – May 10th

Crew 261 EVA Report 10-05-2023

EVA # 15

Author: James Burk (Commander)

Purpose of EVA: Exploration of Candor Chasma + Drone Flights to Capture Outreach Footage

Start time: 8:27 AM

End time: 10:55 AM


Overview of EVA

This EVA was one that Commander Burk has been looking forward to since his last mission, that of Crew 197 in Oct 2018. On Sol 5 of that mission (which was the last day of a 1 week special mission for the MarsVR project), the crew visited Candor Chasma using a now-undrivable route to the southern ridge. It was his favorite EVA of that mission because of the huge landforms on both sides of Candor and the spectacular views. He was eager to return to that location. Our crew’s EVA-10 was meant to return to that area, but was the wrong destination, because Commander Burk was given the mistaken impression (during conversations external to our crew & our mission) that in 2018 he had gone to Sommerville Overlook and not the southern ridge of Candor during that EVA. So, today was finally the day for him to visit that area again.

Our primary objective was to capture drone footage for the purposes of public Education & Outreach, especially for XO Aline Decadi’s work on behalf of the European Space Agency. We selected the crew for this EVA with that in mind — Crew Engineer Julian Villa-Massone for his expertise with drones and piloting, Commander Burk for his past (albeit limited) knowledge of the Candor area and also his skill to fly drones, and XO Decadi to direct the two drone pilots on what footage would work well for her E&O needs. Our HSO, Audrey Derobertmasure, was included to keep an eye out for any irrational exuberance on the part of the drone pilots (who, it needs to be pointed out, have both temporarily lost a drone already during this mission!). She would also have the responsibility of ensuring that everybody stayed hydrated and had frequent health checks.

Another objective was to continue testing of the ADAPA drone, as the spectacular scenery would be an asset for drone footage for the ADAPA team.

The crew selected Spirit and Perseverance for the mission with the rationale that it was a medium-distance EVA (ie, shorter than Lith Canyon or Sea of Shells) and it would be a good test of those two rovers to make the destination.

The crew set out with the goal of returning by 11AM to provide GreenHab Officer Cecile Renaud (who was acting as HabComm for this EVA) the ability to be able to return to her many experiment duties remaining for the mission.

Our target was to enter the floor of Candor on foot from the rover parking area on Galileo Road that is due southwest of Compass Rock (which we had previously used for EVA-7 and EVA-10) so that we could fly the drones down the middle of the geological complex, but we knew that would be hard to find and possibly unwalkable, so either the northern or southern ridges on the western part of the feature would also have worked.

We set out in both rovers, with Commander Burk and HSO Derobertmasure in the lead rover, Spirit, and XO Decadi and Crew Engineer Villa-Massone in Perseverance. We noticed that both rovers drained battery much quicker than the other pair we have, and Perseverance rapidly dropped into the 60s even before we made the turn to Galileo Road. It was not clear during the outbound traverse if we would be able to reach the destination, and Crew Engineer Villa-Massone reminded everybody of the SOC limitations and the potential need to abort, just after we made the turn to Galileo Road. However, the crew did make it to our “rover parking spot” southeast of Galileo Road without incident.

For this EVA we had a lot of gear to carry — four water bottles, three drones, a VR drone headset, and other accessories like spare batteries. We ended up using a small wooden box that was carried in tandem by Crew Engineer Villa-Massone and XO Decadi, who have similar height. The EVA team headed due southeast on foot from the rovers, carrying the gear, and looked for the entrance to Candor’s floor.

We walked a bit across the sandy scrub-grass terrain, with Commander Burk reminding everybody to watch out for Martian reptiles, and eventually found an overlook just southeast of Compass Rock which had a lots of fine-grained sand, which strongly resembled the Florida Gulf Coast beaches that Commander Burk frequented in his earlier days. He even placed his water bottle on the sand and rotated it to dig it into the sand, as he used to in Florida. It was a transient and happy connection that, for him, set the tone for the rest of the EVA.

Crew Engineer Villa-Massone set up the Adapa 360 drone for another (final) test flight. We were hopeful that the camera issue we experienced during the last EVA would resolve itself. He flew the drone for a few minutes along the length of the stretch of Candor we were near, and returned it to check the camera. It again had shut off, likely at the moment of takeoff due to a power spike (our leading theory). He attempted one more quick flight and the same thing happened with the camera cutting out shortly upon liftoff, so we moved on.

Commander Burk then launched his DJI Mavic Air 2 drone and made several passes over Candor, the EVA team’s position, and other landform elements nearby. Crew Engineer Villa-Massone also launched his DJI Mini 2 and did the same. HSO Derobertmasure commented “Drone Race!” as the two continued to work their video-capturing drones across and along the landforms. At one point, Commander Burk flew the drone close to the EVA team’s position using a downward sideways maneuver which made HSO Derobertmasure flinch, an outcome he had not intended and he quickly apologized to her. But the team was in good spirits and waved at the drones as the flew past, also taking photos of the landscape and themselves in different groupings.

After the two drones had returned, the EVA team discussed what to do next, as the primary objective seemed to be completed. They were mindful of the time, and wanting to return to ensure that their hard-working colleague GreenHab Officer Renaud would have enough time to finish her tasks in the GreenHab and Science Dome. The EVA team ultimately decided to continue exploring Candor on foot, to not fly any more drones, and to return to the rovers in 20 minutes, ensuring they would be back on campus by 11AM.

The team packed up their gear, and walked in a south-southwesterly direction along the northern ridge of Candor. They found another overlook approx. 200-300m from their previous position, which was almost directly south of Compass Rock. They took more photos and gathered some rocks and headed back to the rovers. They returned to the Hab without incident.

During the entire EVA, all crew members reported health at 5 and were in an exhilarated mood.

Issues Experienced During EVA 7

  • Adapa Drone did not record footage despite two attempts. Given the time available and environmental conditions, in depth troubleshooting was not possible. After a quick troubleshooting, we have determined that the issue was not fixable on site but a more thorough testing at the base would be required to exhaust all options. The issue is that the camera does not record videos after takeoff and loses power.


  • It is easy to reach the south side of Candor by continuing down south on the spur of Galileo Road (or it might be Watney Road??) after the “turn” at Compass Rock (I say “turn” because it is not a definable turn at all due to the washed out terrain south of Compass Rock). That southern spur is well-defined and well-traveled once you leave the washed out area.
  • Perseverance barely made it to our destination before getting to SOC 60 which would have required an abort. I could see it easily not making it. I feel it is risky for us to use Perseverance for any EVA that is not within the immediate vicinity of the Hab and maybe 2 km radius.
  • Spirit certainly has a lower battery capacity than Oppy and Curiosity, but it was able to do the whole mission today (including return trip) and stay well above 60.

Destination: Candor Chasma

Coordinates (use UTM WSG 84): 521500 E, 4251000 N

EVA Participants: 4: James Burk (Commander) (EVA Lead), Aline Decadi (XO), Julien Villa-Massone (Crew Engineer), Audrey Derobertmasure (HSO).

Road(s) and routes per MDRS Map: Drive to Cow Dung Road, then North to Galileo Road, then East/SouthEast to Compass Rock. Walk on foot to explore area.

Mode of travel: Spirit and Perseverance

Crew 261 EVA Report 05-06-2023


EVA # 16


Author: Erin Kennedy (Crew Roboticist)


Purpose of EVA:

1) Human-Robot Interaction experiment with Atmosphinder robot to activate functions based on coloured card sequences as detected with embedded computer vision

2) Autonomous sensor-based function activation with the anemometer and sails

3) Additional sail testing

Start time: 3:20 PM


End time: 4:10 PM


Overview of EVA

The half-sized Atmosphinder robot with electronics and sails was tested today. The objectives of the test were surrounding human-robot interaction while fully suited in astronaut gear. This comprised of two smaller tests: 1) autonomous function activation based on anemometer wind speed and 2) computer vision with coloured card sequences. The new code for these tests was integrated with the existing environmental sensor data logging code.

1) Autonomous sensor-based function activation with the anemometer

Two autonomous wind sensor functions were tested. The two functions varied in their granularity of thresholds of wind speed. The first test was successful, as controlled by the wind, without manual intervention, transitioning through each state correctly. To evaluate the performance of each of these tests, visual checks to the LEDs mounted on the robot were performed, as their patterns and colours correspond to the different states that control the sail trim servos. 

The second test worked for transitioning through 6 out of 8 thresholds without manual intervention. The last two thresholds were possible to reach with manual intervention, though the sail frame rotational issue was impeding the result, given those thresholds required more wind speed to meet. Additionally, a LED strip indicator was added to display the relative wind speed. This was also used to reference the performance of the wind tests with the gusts of wind. 

Overall, the result from the first wind test proved that Atmosphinder was able to change its functions from the wind sensor, as shown by the LEDs. In combination with controlling the sail trim servos, this is an indicator that in the future, controlling the direction of the robot based on the current winds will be possible.

2) Human-Robot Interaction experiment to activate functions based on coloured card sequences

The computer vision colour card sequence test was not guaranteed to work as designed given the lighting conditions differed from when it was initially trained. Initial training was conducted on a sunny day, whereas today’s conditions were overcast and cloudy. 

Two functions for the computer vision were tested. The first would move the sails to set positions. The second would move the sails in synchronised or opposite directions. Both use the same colour sequence detection. 

The pink and green colour combination sequence was tested on both tests, and the camera was able to detect them! As with the wind function testing, the LEDs were used to observe the state of the servo movements. The orange and green colour combination was tested at a larger angle. With the cards positioned properly, the camera was able to detect it! 


Delays to the EVA start time were encountered due to technical development and repair work that extended beyond the initial estimated time. This was communicated to some of the crew over messaging. The window of time for the EVA was still met, allowing testing to be performed outside in the relevant environment, which was valuable. The testing documentation created alongside the technical development greatly assisted during the EVA testing to serve as an evaluation guideline.

The EVA was aborted early due to inclimate weather conditions approaching. A debrief was conducted with the crew. It was helpful to hear their point of view in order to form a balanced perspective of the activity given Atmosphinder’s technical results from today’s testing. Extracting learning lessons from the entire crew’s experience was invaluable.

Appendix: Additional technical issues encountered:

– An error was encountered where once the combination was detected, the state would not exit. This resulted in needing to press the test button multiple times to arrive back at the computer vision testing mode.

– The variable to set the production vs development version was not set (#define OUTDOORS false). Resulting in the LEDs being dimmer, and slightly lower latency due to printf debugging statements.

– The lighting conditions differed from those that were used for training. Training would need to be done outdoors, where it was difficult to view the computer screen.

– The embedded computer vision camera tracks colour signatures, which are sensitive to different lighting conditions. A better approach would have been to track AR markers, also known as AprilTags. For an embedded solution, the OpenMV camera would be a better choice than the Pixy 1 camera (https://openmv.io/blogs/news/apriltag-marker-tracking-the-future-is-here). However, the decision to use Pixy 1 embedded computer vision camera was solely based on the fact that we had it available and had used it previously.

– Sail frame rotation about the axis parallel to the hoops. This rotation occurs over time, and with large gusts of wind. An attempt to solve with cord was unsuccessful. This issue has been presented in prior EVAs yet remains unsolved.

– The servo related problem noticed on a previous EVA appeared again on today’s EVA, meaning the problem was not resolved entirely. This will be checked again.

– ‘Party mode’ in the state machine did not activate due an off by one error of the total count of the number of states in the state machine (party mode being the final state)

Issues Experienced During EVA-16

[Procedural] The pre EVA Atmosphinder Field Test checklist was not followed, thereby the RAM garage door was locked, which required a crew member to unlock it (while maintaining Sim).

[Communications] Not everyone was kept up to date regarding time delays, as they were communicated over messaging. Next time the yellow radio will be used instead.

[Technical] A crew member in the observatory was not aware we had aborted the mission. They called on the black radio, since we were supposed to be on EVA, however the engineering airlock was locked, and she couldn’t get back in. Next time the yellow radio on Ch 1 from downstairs will be brought. 


1) The result from the first wind test proved that Atmosphinder was able to change its functions from the wind sensor. This is an indicator that in the future, controlling the direction of the robot based on the current winds will be possible.

2) Colour cards were easily used by the astronaut to show to the robot’s camera. The robot’s camera was able to detect, and perform functions based on it.

3) ‘Party mode’ included in the state machine ended up saving computer vision test #2, as this state would have been unreachable otherwise due to the off-by-one error

4) Gaining invaluable learning lessons from the experience of crew members during the debrief 


In front of the Hab (4250900 N, 518100 E)

Coordinates (use UTM WGS 84):  See above

EVA Participants: 4: Cecile Renaud (EVA Leader), Julian Villa-Massone (Crew Engineer), Erin Kennedy (Crew Roboticist), Kris Davidson (Journalist) (Not In Sim – Not Wearing Suit)


Road(s) and routes per MDRS Map: In front of the Hab

Mode of travel: Walking

Vehicles you will be using (If applicable): N/A

EVA Report – May 9th

Crew 261 EVA Report 09-05-2023

EVA # 13

Author: James Burk (Commander)

Purpose of EVA: Photo shoot outside Hab with suits on.

Start time: 6:45 AM

End time: 7:50 AM


Overview of EVA
Our crew suited up and went outside to capture several portraits of the crew at dawn, while the lighting was different from daytime, for the purposes of public outreach photos.

Issues Experienced


Destination: Immediate vicinity of main Hab.

Coordinates (use UTM WGS 84): 518400 E, 4250900 N

James Burk (Commander) (EVA Lead), Julien Villa-Massone (Crew Engineer), Kris Davidson (Journalist) (Not In Sim – Not Wearing Suit)

Road(s) and routes per MDRS Map: Walk outside of Hab.

Mode of travel: Walking

Crew 261 EVA Report 09052023

EVA # 14

Author:  James Burk (Commander)

Purpose of EVA: Drone Rescue of Julien’s Drone + Fly Adapa Drone to get footage.

Start time: 6:45 AM

End time: 7:50 AM


Overview of EVA
The EVA team successfully retrieved the lost drone with no issue.  They then proceeded to Lith Canyon and we lost comms for most of their time in that region.  They were able to stop and view (from outside the perimeter) the special region, and then proceed to Lith Canyon where they spent time flying a drone to capture the majestic scenery.  On the way back, they stopped near Pooh’s Corner to place a Meshtastic device that was requested by the remote EVALink team, so that we can test the idea of “breadcrumbs” which can extend the adhoc mesh network that the individual devices form.  Data was gathered and much drone footage was taken from the Adapa drone, and Julien’s DJI drone.

Issues Experienced
• [Technical] The crew found some inaccuracies on the exact road routes near Lith Canyon; the road indicated on our map is hard to find, and there is another, more prominent road, that is not indicated on our map.

• According to the EVA team, the use of one wheel drive on flat ground seemed to extend the rover’s range.  The benefits of this were discussed by the crew.
• The Special Region on the map is not well marked, and it would be easy for somebody to get lost and to enter the area.  Our crew made sure not to enter the area.
• We recommend use of GPS to navigate near and in Lith Canyon (see above issue) because roads are not easy to find and follow.


1. Location of Julien’s Downed Drone
2. Lith Canyon

Coordinates (use UTM WSG 84):
1. 518908 E, 4251236 N
2. 519000 E, 4256600 N

EVA Participants: 2: Cecile Renaud (GreenHab Officer) (EVA Lead), Julien Villa-Massone (Crew Engineer)

Road(s) and routes per MDRS Map: Take Cow Dung Road north to Lith Canyon

Mode of travel: Rovers (Curiosity & Opportunity)

EVA Report – May 8th

Crew 261 EVA Report 08-05-2023

EVA # 11

Author: James Burk (Commander)

Purpose of EVA: Flight Testing of Adapa 360 Drone including general observations of design and performance.

Start time: 10:06 AM

End time: 10:55 PM


Overview of EVA
We flew the ADAPA 360 drone just outside of the Hab for the first time. We observed that it needs to have the stabilization engaged to be able to fly in general. The stabilization should be disengaged when launching, however.

After the first test, we walked farther towards the sign and flew it again for a longer range to capture better scenic video.

Issues Experienced During EVA 7

[Procedural] Announce times of over the radio so that EVALink team can match up with telemetry later.

Destination: Immediate vicinity of main Hab.

Coordinates (use UTM WGS 84): 518400 E, 4250900 N

James Burk (Commander) (EVA Lead), Julien Villa-Massone (Crew Engineer), Kris Davidson (Journalist) (Not In Sim – Not Wearing Suit)

Road(s) and routes per MDRS Map: Walk outside of Hab to a suitable flat piece of ground for drone launch & landing.

Mode of travel: Walking

Vehicles you will be using (If applicable): N/A

Crew 261 EVA Report 05-06-2023

EVA # 12

Author: Erin Kennedy (Crew Roboticist), with inputs from Audrey Derobertmasure (HSO)

Purpose of EVA:
1) Find, investigate, and collect Gypsum crystals on the Glistening Seas region from selenite, the transparent form of gypsum. This relates to Atmosphinder experiment as it could be an analogous feature to CO2 gas jet expulsions in the Mars South Polar region
2) Atmosphinder electronics environmental sensor data logging
Start time: 1:05 PM

End time: 4:50 PM

Overview of EVA
EVA-12 ventured North of the Hab to the vicinity of the Valles Marineris region, located East of Cow Dung Road, and South of Brahe Highway. The objective was to find, investigate, and collect Gypsum crystals on the Glistening Seas region from selenite, the transparent form of gypsum. This relates to the Atmosphinder experiment as it could be an analogous feature to CO2 gas jet expulsions in the Mars South Polar region.
A briefing prior to the EVA ensured all EVA crew understood the plan. Atmosphinder in half-sized configuration (~1 m diameter) without the metal payload bay was included on the rover. The journey to the destination was done in parts to regularly check the status of the EVA crew. The rovers handled the terrain well, periodically needing 4 wheel drive on some of the inclines. The destination was reached without issue.
After walking on foot ~20 m off of the road, it became evident why this location is nicknamed “Glistening Seas”. Gazing across the horizon, sparkles could be seen from the sunlight reflecting on the crystals. Gypsum crystals protruded from the red-tinged dirt below. The EVA crew investigated a cluster of these and collected samples. The dirt surrounding the crystals was fine and a mixture of red and white coloured. The EVA crew investigated this area thoroughly, finding rocks of interest and additional crystals. The journey led to observing a cliff wall facing the crew. The crew was elated with the plethora of crystals and fascinating geological features!
A trek back to the rovers was made and Atmosphinder was extracted from the rover for a test. The wind gusts were powerful in this region as it was a clear plain. Two crew members stood downwind of Atmosphinder to be ready to intervene for a controlled stop. Atmosphinder was given an initial push, and it traveled ~70 m as propelled by the wind. Additional testing occurred, with the same results. The testing concluded after another hill test, with the halves of the hoops being severed. The result was compelling to observe a structure moving on its own, venturing to explore the vastness of Mars! The area was thoroughly checked for remaining pieces. The pieces were brought back to the rover.
The journey back commenced an hour before the close of the EVA window. Crew health checks were completed by the EVA lead, everyone was feeling great and in great spirits. We received coordinates to a point of interest of a crew member’s lost drone. We conducted a search for the lost drone, akin to a ‘geocaching’ activity. The search concluded without retrieving the drone, though admittedly, admiring the incredible geology at that point of interest. The journey back to the Hab commenced. The return to the Hab was completed. The Atmosphinder robot pieces, as well as the electronics which were data logging environmental sensor data for the EVA, was returned to the RAM.
The EVA-12 resulted in awe-inspiring observations, and making connections of those observations to Mars. New information was learned about Atmosphinder robot that would only be possible in this unique environment. The collected crystal samples will be further investigated through a microscope, shared, and whimsically gazed upon. Many thanks to the entire crew — both on the EVA, at HabCom, and behind the scenes!

Issues Experienced During EVA-12
1. [Technical] Radio range – Lack of comms due to no repeater
2. [Procedural] Julien flew his drone in high winds to follow the departing rovers and was forced to land it near Marble Ritual.

1) Collected samples of Gypsum crystals
2) Acquired visual imagery of analogous features to the south pole of Mars
3) Longest wind-propelled Atmosphinder roll
4) Atmosphinder electronics running environmental sensor data logging
5) Experiential confidence boost for some of the EVA crew members

4254710 N, 518040 E
Coordinates (use UTM WGS 84):  See above
EVA Participants: 4: Aline Decadi (XO) (EVA Leader), Audrey Derobertmasure (HSO), Erin Kennedy (Crew Roboticist), Kris Davidson (Journalist) (Not In Sim – Not Wearing Suit)

Road(s) and routes per MDRS Map:
Drive from Hab, Turn left, Go North on Cow Dung Road
Make a slight Left to continue North on Cow Dung Road towards Galileo Road intersection
Continue North on Cow Dung Road towards Brahe Highway intersection
If you have past Brahe Highway, you have gone too far
Park rover near (4254710 N, 517810 E)
Walk to destination (~0.3 km)
You have arrived at your destination!
Scout for crystals (~1.0 km, 0.75 hours)
Walk back to parked rover (~1.5 km)
Drive North to the intersection of Brahe Highway and Cow Dung Road
Make a 3 point U-turn at this intersection
Drive South on Cow Dung Road
Make a slight Right to continue South on Cow Dung Road past Galileo Road
Continue South West on Cow Dung Road
Turn Right onto Hab driveway
You have arrived at your destination!

Mode of travel: Rover and Walking
Vehicles you will be using (If applicable): Rover (Curiosity and Opportunity)

EVA Report – May 6th

Crew 261 EVA Report 06-05-2023

EVA # 9

Author: Erin Kennedy (Crew Roboticist), (with inputs from HSO Audrey Derobertmasure)

Purpose of EVA:

1) Testing of Atmosphinder prototype mechanised wind sails and improved towing method
2) Testing of Atmosphinder prototype descending hill with steeper grade

Start time: 11:27 am

End time: 1:50 PM


Overview of EVA

Prior to EVA-9, the EVA crew members were given a briefing on the objective of today’s Atmosphinder experiments and the procedure.

EVA-9 conducted Atmosphinder testing in the half-sized configuration (~1 m diameter) with sails (17″ x 28.5″) extending from the two hoops. The electronics were updated to include one sail trimming servo motor on each sail, and lights to indicate the trim position. The testing was divided into two sections: sail testing near the Hab and steeper grade hill testing near Phobos Peak. The robot and supporting parts were extracted from the RAM.

Sail testing took place in front of the Hab. The sail testing observed the performance of the trim motors with the gusts of wind. In all 3 positions and on both sides, the motors performed to specification. The force of the wind on the sail frame ranged from 2N to 9 N, as measured with force spring gauges. The reported wind speed was Wind – SSW 14 mph, Wind gusts – 33 mph. The wind on the sails was able to tilt the electronics payload bay to 30 degrees. This test built on learnings from EVA-6. The sail frame experienced rotation about the axis perpendicular to the bearing plate that the electronics payload bay mounts onto. This prevented further meaningful testing and experimentation from taking place. Limitations for the interaction with the electronics while in astronaut suits was noted.

The sails were uninstalled and returned back to the RAM. The robot (incl. electronics) was loaded into the Spirit rover in the same method as EVA-2, and securely fastened to the rover frame using the blue and grey tow rope from Curiosity (the tow rope was returned to Curiosity upon return). During the journey to the next location, the rover was stopped briefly to conduct a payload check after some bumpy portions, in order to ensure the robot was still secured in the rover. The journey continued while following a map to the point of interest destination.

Steeper grade hill testing took place in the vicinity of Phobos Peak, within close proximity to the road for transporting the robot. The rover was parked to the side of the road. The location was scouted on foot to determine the best hill. The candidate hill was approximately 2 meters tall, at an estimated 30 degrees grade. The robot was towed to the top of the hill while walking while keeping in mind astronaut safety.

The robot was given an initial push to roll down the hill. This was conducted to observe the dynamics of the robot structure given the terrain. With an enthusiastic ‘Bon Voyage’, the robot rolled down the hill with gusto! As the robot approached level land, similar to EVA-2, known weak pieces broke under the loads. The robot tipped over onto its side before coming to rest. Collecting the pieces was conducted in two trips. On the 2nd trip, the electronics payload was brought to retrace the steps to the launch point and resting point of the robot. This data will be used to determine the elevation and distance travelled. All pieces were collected.

The return to the Hab was completed with the Spirit rover. The robot was returned to the RAM. An initial damage analysis shows that it was not as destructive as it had appeared to be in the field. The repaired pieces from EVA-4 held up well.

EVA-9 built on the lessons learned previously as well as the pertinent safety training received yesterday. The EVA-9 resulted in new information being learned that would only be possible in this unique environment. Many thanks to the entire crew — both on the EVA, at HabCom, and behind the scenes!

Both EVA crewmembers carried a Meshtastic device to gather data for that project. Audrey managed the Garmin devices and sent points of interest as planned.

Issues Experienced During EVA-9
[Procedural] There was a wrong turn taken upon return, but quickly noticed (within 20 seconds), rerouted, and communicated back to Hab
[Technical] There was a longer than anticipated delay in the Garmin InReeach transmitting the Point of Interest
[Procedural] Some crew members struggle to press the PTT button reliably and timely
[Procedural] HabCom told crew to take Spirit when the final request had Curiosity and Perseverance (per Mission Support’s advice). This was compounded the later EVA which had Spirit in the request but that rover had already been used on this EVA so could not be taken.

When removing helmet to take a drink of water for safety, kneeling down is easiest.
In-situ scouting is needed for regions of interest to supplement the map and satellite view. MarsVR could greatly assist with this.
New information acquired for Atmosphinder robot experiment
New information acquired with electronics running environmental sensor data logging

In front of Hab (518100 E, 4250900 N)
Hill within Phobos Peak Vicinity (518200 E, 4249991 N)

Coordinates (use UTM WGS 84): See above

EVA Participants: 3: Audrey Derobertmasure (EVA Leader), Erin Kennedy (Crew Roboticist), Kris Davidson (Journalist) (Not In Sim – Not Wearing Suit)

Road(s) and routes per MDRS Map:

Drive from Hab, Turn right, Go South on Cow Dung Road
Park rover near: 518100 E, 4250050 N
Walk around to scout locations (~250 m)
Walk to chosen hill (~80 m)
Walk back to parked rover (~80 m)
Drive to Hab – Go North on Cow Dung Road, Turn Left
Mode of travel: Rover and Walking

Vehicles you will be using (If applicable): Rover (Spirit)

Crew 261 EVA Report 06052023

EVA # 10

Author: James Burk, Commander

Purpose of EVA: Drone Rescue + Reconnaissance of area leading up to Sommerville Overlook.

Start time: 3:00 PM

End time: 6:00 PM


Overview of EVA
The goal of this EVA was to retrieve the wayward Icarus drone and, afterward, to head up to a scenic place to fly it.  Commander Burk had visited Candor Chasma on the last EVA of Crew 197 in 2018 and was eager to return and to see it from different angles.  Successfully reaching Sommerville Overlook with one or both rovers would also demonstrate our crew’s ability to successfully reach comparable objectives.

Commander Burk and GreenHab Officer Renaud took out Opportunity and Curiosity (respectively) and successfully reached the same location that Commander Burk and XO Decadi had parked the previous day, just southeast of Compass Rock.  They then proceeded on foot due South, following Watney road for 0.7 km until they reached the location of the Icarus drone.  GreenHab Officer Renaud sighted it first, and thus had the honor of retrieving it.  It was in excellent condition, as expected.  The EVA team then hiked 0.7km back to the rovers.

Afterwards, the 2-rover caravan searched a bit for the exact stretch of Galileo Road that winds east-northwest from that point, and had some difficulty.  They first backtracked north, then eventually located the road by surveying the area on foot for a few minutes.  They then proceeded along Galileo Road for around 1/2 a kilometer when Commander Burk’s rover got slightly stuck in the sandy path of that stretch of Galileo Road.  After exiting the rover and touring the area (with the expectation that they would be turning around at that point due to a hazardous road, GreenHab Officer Renaud suggested using 4-wheel drive along with digging out the front and back driver’s side wheels.  Once those two things were done, the rover was almost instantly unstuck and the team continued their trek along Galileo Road, and reached the Sommerville Overlook.

After taking some photos, sending some Garmin waypoints, and also sending a Whatsapp message to the rest of the crew, the team then returned back to base, only stopping a few times for Comm checks and to take photo/video of the scenery.

The EVA went very smoothly overall, with excellent communication between the two EVA crewmembers.  They also created a hand signal system to communicate when to switch between 4-wheel and 2-wheel drive during the traverse, which was extremely effective.

The EVA team returned late (see Issue below) but otherwise was safe and in full communication with each other throughout the EVA.  HabCom did not always have radio communication, especially when the EVA team was far away on Galileo Road towards Sommerville, but always knew the location of the EVA team within a 5-10 minute delay and so were never concerned about their safety.

Back at the Hab, Mission Support contacted HabCom after the planned EVA window had past and expressed concern that HabCom was not in active radio communication at that point.  Once Commander Burk had returned the Hab, he radioed Mission Support and explained that they had underestimated the overall time window for a successful traverse to Sommerville.  There wasn’t much that could be done about the radio communication, but again, HabCom had been receiving regular and frequent updates via the Garmin waypoints and other non-radio communications received (Whatsapp).

[Procedural] EVA window was mis-estimated.  It should have been a 2.5 or 3 hour EVA just to be sure, since it contained a lot of travelling including the hike down the Icarus drone.
[Technical] Channel 1 on the radios was very unreliable overall, so the EVA Team mostly stuck to channel 2 when speaking to each other.  They still frequently switched to channel 1 and gave verbal reports which were never heard by HabCom until they were almost back at the Hab, and in one case when the Hab was in visual sight (albiet far away) during the return traverse on Galileo Road.

Hand signals for switching between 2-wheel and 4-wheel drive are very useful and effective in a 2-rover convoy when roads require it.
We need to write down the beginning and end of EVA times because we keep having to forensically analyze them after the fact instead of just logging it with the other EVA data (rover hours/SOC, etc.)
Having 2 rovers for long EVAs is a good idea for Safety.
We need more repeaters across the map!

Destination: First to Downed Icarus Drone, then onto the road leading to Sommerville Overlook, depending on Rovers’ range.

Coordinates (use UTM WSG 84):
Downed Icarus Drone: 519900 E, 4251800 N
Sommerville Overlook: 522000 E, 4253000 N

EVA Participants: 2: James Burk (Commander) (EVA Leader), Cecile Renaud (GreenHab Officer)

Road(s) and routes per MDRS Map: Drive to Cow Dung Road, then North to Galileo Road, then East/SouthEast to Compass Rock, then the location of the downed Icarus drone.  After retrieving the drone, go Northeast on Galileo Road and drive as far as rovers’ allow, up to Sommerville Overlook.  Walk on foot to explore area.

Mode of travel: Rovers (Curiosity and Opportunity).

EVA Report – May 5th

Crew 261 EVA Report 05-05-2023

EVA # 7

Author: James Burk, Commander (with inputs from XO Aline Decadi)

Purpose of EVA:
Test of drones at Compass Rock.
Build experience for longer-range EVAs.
HabCom training of crewmembers to support longer-range EVAs.
Gathering of EVA traverse data using Meshtastic devices

Start time: 8:37 AM

End time: 10:35 AM


Overview of EVA
In preparation for the rest of the mission, this EVA was designed by the crew to build experience and confidence with long-range EVAs, including demonstration of a long rover traverse with frequent SOC checks to monitor battery capacity. We also wanted to practice flying drones with EVA suits on, using Compass Rock as a recognizable landmark that is easy to see on a drone viewfinder. We also planned to give other crewmembers back in the Hab time working as HabCom and learning how to support longer EVAs.

During this EVA both crewmembers carried two Meshtastic devices each (one T-Beam and one T-Echo) to gather data from the field to test the technology overall including its range from the Hab.

Commander Burk and XO Decadi drove with Curiosity rover to Compass Rock with intermediate waypoints: drive to Cow Dung Road, then North to Galileo Road, then East/Southeast to Compass Rock. Walk on foot to explore area.

It took us some time to find the right turn on Galileo Road (see Issues), and once we did and drove to Compass Rock, we disembarked and prepared our drones for flight.

The Atmosphinder electronics payload was included on EVA-7. The air quality monitor was added, which reports PM 2.5, PM 10, and NH3 every 10 seconds. This sensor data, along with the pressure, humidity, temperature, wind (anemometer), GPS, and battery, was logged at 1 Hz to the microcontroller’s microSD card. The data will be analyzed at a later date. Progress on Atmosphinder including adapting and installing both sail assemblies, affixing an improved towing method, and coding the mechanised sail trim motors.

The plan was for both Commander Burk and XO Decadi to practice individually flying drones in their EVA suits with their associated difficulties (gloves, low visibility due to helmet, etc.) Upon arriving at the site, XO Decadi could not get her drone to power up. Commander Burk was able to deploy his drone (an off-the-shelf DJI Mavic Air 2) successfully and flew it for approx. 15-20 mins, making multiple passes over Compass Rock, and the EVA team and our rover.

Just as he was preparing to land the drone, he lost sight of it and attempted to use the “Return Home” feature, which he had tested successfully that morning back in the vicinity of the Musk Observatory (within the simulation protocols).

According to Commander Burk, the Return Home feature seemed off because he could not see the drone, even though the controls stated it was at distance 0 from home and landing. He aborted the Return Home feature, fearing that the “Home” waypoint was still set to the Musk Observatory (which was out of range of the drone’s battery), and attempted to manually pilot the drone back to him. Due to the limited visibility of his EVA gear, he was not able to ascertain position of the drone from only the viewfinder, and attempted to fly the drone using the mountains and Compass Rock as guide points. Long story short, the drone ran out of battery and he was forced to land it before he was able to sight its location visually. Commander Burk was under the impression that, because he had lost sight of the drone while it was north of Compass Rock, that it landed in that area.

After this happened, Commander Burk and XO Decadi packed everything up in the rover and began returning to the Hab on Galileo road, stopping briefly to look for the drone north of Compass Rock. Unable to find the drone, they returned to the Hab via Galileo Road and Cow Dung Road, briefly stopping at Marble Ritual to pick up an interesting animal bone that the previous day’s EVA had sighted.

The EVA team returned to the Hab safely, without the drone. During the debriefing session, the Crew Journalist requested that Commander Burk choose a name for the drone based on Greek mythology. He chose the name “Icarus”, after the story of the young boy who was given wings, and then flew too close to the Sun.

Later on in the day, Crew Engineer Julian Villa-Massone was able to both pinpoint the GPS coordinates of the downed drone using Commander Burk’s DJI controller and smartphone app. Villa-Massone then flew his own drone from the Musk Observatory and imaged the Icarus Drone at its landing spot, to enable future EVA planning to rescue it.

Issues Experienced During EVA 7
[Procedural] The Garmin units we took were not properly configured to show the coordinate system used on the official EVA map.
[Technical] XO Decadi’s drone batteries did not work despite being plugged in all night. After the EVA, she determined that the issue was due to her EU travel adapter (with the drone charger) not being fully seated in her stateroom’s wall outlet.
[Technical] The turn onto Galileo Road from Cow Dung Road is not a T-Intersection as shown on the map. It’s more like a half-oval off the road (almost like a turnaround for trucks, and the intersection to Galileo as off that half-oval. This turn off was hard to spot driving north.
[Technical] XO Decadi determined that the coordinate grid on the version of the official EVA map does not appear to be 100% precise.
[Procedural] Commander Burk flew a drone despite the high wind gusts, which caused the Icarus drone to be blown off course and visibility lost.
[Procedural] Commander Burk was not familiar with how to find & use DJI Fly app’s feature to “Find My Drone” which could have been used on-site to locate it.

As a lesson learnt from this experiment, we concluded that the map shall not be used as a primary tool while navigating in exploration areas, but rather as an indicator. The good solution is to focus on a detailed preparation upfront, using satellite imaging to visualize the shape of the road and understand the terrain landforms, combined with the use of waypoint-enabled navigation devices on the field.
Another outcome from this EVA was that the SOC of the Curiosity rover decreased in a non-predictive way: in ten minutes, it decreased very quickly from 100% to 85%, then it stayed at 66% for a very long time. As a lesson-learnt, it could be useful to test the rover under 60% in the vicinity of the MDRS station (for safety purposes) to predict the SOC. This could help to learn/ predict if the SOC goes very fast from 60% to 40% or even 20% or if it stays stable for a certain time around 50%-60%; and what are the parameters that can influence the SOC while in a long-range EVA. As the battery consumption may be different for each rover, we would recommend performing this test on the 4 rovers and provide the results to the mission support.
Mission Support provided a higher-resolution EVA map that we will begin using to plan.
Drone flights should not be done when there is danger of high wind gusts.
Drone flights should reference wind predictions at different altitudes using resources like Windy.com so that appropriate & safe altitudes are used for flights.

Destination: Compass Rock.

Coordinates (use UTM WGS 84): 520000 E, 4252000 N

James Burk (Commander) (EVA Leader), Aline Decate (XO).

Road(s) and routes per MDRS Map: Drive to Cow Dung Road, then North to Galileo Road, then East/SouthEast to Compass Rock. Walk on foot to explore area.

Mode of travel: Rover

Vehicles you will be using (If applicable): Rover (Curiosity)

Crew 261 EVA Report 05052023

EVA # 8

Author: James Burk, Commander (with inputs from XO Aline Decadi)

Purpose of EVA: Exploration of Area for Geologic Purposes

Start time: 11:25 PM

End time: 1:00 PM


EVA-8 conducted exploration of Area for Geologic Purposes. The purpose was also to train for communication between the crew and HabCom.  The crew walked to the MDRS sign, then headed due Southeast. The crew found various traces of ancient civilizations on the field.

The crew in the field had a positive experience overall, but suffered from some communication issues between themselves and between the HabCom team (led by GreenHab Officer Cecile Renaud with support from Commander James Burk).  After the EVA, the crew hosted another long debriefing session, as was done yesterday.  Our crew feels these debriefing sessions are very important to provide an open forum for discussion and also to help assist all crewmembers with building their analog astronaut experience, skills, and understanding of safe procedures.

Issues Experienced During EVA 8
1. [Procedural] Many Comms-related human factors process issues, including lack of use of different channels, lack of headset troubleshooting, not pausing after hitting the button on the radio before talking, and cross-talk between EVA crewmembers.  All of these issues compounded and caused HabCom to have diminished understanding of the situation, including the perceived health status of crew members.
2. [Technical] Crew Engineer Julian Villa-Massone’s radio gear was acting temperamental and it was hard for him to hear HabCom.  On the other end, HabCom’s receiving of Villa-Massone included heavy breathing (due to microphone too close to mouth) which caused HabCom to believe that Villa-Massone was struggling with breath often.
2. [Procedural] HSO was on the EVA and did her job by observing and checking in on EVA crewmembers, who were all nominal throughout the EVA, but because of the above Comms issues, the information on crew health was asked for by HabCom and not received.  As a result, HabCom continued to assume that Villa-Massone was having difficulty and responded accordingly with Concern.

We spent a lot of time talking about correct Comms procedures, including use and troubleshooting of radios, using brief and factual communication, and ensuring that HabCom requests are better attended to by the EVA Lead and HSO.
We should provide more buffer time between EVAs to allow for debriefing sessions, which the crew is finding very valuable.
Crew members should take into account who is doing which role and how they communicate & like to receive communication.  This is especially important because we have crewmembers from different cultures where English is not their primary language.
XO Decadi organized and held a training session for emergency procedures in the field, based on the past two days’ EVA experiences and her personal experiences on AMIDEE-18 and with the European Space Agency’s Ariane projects, with the purpose to expose what kind of hazards may happen on the field and how to detect and make decisions on the most appropriate “way for action”. Then we practiced how to remove the helmet/ backpack in different degraded situations as quick as possible.
Addition of Safety Check to Pre-EVA checklist to ensure crewmembers have acclimation with their gear to carry out the emergency contingency procedures we trained on today.
We agreed to plan out EVAs earlier in the day so that the entire crew can be involved.

Destination: Due Southeast of Hab, past MDRS sign.

Coordinates (use UTM WGS 84): 518400 E, 4250600 N

Participants: Julien Villa-Massone (EVA Leader), Kris Davidson (Crew Journalist), Audrey Derobertmasure (HSO).

Road(s) and routes per MDRS Map: Walk to MDRS sign, then head due Southeast.

Mode of travel: Walking

EVA Report – May 4th

Crew 261 EVA Report 04-05-2023

EVA # 5

Author: James Burk, Commander

Purpose of EVA: Initial Meshtastic Testing + Safety Drill

Start time: 9:00 AM

End time: 10:33 AM


Overview of EVA
Today’s EVA was designed to allow four of our crew to get additional experience with driving rovers and exploring areas within 1km of the Hab, while also testing out our Meshtastic devices for the first time on this mission. Each of the four EVA team members carried a Meshtastic device on their person, and also carried a fifth device in the bed of Perseverance.

The primary objective of the EVA was completed and the devices captured data, which you can see visualized below. The crew did not make it to their planned destination of Gateway to Candor, although that was not a critical part of the EVA. The goal was to give the crewmembers more experience with Rover, Comms, and EVA procedures overall.

Safety Drill
During the last part of the EVA, the crew experienced an anomaly. While exploring an area approximately west of Pooh’s Corner, Executive Officer Aline Decadi started to smell what she described as a “burning plastic smell”. This was confirmed by GreenHab Officer Cecile Renaud who also smelled what she described as a “sulfur smell”. Fearing that XO Decadi’s backpack components were burning, the EVA team quickly worked to take off her helmet and suit. By the time they had done that, XO Decadi started to feel ill, and felt like she was going to faint. She was assisted back to the rovers by the three other crewmembers: GreenHab Officer Renaud, HSO Audrey Derobertmasure, and Crew Journalist Kris Davidson.

The crew has been carrying a Garmin inReach mini 2 on all EVAs, which has a custom “MDRS Assistance Required” feature, that is meant to alert the Hab, Mission Support or local county EMS in the case of an emergency or when assistance is needed. In this case, GreenHab Officer Renaud triggered the feature immediately and it was seen by HabCom within a couple minutes on our custom EVA monitor.

The crew experienced issues with comms throughout the EVA, which compounded the situation. At one point, one of the two rovers drove off while the other had not yet started, which was due to Comms issues.

The EVA team then proceeded back to the Hab safely.

The team performed a debriefing session and many issues were raised and discussed. A list of them is below. We also created a set of “Outcomes”, or recommendations, for both our crew’s future operations and the program in general.

Overall, the crew felt this was a great learning experience. The team debriefing session, while sometimes quite heated, overall was a very productive and constructive discussion.

Issues Experienced During EVA 5

  1. [Technical] XO Decadi’s EVA gear seemed to create a smell that made her sick, briefly.
  2. [Medical] XO Decadi experienced light-headedness due to issue #1. At one point, she was leaning hard on the other crewmember and felt like she was going to faint.
  3. [Procedural] When individual crewmembers experienced Comms issues, not all crewmembers worked together to resolve them.
  4. [Procedural] Rovers should stay together at all times, and certainly within sight of each other. One rover should never be out of sight of the other.
  5. [Procedural] Crew members should be careful not to talk at the same time, because it interferes with Comms and makes it so nobody is heard. This happened often on this EVA.
  6. [Procedural] Crew members should switch to Channel 2 when having comms issues between each other. One crewmember stayed on Channel 1 during the entire EVA, despite the Comms issues.
  7. [Procedural] Removing XO Decadi’s helmet in an emergency situation was done in a suboptimal way.
  8. [Technical] Our Garmin device did not trigger an email to Mission Support, as was designed. We are investigating this problem.
  9. [Procedural] It is safer to go to the furthest point of the EVA and then work your way back closer to the Hab. Instead, the EVA team first stopped near Marble Ritual and then north of Pooh’s Corner, with the intent to eventually get to Gateway to Candor. Instead they should have driven all the way to Gateway and worked their way back in the direction of the Hab.


  • Air flow of a backpack can be left on while the helmet is removed. In today’s case it was rightly switched off by one crew member while two others were removing the helmet, because of the nature of the perceived issue (burning component in backpack). In other emergency cases, keeping air flow on would be desirable
  • We need more hand signals, especially to communicate comms outages or when driving a rover with a sick crewmember in passenger seat (ie, “Are you ok?”)
  • Crewmembers should always carry water on their person, and there should be at least one emergency water bottle carried by the EVA crew in the rover. By utilizing a carabiner clip with a water bottle that has a loop at the top, a crewmember can easily stow it on their person so that both hands are free.
  • EVA members should have a mandatory water break every 20-30 mins, to keep ahead of any thirstiness or dehydration. We have noticed this can creep up on you quickly, and we keep powering through minor thirstiness only to suffer severe thirst later in the EVAs. Often, peer pressure or psychology prevents people from being the first to pause the EVA for reasons like this.
  • When two rovers are driving, the person driving the rover should communicate with the other rover driver, and the other two (passenger) crew members should remain quiet.
  • There should be a mandatory comm check at the beginning of every traverse. In today’s case, one rover lead was trying to communicate with the other, but they were not heard.
  • The EVA suits should support rapid removal of helmet and backpack battery in the case of an emergency.
  • EVA teams should carry sugar packets to help ill crew members. In today’s case that would have helped.
  • For our crew’s HSO, the threshold for breaking sim would have been an actual fainting, not an “almost” fainting. In today’s case, the incident did not meet the threshold, although we broke the sim anyway due to the backpack smell issue.
  • We should perform drills to practice self-removal of the helmet and backpack in an emergency.

Destination: Gateway to Candor.

Coordinates (use UTM WGS 84): 519000 E, 4251700 N

Participants: Aline Decadi (XO) (EVA Leader), Audrey Derobertmasure (HSO), Cecile Renaud (GreenHab Officer), Kris Davidson (Crew Journalist)

Road(s) and routes per MDRS Map: Drive to Cow Dung Road, then drive north to Gateway to Candor. Walk on foot to explore area.

Mode of travel: Rovers (Perseverance and Spirit)

Crew 261 EVA Report 04052023

EVA # 6

Author: James Burk, Commander

Purpose of EVA: Testing of Atmosphinder prototype with wind sails and improvements since EVA #4

Start time: 12:00 PM

End time: 2:00 PM

This EVA was conducted during extremely strong (~30-52 kph) winds outside the Hab, which were very desirable for the type of testing that we aimed to perform.

EVA-6 conducted Atmosphinder testing using the half-sized robot (~1 m diameter) in front of the Hab. The objectives of the test focused on structural aspects of the robot and de-risking operational elements. The EVA crew members worked together to increase the operational understanding of extracting the full-scale body of Atmosphinder, a prototype sail, and the science payload, that was used for previous EVAs, which collects various data.  Like EVA-4, the lessons learned from this exercise will de-risk these elements on future EVAs when transporting the robot to regions of interest.

There were three separate rounds of tests conducted including testing the sail for the first time, which was done by Commander James Burk holding the sail while pulling it apart with his two arms, while Crew Roboticist Erin “RobotZwrrl” Kennedy manipulated the robot’s servos and positioned the sail in various configurations to see the effects that the strong wind gusts would have on the materials and engineering design.

Qualitative testing observed, again as with EVA-4, that the robot can roll down a small incline unassisted, and this was performed on a larger slope than EVA-4 and for multiple runs.  It was expected that this test would be destructive, but the robot’s structure held together well.

The science payload was also positioned in several locations and data on the wind speed was gathered.

All tests were performed successfully and valuable new information was learned.  The crew journalist and EVA team lead also took photos and recorded video footage for public outreach and internal review purposes.

Destination: Flat ground just outside the hab.

Coordinates (use UTM WGS 84): 518100 E, 4249900 N

Participants: James Burk (Commander) (EVA Leader), Erin Kennedy (Crew Roboticist).

Road(s) and routes per MDRS Map: Walking outside between the Hab and RAM.

Mode of travel:  Walking.   No Rover driving performed; Use of Rover Bed only for this EVA.

EVA Report – May 3rd

Crew 261 EVA Report 03-05-2023

EVA # 3

Author: James Burk, Commander

Purpose of EVA: Collection of soil for GreenHab experiments and operational testing of EVALink and VR-Comms procedures using Garmin devices.

Start time: 9:00 AM

End time: 10:15 AM

Narrative: EVA-3 conducted a collection of soil for GreenHab experiments and operational testing of EVALink and VR-Comms procedures using Garmin devices. The soil collection is meant to support our Biostimulation experiments. Commander James Burk and GreenHab Officer Cecile Renaud took the Opportunity rover on a traverse south to the north side of Kissing Camel Ridge (East), which is also just at the entrance of Robert’s Rock Garden. They parked the rover and walked east approximately 100 meters, stopping at three distinct sampling locations to collect different types of soil that will be used for the Biostimulation experiments. They also took Garmin waypoints and photos of the collection sites.

At the end of the EVA, James found a small rock that appears volcanic in origin. Cecile quickly named it “The Mountain”, and they brought it back to the Hab as a souvenir. Coincidentally, the name is very similar to James’ high school nickname. His high school sports teammate Karl Foston dubbed him “Mt. Burk” due to his height and his expertise with blocking basketball shots.

Destination: North side of Kissing Camel Ridge, just off Cow Dung Road.

Coordinates (use UTM WGS 84): 518300 E, 4249500 N

Participants: James Burk (Commander) (EVA Leader), Cecile Renaud (GreenHab Officer).

Road(s) and routes per MDRS Map: Drive towards Cow Dung Road, take it south to the entry to Robert’s Rock Garden, and walk east to the collection site.

Mode of travel: Rover (Opportunity)

Crew 261 EVA Report 03052023

EVA # 4

Author: James Burk, Commander (with inputs from Aline Decadi, XO)

Purpose of EVA: Initial testing of Atmosphinder prototype

Start time: 11:00 AM

End time: 12:00 PM

Narrative: EVA-4 conducted Atmosphinder testing using the half-sized robot (~1 m diameter) in front of the Hab. The objectives of the test focused on structural aspects of the robot and de-risking operational elements. The EVA crew members worked together to increase the operational understanding of extracting the robot out of the RAM, loading the robot into the rover (ATV), securing the robot to the rover (ATV), and driving slowly with sudden decelerations. The lessons learned from this exercise will de-risk these elements on future EVAs when transporting the robot to regions of interest. Quantitative testing of the robot was completed using force meters to measure the longitudinal and latitudinal forces required to lift the robot. Qualitative testing observed that the robot can roll down a small incline unassisted. Structural elements on the robot that failed were known previously and can be repaired. The electronics payload was tested separately, with the new addition of the wind sensor compared to EVA-2. The EVA-4 worked smoothly, and valuable new information was learned. The success of this EVA-4 was in large part thanks to the EVA crew lead and the crew facilitating behind the scenes.

Destination: Flat ground just outside the hab.  Originally the EVA was planned to go farther Northwest from Hab but once the team was out, they assessed that terrain from afar and felt that the terrain immediately in front of the Hab was lower risk for the experiment.



Copyright © The Mars Society. All rights reserved. | Main Site