Journalist Report- February 07th

Sol 7: Martian food – What do we eat in a day?

Author : Pierre Fabre

Hi everyone! Today we are going to talk about Martian food! I know you readers are curious about what we eat on Mars, so we are going to teach you how to cook some delicious dishes with Martian ingredients! But first let’s talk about what happened during this Sol 7, beginning of our second week on Mars!

First, after two days of rest, we were back at the daily workout again this morning. I think the decision of our HSO took to rest during the weekend was a really good one. Everyone on the crew was in better shape this morning and nobody suffered from the intensity of the workout. When we will come back to Earth, the gravity will be around three times higher so we have to work hard not to lose our strength !

EVAs also made their come back this morning! I personally missed them this weekend as I didn’t participate in the EVA at Candor Chasma Saturday. Today, we went to the Hab Ridge, a ridge on the West side of the Hab. It offers a really cool point of view of the Hab and I was looking for the occasion to go there since the beginning of the mission. We took a path to the left just before reaching North Ridge arriving from the South and climbed our way to the Hab Ridge. The North Hab View was beautiful and we took some really cool drone videos and pictures. Then we climbed down and came home through another path which was easy to find from the top but nearly impossible to imagine from the bottom of the ridge. It was the perfect EVA to begin that new week and I can’t wait for the next ones.

Today was a good day for our astronomer Maxime. For technical reasons, he hasn’t been able to work on his research project of finding supernovae yet (we will definitely talk in more details about that awesome project during his interview which is coming soon), but he can now observe the Sun and monitor its activity each day. Today, he took a beautiful shot of the Sun with a nice flair at the top of the picture. It can be a sign of a potential danger for us in terms of radiations, but according to him there is, for this time, nothing to fear. I really hope that the technical problems will be solved before the mission ends and that we will be able to show you some nice deep sky shots. Stay tuned if you want to have a chance to see Maxime’s art pieces!

In yesterday’s report, I mentioned that we ate a pizza.

But, do you know how to cook pizza on Mars?

Today, just in case you go on Mars some day and you’re dying for a pizza, we are going to teach you how to cook a Martian pizza!

Ok first, what is the difference between food on Mars and food on Earth?

If you open a cabinet in a Martian kitchen, you will find tons of cans of different colours all aligned on each shelf. Those cans contain dried, or dehydrated, food. This means you have to rehydrate the food before it seems like something you would call food on Earth. We have beef, chicken, beans, corn, peppers, tomatoes, potatoes. Everything you would expect to see in a fridge on Earth. We also have some funny things like orange juice powder or butter powder (I’m not yet used to the smell of the butter powder to be honest, but when it is baked you can’t tell the difference).

So, cooking on Mars is kind of similar to cooking on Earth except every recipe starts with add x cups of water for y cups of dried ingredients.

For those, like me, who are not familiar with the imperial system, here is a reminder: 1 cup is 16 tablespoons or 48 teaspoons. Easy, isn’t it? For those who are more familiar with the metric system, 1 cup is equal to 236 mL.

At first you’re stuck with very basic recipes like rice with rehydrated vegetables and it is not very funny. But then you begin to be creative and you cook some delicious dishes just like the pizza I’ve been teasing you with. Now it is time to release the very famous and secret recipe of the Martian pizza by Crew 240.

First, we made the dough from scratch. This part of the recipe comes from Julie’s friend Lison and it is a very good recipe for dough! We started by adding 600g of flour to a bowl, together with 12g of sugar, 12g of salt, 30g of yeast, 32.5cl of water and 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Clement kneaded the dough for a little while before putting it away to rise for about an hour.

Meanwhile, Marion went to the Greenhab to harvest some basil for the pizza, the only real fresh ingredient of this pizza!

Once the dough had time to rise, we set the oven to preheat at 202ºC, we split the dough in two and rolled it out on round trays.

A cup of tomato powder was added to hot water to hydrate it and was then spread on the pizza dough. We then took a cup of dehydrated peppers, a cup of dehydrated onions and a cup of dehydrated beef and added two cups of hot water on top to hydrate all the ingredients. We added the toppings to the pizza.

Finally comes the cheese, it is hard to rehydrate it because it instantly melts with hot water. So we took two cups of dehydrated mozzarella cheese and added hot water to hydrate it, made some small balls and put them on the pizza.

We put both pizza in the oven and waited for about 15 minutes, took them out, added basil and enjoyed them! It was the perfect meal to end this first week of hard work on Mars. We are already waiting for the next pizza, maybe next Sunday!

That’s it for today’s report, I hope you enjoyed it! I also hope you will have the opportunity to taste this delicious Martian pizza one day! See you tomorrow for an interview of a new crew member!

Journalist Report – February 6th

Sol 6: Focus on: Human Factors – Preparing for future crewed mission to Mars
Author : Pierre Fabre

Hi everyone! Today is the second episode of “Focus on”, our format in which we focus on our scientific experiments! In this episode, we are going to focus on some experiments managed by Marion and François, related to the field of Human Factors! I can’t wait to tell you more about those cool experiments, but first, as always, I will talk to you a bit about our Sol 6 on Mars!

Today was definitely not the most exciting day of the mission, but I can still manage to find something to tell you!

First thing, it was Sunday! Sunday is supposed to be a real rest day during the mission, but as we are on Mars, there are still things to do!

This morning Clément and Julie had to perform a short EVA to change the battery of the LOAC, our outdoor experiment I mentioned in a previous report. In fact, we have to change the battery every day when we go on EVA, so Sunday is not an exception. We can’t afford to lose precious data. To give our EVA team strength and motivation, we made pancakes with maple syrup, which is without a doubt the favourite breakfast of the crew!

This afternoon, the tasks were split within the crew. One part of the crew was in charge of cleaning the Hab. It is important to keep the Hab clean as we spend a lot of time in it.

In the meantime, the other part of the crew was performing a human factor experiment created by the University of Lorraine (but Francois will tell you more about that in the « Focus on » part of the report).

I almost forgot to keep you updated about the 3D printing of the custom funnel! They did it! Our amazing team managed to make the 3D printer work and after a stressful afternoon of waiting for the final result, this is it! We are really happy, mostly Julie who will be able to recycle water more efficiently. Our engineers can’t wait to design and print new pieces!

As you can see a Sunday on Mars is not exactly the same as on Earth, we still have to do a bit of work! But it is very pleasant to stay later in bed, skip the workout and work less than during the week!

Moreover, tonight we eat pizza! This will be the first time and I can’t wait to taste it! We will also try to finish our reports earlier tonight to watch a movie all together on the couch, like a real Martian family! We still have to decide which movie and I hope there will be no fight (I personally hope for an extended version of Lord Of The Rings but I doubt that everybody will be down for it).

Now it is time for the part everyone has been waiting for (at least we are going to pretend for the storytelling as I can’t have your live feedbacks). This is what we talked about with Marion and François:

“- Hi guys how are you today?

– We are doing well, got to sleep in today since it is Sunday and have some pancakes for breakfast. So let’s say our day started well!

– Ok, so today we are here to talk about Human Factors experiments. Marion, can you explain why Human Factors are particularly relevant in the MDRS context?

– Human factors experiments are important for future crewed missions to Mars as we need to be able to understand how humans will react to being on another planet, with a particular group of individuals in a confined space for an extended period of time. Being at MDRS is as close as we can get to being on Mars and particularly when it comes to confinement and isolation, it is quite representative. By performing these experiments on crews at MDRS, we can study, analyse the results and draw conclusions that can be applicable to future missions to Mars. If we can predict the adverse effects of being on Mars then we can better prevent them and support the astronauts on their journey.

– François, can you explain what is the aim of the experiment created by the University of Lorraine?

– This experiment was created with researchers from the University of Lorraine and studies the psychological and physiological evolution of crews during their mission. We answer questionnaires that study the evolution of our emotions, the group dynamics and our relationship with our workload. We also perform tests that study our focus, our memory and our attention. For example, one test has shapes of different sizes and colour show up quickly on the screen before our eyes. We have to press a button when the same shape appears twice consecutively. This may seem very simple but this task lasts 15 minutes. It is without a doubt the most rigorous and tiring task. Another test consists in observing a sequence of numbers. When the current number on the screen is the same as the second to last, we have to press the button. This requires a lot of focus as well as good memory. Finally, we cut some hair samples before and after the mission. Indeed, the cortisol present in human hair is telling of the level of stress the person is under. This experiment allows to understand better how humans react to confinement and stress. This will be helpful for future crewed missions or even just prolonged confinement.

– Ok so cool! I can assure whoever is reading this that the “shape test” is very tiring! And what about your experiment Marion? What is Teleop?

– TELEOP is a tele-operated rover experiment created by the human factors department of ISAE-SUPAERO. It is currently also in use in the SIRIUS-21 mission in Russia. The experiment puts its subject behind the joystick of a rover on the Moon. The subject has several tasks to complete in a certain amount of time. These include tasks such as picking up samples from the lunar surface, driving it to the lunar lander and docking with the latter to give the sample for analysis. The subject is not just under time pressure but also needs to make sure that the rover still has enough battery and does not fall or flip as the task will fail. Each task is performed in three different positions, standing up, sitting down and laying on one’s stomach. The goal of this experiment is to study the effect of body position on performance as well as the effect of fatigue on the subject. It is expected that the subject would probably worsen its performance throughout the mission due to fatigue but there could also be an increase in performance as the subject learns to use the rover over time. Only the results will be able to tell us how our ability to tele-operate rovers evolves during an analog mission.

– I truly love this experiment, it is so cool! Thank you for your time, it was really cool to hear about those two really interesting experiments!”

This concluded this second episode of “Focus on”! I hope you enjoyed it and that you learned something! Stay tuned for the next episode of “Focus on” and see you in my next report!

Journalist Report – February 5th

Crew 240 Journalist Report 05Feb2022

Author: Pierre Fabre

Sol 5: Interview with: HSO – How to take care of a crew?

Hi everyone! Welcome back in this new report for the second episode of « Interview with ». In today’s episode, we are going to talk with Julie Levita, our HSO about her and her role in the crew.

But first, let me talk to you a bit about our Sol 5 on Mars.

First, I think it is worth to notify that this morning we didn’t workout to, I quote our HSO: « let our bodies rest until the beginning of a new week of workouts ».

I think it was a good call and everyone truly appreciated to sleep a little later. In fact, this week was quite exhausting for everyone and we were all quite tired lately (at least I was).

Moreover, it was important to rest to be ready for today’s EVA, which was long and physically demanding. Maxime, François, Marion and Clément went for an exploration of Candor Chasma, a big canyon in the surroundings of the station. On Earth, someone would probably call that EVA a hike, a hard one maybe. But on Mars, with the spacesuit and all the constraints we have already talked about in previous reports, it was a real challenge. They have spent 3 hours and a half outside, exploring the maze inside the canyon. When they came back, they were exhausted and everyone went for a nap after lunch. Despite all of that, I would have wanted to go with them so bad. I’m sure you will understand if you take a look at the pictures they took there, the canyon looks so good! But there has to be someone at the Hab just in case something happens to them. I really hope I will have the opportunity to see this canyon with my own eyes next time.

This afternoon despite how tired they were, Francois and Maxime spent all their time in the RAM trying to make the 3D printer work. Remember last time I told you that we needed this 3D printer working to print a custom funnel to allow Julie to recycle water. While I was interviewing Julie at the lower deck of the Hab, they worked very hard and at the end their perseverance paid off. They succeeded. They managed to print their first test piece. Tomorrow, they will be able to print the piece for Julie, which will make her task of recycling water way easier.

In fact, Julie has no time to lose, she is very busy creating workouts and activities for the crew as a good HSO. Talking about that, let’s see what we talked about this afternoon:

“-Hi Julie! How are you today?

-Super good, thank you! I’m glad to do this interview with you!

-Me too! Can you introduce yourself briefly for those who don’t know you yet?

-Ok let’s do this. My name is Julie Levita, I’m an engineering student at ISAE-SUPAERO. During my gap year I have performed two internships in the Space Surveillance Awarness domain. I’ve been very fond of team sports for a long time and I’ve played handball at national level. Currently I’m the crew’s 240 HSO (Health and Safety Officer).

-Yes, regarding that, can you explain a bit what is the role of the HSO in a crew?

-For me the HSO role has three main components.

The first one deals with the physical health of the crew. I have to take care of injuries, symptoms and those kinds of things. At MDRS, the motto is “Safety first”. Most injuries occur because of lack of sleep, dehydration or low sugar. A good HSO has to make sure everyone takes care of themselves. Due to Covid I also have to monitor the crew members temperature and oxygen rate.

The second component is related to the mental health of the crew. We live in a station without contact with the outside world, with limited resources in water and food which can be hard for some people to deal with. It is important to implement good habits that make us feel better. Every day, I organize workouts, meditation sessions and team building games. A good HSO also has to listen to his crew mates and be there for them if they feel bad.

And last but not least, safety is the most important task for an HSO. Security is the priority at MDRS, even more important than the simulation. This task is shared with the crew’s engineer who makes sure very often that every alarm in the station is working properly, that we have enough water and enough energy. The procedures are here to avoid dangerous situations as much as possible. I, with the help of the commander, have to make sure that we follow them well. But sometimes unexpected situations occur and we have to decide whether or not break the simulation because the situation is no longer under control. Those are hard questions to answer and we have to agree as a crew on what to do before the situation even occurs.

-And why did you want to be the crew’s HSO?

-They are many reasons.

First, I have a first aid certification and this training taught me how to react quickly in case of an emergency.

At the time I was playing handball, I witnessed many injuries that are typical of what could occur during an EVA. With time, I have learned to evaluate the gravity of an injury and in some cases I learned how to cure it or make it hurt less.

I think the main reason is the human aspect of the job. I care for people and I like to listen to them and try to understand how they feel. Moreover, I feel close to every member of that crew so it is all the more important for me that everyone feels good.

-Ok last question. What is your favourite part of the job?

-As I told you before, my main job is to prepare the activities for the day. I love workouts, it is a good way of starting the day feeling energized. Moreover, it is important to do sport when you have to live in small spaces like in the station. I also like when we do relaxation all together at the upper deck. I definitely feel the positive impact on how I feel and my crew mates make the experience even cooler by taking it very seriously. But what I like the most are the games we play together at night. Those are really pleasant moments and I like to think that the crew is becoming more of a team each time. And to be perfectly honest, the positive feedbacks from my crewmates make me very happy.

-Those feedbacks are well deserved Julie; you do an excellent job as HSO. I love all the activities you make us do and I want to thank you personally for the energy you put in making us feel better each day. “

This concluded this cool interview with Julie. I hope you enjoyed it! The interviews from the other crew members are coming soon so stay tuned!

Journalist Report – February 4th

Crew 240 Journalist Report 04Feb2022

Author: Pierre Fabre

Sol 4: Home tour – The Martian house

It’s been three days since we arrived in the station and I’ve been mentioning some cool names like Science Dome and RAM in my reports. I bet everyone is dying to know what those buildings look like, no? If not, we are going to pretend anyway. Today you are very lucky because we are going to take you with us for a Home Tour of the M.D.R.S. Please fasten your seatbelts and follow us in the corridors of our Martian house.

Ok first thing first. What does M.D.R.S. means? M.D.R.S. stands for Mars Desert Research Station. It is basically the facility in which we will live during those 3 weeks.

Now that the basics have been set, let’s start our tour by the heart of this station, the Hab. There are two decks in the Hab.

I’ve been talking to you about the lower deck because it’s there that we workout every morning with Julie, our HSO (Health and Safety Officer). It’s also there that we have our two airlocks. As a reminder, a airlock is a room that connects the inside (the Hab) with the outside (Mars). So you have to stay in there while the pressure in the room is passing from the inside pressure (same pressure as on Earth), to the outside pressure (the pressure on Mars is approximately a thousand times lower than on Earth). On this deck, we also suit up and do all the procedures before going on an EVA.

The upper deck is basically where we live and spend most of our time (sleep, cook, eat, relax, …). In this part of the Hab we have 6 individual rooms (they are pretty small but we sleep quite well in them). There is also a kitchen, which is perfect to cook some dried food based dishes (I still have in mind that I have to talk to you about the Martian food, don’t worry). On the table we eat, work, and play games together like a real family!

I think that’s enough for the Hab, you get the idea.

Ok now, I told you that there were two airlocks at the lower deck. The front airlock is for going on EVA. The rear airlock is the connection between the Hab and the corridors. The corridors allow you to go from the Hab to the other buildings without suiting up which is very convenient.

But let’s stop talking about corridors, and let’s talk about the second building of the station. I told you before that the Hab was the heart of the station, but in fact the real heart of the MDRS is the GreenHab. It is the unique source of non-dried food on Mars. In there, we grow vegetables, fruits, plants, … On Mars, growing plants have nothing to do with a hobby, it is vital. For example the next crew will have the pleasure to eat the soja that Julie planted today.

This would have been the second home of our Botanist Raphael if he could have come. As he is sadly not there, Marion takes good care of the plants.

If you liked the GreenHab, you’re going to love the Science Dome. First, because of its shape (it is a dome), and then because of the view you have from the window (at the end of the day it becomes truly beautiful). And last but not least, the room is equipped with a lot of scientific instruments to do chemistry and physics which is very useful for the experiments of Julie and Marion. Talking about which, Marion found today with her experiment Aquapad that the water we’ve been drinking is safe to drink!

Now it is time for me to explain what is hiding behind the mysterious name of RAM. The Repair and Assembly Module is the favourite building of Francois, our Engineer. It is there that we repair, construct, and assemble everything. Fun fact: the building is built out of an ancient fuel tank from a helicopter (how cool is that?).

The tour of our home is getting close to its end. But we have a last building to visit. The Musk Observatory hides the jewel of our Astronomer. In there is a telescope that allows Maxime to monitor the Sun. It is really important because in case of a high solar activity we must not go out of the station due to the radiations that could be dangerous even with a spacesuit. Talking about that, Maxime made his first observation of the Sun today and there was apparently nothing to worry about. That was great news!

This ends the incredible tour of our Martian house, I truly hope you enjoyed it! I also hope you enjoyed the aerial pictures of the station we took with the drone during today’s EVA!

Journalist Report – February 3th

Author : Pierre Fabre

Sol 3: Focus on: Water on Mars – How do we manage water on Mars?

Sometimes on Mars you have to improvise and those first days were a good example of that statement.

Two days ago an EVA which aimed to map the North Ridge area didn’t go as planned. We had to come back to the station because a member lost his visibility because his bandana fell on his eyes (in fact it was me). This can be seen as funny but when you are on an EVA on Mars it’s not funny at all because there is no way of pulling it back on your forehead due to the spacesuit. This issue made us lose precious time and then we didn’t have enough time to map the area properly with the drone.

Due to this first issue, we had to reschedule an EVA to this morning to make a second attempt of mapping North Ridge. We really needed that map for an experiment so we had no other choice. (I will talk to you about this cool experiment in another report don’t worry)

But yesterday when we were making the EVA request, we discovered that this morning was really cold and windy. Those conditions could have jeopardise the success of the drone mapping. With this new information in mind, we decided to reschedule the EVA to this afternoon when the weather was definitely better suited for flying drones. Finally, we managed to do the EVA this afternoon and we successfully mapped the North Ridge area with the drone. On Mars, you need to be flexible and adapt to every new situation you encounter.

3D printing is good when you need to adapt like in a Martian environment. On Mars, you would not have every tool you need and it is not an option to wait for somebody to send it to you. Sometimes you have to make your own tools and 3D print them is, I think, a good option. For example, Julie needed a custom-made funnel to filter used water and recycle it, so Maxime and Clément designed and printed it, which is very convenient. Well, they nearly printed it, but on instead they spent the afternoon trying to make the 3D printer work, but you have the idea!

Talking about recycling water, today we are going to talk with some members of the crew about the management of water in the station. This is the first episode of our new format of report called « Focus on » in which we are going to focus in each episode on one or a set of experiments. I hope you’ll enjoy it!

« Pierre: Ok so first why it is so important to manage water properly on Mars?

Clément: well, I think the answer is pretty obvious: Mars is a very dry desert almost all over, a lot more than here even! So if we are ever to go there, we need to bring with us the water we’ll drink, and conserve it as much as possible because there’s little to no way to resupply if we ever run out.

Pierre: What are the most water consuming activities in the station?

Clément: the biggest one is actually watering the plants in the GreenHab! Unlike us, there’s no restricting how much they use water. On the human side, it’s practically all hygiene related. Even if we try to limit showers and other things, keeping the station and ourselves clean enough still takes a lot of water.

Pierre: How to save water?

Julie: First, before you recycle water, you need to save it up, because the whole recycling process is very long and does not provide us with drinkable water. To save it up, we need to be more careful when we are using it : we wash our hands with sanitizer most of the time, we use wipes when we feel dirty, we do not put water on our toothbrush before brushing our teeth, we only take one or two showers a week, and we need to be strategic when washing dishes. Our priority is the water that we drink, and water for the GreenHab. For our safety, we can’t have any restriction on any of these two.

Used water we store it in barrels in an organised way. Then, how do we treat it ? Actually, soap molecules react with dirt, to trap it, creating soap-dirt complexes. To extract these complexes from water, we make them react with calicum ions which react very well with the soap molecules part that is not in direct contact with dirt. The final white product formed by this reaction contains the calcium, the used soap, and the dirt, and has moreover the great quality to be solid ! It makes it easy to extract from water : We just need to filter it whith some filter papers, an adapted funnel and a container. We obtain completely clean water, that we just need to warm in order to kill most of the leftover bacteria before using it again ! However this method works perfectly only with the most basic soap : Marseille’s soap, which can be separated very easily from water with calcium, as opposed to other kinds of soaps. As a consequence, it’s been 3 days that the crew is exclusively using Marseille’s soap in the station.

Pierre: How to monitor the quality of the water we drink?

Marion: Just as it is done on the ISS, we will need to test the quality of water on Mars to ensure that it is safe to drink. Thanks to the French Space Agency, CNES, and Biomerieux, we are able to use Aquapads. These small boxes host a medium which allow for bacterial growth. After injecting some water directly from our tap inside the Aquapad, we put it in an incubation tank for 48-72h. When we take it out, we can count the amount of bacterial colonies on the pad. The total can be compared to empirical values that allow us to draw conclusions as to whether the water is safe to drink. The Aquapad is very effective as its small (4cm in diameter) size makes it easy to bring on space missions. »

Journalist Report – February 2nd

Crew 240 Journalist Report 02Feb2022

Author: Pierre Fabre

Title: Interview with: Commander – Good to be back?

Life in the station is becoming more and more pleasant. Some routines are well implemented (like waking up at 6:45 and workout at 7:00). In the day everyone knows perfectly what they have to do and how to do it. We are also getting used to eating dried food and saving water. (More about saving water in tomorrow’s report). We are little by little feeling closer to a real Martian crew and it is quite satisfying, to be honest.

This morning at 9:00 a team of four courageous members of the crew performed an EVA to install two experiments. This EVA was hard both technically and physically. One group installed the LOAC (Light Optical Aerosol Counter) which is basically a scientific instrument that measures airborne particles (but we will talk about this cool experiment in more detail another day)

Meanwhile, the other group installed the weather station which will provide data to understand better the measures from another experiment. (From the LOAC for example).

First, let me tell you that installing something during an EVA has nothing to do with fixing stuff at home or assembling IKEA furniture. You have to imagine that you have a 10kg spacesuit on your back that is restricting your ability to move to the bare minimum, a helmet that distorts your sight, the constraint of communicating with your crewmates only by radio, and the most important part: the equivalent of ski gloves that makes any step of the assembly technically very hard. With all that equipment on you, every movement you make becomes both time and energy-consuming.

They did a really great job and now from the window of the upper deck, we can see the weather station proudly standing on the red Martian soil! This is all the more cool because this is the window where the mascot of Raphael is standing so he can see the experiment he was in charge of during the preparation of the mission.

During the EVA, the Commander had to wear a different, less comfortable spacesuit, because his usual one had malfunctioned the day before. This afternoon our crew Engineer Francois spent some time in the RAM (Repair and Assembly Module) and successfully fixed it! Thanks to his great job our Commander will be safe for his next EVA!

Talking about our Commander I’ve interviewed him this afternoon and this is what we talked about:

-Hi Clement! How are you today on this Sol 2?

-Hi Pierre! I feel great thanks! And you?

-Yeah I’m good!

First, Commander, can you introduce yourself in a few words?

-Yes sure! My name is Clément Plagne, I’m currently a student in my last year at ISAE-Supaero, a French aerospace engineering school. Last year I did an Internship at CNES, the French space agency, where I worked as an engineer on stratospheric balloons. My passion for human space flights led me to study biomedical engineering and medicine during one semester during my gap year. After this mission, I will do another internship at the European Space Agency to work on the engineering part of their analog missions.

-Wow this will be a great experience!

How does it feel to be back in the station after two years of living on Earth?

-It’s great to be back, really. The station hasn’t changed that much, but it still took me a bit of time to settle in. Now I’m good! I got my old room and most of my habits back, and it honestly feels a little like home.

-Why did you choose to come back for another mission on Mars?

-I think the reason is pretty obvious. When you end your mission here at MDRS you feel like it passed so fast and you have only one will and it is to come back! For the part of coming back as a commander, I think it comes from the fact that during my previous mission I was the Journalist.

For this role in particular you need to be aware of all the things that happen in the station. You need to know how the scientific experiments are going but you also need to know how your crewmates feel and if they have troubles. I think the role of the commander is the logical next step but in addition to that, you become more active and start focusing on problem-solving.

-What is the thing that you liked the most during your first mission here with Crew 223?

-Photography without a doubt! At the time of my first mission, I had started taking pictures of landscapes among other things and I loved it. But here at MDRS, you can find landscapes that you would encounter nowhere else except on Mars. Moreover, the opportunity to go outside the station in a spacesuit during EVAs to take pictures makes it all the more incredible. I love to take pictures of my crewmates doing their job during EVA in such an unreal environment! I still love to look at the old pictures I took two years ago!

-I have to say I love those pictures too, you did a great job!

(I personally encourage you to take a look at those beautiful pictures)

-Wow thank you so much!

-I truly mean it!

You seem to have enjoyed this first mission so much. What is the thing that you’ve been missing the most during those two years on Earth between the two missions?

-The thing I’ve been missing since I came back on Earth is something you discover really soon on Mars. It is the lack of distraction. On Earth, it is merely impossible to work on something for more than two hours without receiving a notification or being distracted by something. Personally, I tend to be distracted easily by that kind of thing, and being on Mars is a real opportunity for me to work far more productively than on Earth.

-And is there a thing that you haven’t been missing at all?

-Yes for sure! The absence of the internet and being disconnected from the world is a double-edged sword. There are a lot of things that you take for granted on Earth but that is impossible on Mars. Googling something or buying something at your local store for your dinner recipe is not possible on Mars and sometimes it can be quite frustrating. So sometimes you’re glad to live on Earth for that kind of thing.

-Yes I can definitely see what you are talking about!

So, this year you are the Commander of the crew. Can you explain to us what is the role of a Commander and how does this role affects the way you live this mission?

-Ok so the Commander is the most experienced member of the crew because he has already done a mission. For this reason, he knows the station and how everything works inside it well. So this role is about supervision. Your job is to help your crewmates do their job properly, avoid mistakes, answer their questions and guide them to do a good job. This is a completely different perspective from two years ago when I was, just like you are now, the crew’s journalist.

As a journalist, my job was to gather information about the day and compile everything in my report but it was kind of a passive job. Now that I am here as a Commander my task is to be much more active. I am the person who knows what to do best and how to do it so I have to be ready to help and answer questions from my crewmates.

-From my point of view, it is very pleasant and comforting at the beginning of the mission to have somebody who you can rely on. You are always here to answer our questions and you’ve been here since the beginning of this mission to train us. I think you do your job well and I want to thank you for that!

Clement thank you very much for your time!

This concluded the interview. In the next reports, we are definitely going to do interviews of my other crewmates so stay tuned!

Journalist Report February 1st

Journalist Report


Author: Pierre Fabre

Today was the day. The day we have been waiting for and working those past two years for.

This morning when we woke up, we were on Mars. This morning we left our beds when the sun was rising. We were not afraid of the strong radiations of the sun. Even if the atmosphere of Earth doesn’t protect us anymore, the walls of the Hab act like a shield against these radiations so we have nothing to be afraid of.

Today will be a great day, a day to remember our whole life. Today every member of the crew will perform their first EVA (Extra Vehicular Activity). What does that mean? We are going to leave our shield, our home, to go outside, on Mars. We are not going to go outside without being protected, we would die from it! We are going to wear our spacesuits to protect us from those lethal radiations! In addition to prevent us from dying, which is good, they look super cool!

So we start the morning with this feeling of excitement and nervousness ! But first our HSO is waiting for us for our morning workout

! We had no problem to endure it because we were only thinking of that incoming EVA.

There will be two EVAs today. For the first one, the plan is to go to the Marble Ritual area. This is the classic EVA that every crew does as a ritual. The aim is just to do a short EVA to feel more comfortable with wearing a spacesuit and driving a rover. The second one will have a scientific interest. We will go to North Ridge to map the area thanks to a drone. I will definitely talk to you in more details about this experiment later but for now I will try to describe as well as I can how you feel when you do an EVA on Mars.

9:30 : I am seated at the upper deck’s table. The crew’s commander, Clement Plagne, will do the briefing for the first EVA of the day. There is a huge map of the surroundings of the station on the table. My hands are becoming damp and I can feel the excitement growing inside of me. He puts his finger on a point on the Map : Marble Ritual, this is our destination.

For this EVA, I will be teamed up with Julie, the HSO. The other buddies will be Clement and Francois, our Engineer. Maxime, the astronomer will be our Hab Com. He is the man inside who communicates with us and makes sure everything is going well. The last member of the crew, Marion, will be in charge of taking care of the Green Hab while we are out. Marion and Maxime will participate in the second EVA of the day with Clement and myself.

9:45 : The excitement is still growing in me while I’m putting on my spacesuit with the kind help of my crew mates! I still have to test my radio and be ready to enter in the airlock at 10:00. The air conditioning system starts in my helmet and I can hear nothing but voices from the radio in my ear.

10:00 : I step into the airlock with my crew mates who are waiting for me. Maxime closes the door and we start the depressurisation. We have to stay 5 minutes in the airlock while the pressure is passing from the Earth pressure to the Mars pressure, which is 1000 times lighter.

10:04 : « one minute left » says the Hab Com in the radio. My breathing is fastening. I look to my crew mates and I can tell just by their face that they feel just like me.

10:04:50 : « ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one… » the door opens and the light comes in. After a flash that blinds me for a moment my eyes start to accommodate to the light and I can see the red colour of the sand and the rocky mountains in the background through the open door. « Welcome on Mars » says the Hab Com. The goosebumps get me. At this moment, I can’t contain a smile. This is the first result of two years of hard work that were truly worth it. A little thought to Raphael our botanist who would have loved that view and we step out of the station and land our first foot on the red soil of Mars. We dreamt so many times of this moment and now it’s real. But now we have to focus on our destination, the reason for this EVA. Marble Ritual is waiting for us!

Journalist Report February 1st

Crew 240 Sol Summary Report 02-01-2022

Sol: 1

Summary Title: Putting ourselves out there, somewhat

Author’s name: Clément Plagne

Mission Status: All is well!

Sol Activity Summary: Big day for EVAs, with two occurring in the same day. Morning EVA went on nominally, with crew members getting well acquainted with the procedures and the material at hand. Afternoon EVA had a few issues and required us to get back to the Hab once to fix a headset issue, but we still managed to achieve the objectives set. Meanwhile inside, work continued (with success!) on our 3D printer and for water conservation experiments.

Look Ahead Plan: We have a big EVA tomorrow for setting up our atmospheric experiments, which may take a while if we’re not all well prepared.

Anomalies in work: Crew members have been reporting discomfort with the headsets during EVA, with one microphone working poorly. We’ve put in a request for a new mic, and comfort issues we’ll try to alleviate ourselves. Spacesuit Seven has been spotty and turned off for a few seconds many times over an EVA. François has details of the issue in his Ops report

Weather: Cloudy but (relatively speaking) warm.

Crew Physical Status: Sore from our daily exercise, but no worse for wear

EVA: Two performed (EVA 1: 10:05 to 11:00, EVA 2: 14:41 to 16:25)

Reports to be filed: Operations Report, HSO report (with temperatures), Pictures, Journalist’s report, Sol Summary, EVA Request, EVA Reports (2)

Support Requested: Information about whether or not we can attempt a fix on spacesuit 7 during the coming day, or if Scott thinks it’s a bad idea. Request to use another suit for the next EVA.

We assumed there was a precision scale at the Science Dome but haven’t been able to find it. We read that in a fairly old version of the Science Dome inventory. Is it still there somewhere?

Journalist Report – January 31st

Crew 240 Journalist Report 31Jan2022

Author : Pierre Fabre

This day surely was a particular day, both confusing and exciting.

First, let me introduce myself briefly – don’t worry, my crewmates will be introduced properly later on. I’m Pierre, Crew 240’s Journalist, and for three weeks I will keep you updated on our mission on Mars.

Yes, you read that well, for three weeks we will perform a Martian mission. But let’s start by the beginning of that incredible day.

This morning we woke up in the Mars Desert Research Station, in the middle of nowhere, in an environment that looks like Mars, but in reality, is still on Earth. We will only be on Mars in the afternoon after our training is complete and the airlocks are locked.

First, it is 6:45 in the morning and we need to meet our Health and Safety Officer Julie at the lower deck to do our first workout as a crew – those morning workouts will be our routine during those three weeks. This first bit of exercise was hard for some members of the crew but it was fun and good for team building.

After our breakfast, Atila, the Assistant Director, came to visit us in order to finish up our training which started yesterday. We talked about the philosophy of the simulation, the history of MDRS, and how everything in the station works.

We tried on our spacesuit and went for a walk around the station to test them. It surely was exciting to walk in a place that looks so much like Mars, in a spacesuit, communicating only by radio with the noise of the air conditioning system in the helmet. But in reality, it is just a taste of what would be our first real EVA on Sol 1, on Mars. We can’t wait to do it!

Atila showed us how to properly drive the rovers at MDRS. Fun fact: they’re named after real rovers that went to Mars: Perseverance, Opportunity, Spirit, Curiosity… How cool is that? We went to Galileo Road in the cold of the Utah Desert. Driving a rover is not complicated, but with a spacesuit it will surely be a challenge, which we will discover tomorrow!

Our trainer Atila then left us and we had our last lunch on Earth, which was actually confusing since we already started to eat Martian food – more about Martian food in another report. After this lunch we went out of the station through the front airlock and we took the classic picture every crew takes before beginning the sim. This was the last time we were outside of the station without a spacesuit, the last time feeling the fresh air on our skin and in our lungs. With a lot of emotion we stepped into the front airlock and closed the door. The sim had begun.

This moment was all the more emotional because our botanist, and friend, Raphaël Dehont, spent two years of hard work preparing this mission with us, but couldn’t make it to the USA due to visa issues. This was a heart-breaking event and we miss him a lot on this Sol 0. In order to have him somehow with us during those three weeks, we took a small plushie as a mascot for him.

Now that the sim had begun, we all started to work on the tasks defined by our roles and on our experiments. Some stayed at the Hab and others started to fill the other buildings of the station: Science Dome, GreenHab, RAM (the names are cool, but not even as much as the rooms themselves).

Everyone starts to feel more and more at home in the station. At the time of writing this, we are all writing our reports for Mission Support. We’ll then have dinner, the first on Mars, and we’ll be off to bed. This can be seen as a very earthly routine, except we are on Mars, and tomorrow we will perform our first EVA and step for the first time on Martian soil.

Journalist Report – January 28th

Journal Report Sol 11 – 28Jan2022

Crew 226

The night sky is a beautiful sight to gaze upon and it was precisely what Cristian and Maria Paula saw late at night early Friday morning. The time was 12:30 am and the temperature was -6° C but that didn’t matter because they could not pass out on the opportunity to witness the Milky Way galaxy. Betelgeuse and the big dipper were some of their favorites to stare upon amongst the millions of other stars visible in the void.

This morning has been a little melancholic. We all are already mesmerized about all the experiences together on Mars.

Today at noon we officially ended our simulation. We started to get ready to get back to Earth, Felipe made some breakfast, the menu: Eggs with Spam, it was good. Then we started checking the SOC level since there was a power issue yesterday and Atila gently asked us to do so. During that time we did some cleaning, commander Yael started writing the mission summary report and asked us to share some info about our projects.
At around 10 am we were all working on the final details of our research results to finish the Mission Summary Report.
After that, Felipe and Maria Paula made lunch, he made a pizza and she made a delicious salad made with ingredients from the green-hab. Felipe also made a chocolate mousse for dessert that is in the freezer right now, I know that it will be delicious.

We watched a soccer match, Colombia vs Peru, for the 2022 Qatar World Cup Qualifiers. We were all super excited because both teams were tied in points and it would be a decisive win. Also, our dear friend Atila is Peruvian so we all had him in our minds during the game. Colombia dominated the game, but we all know it’s not about who dominates the game, it’s about which team scores the most goals… 1-0 win for Peru. Congrats Atila and Sebastian!

We played some thumb war and did some arm wrestling, Cristian is pretty strong!

Later on, we started doing the food inventory and some more cleaning to get the Hab ready and squeaky clean for the next crew rotation.

Bye-bye Mars, until next time…

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