Crew 174 - Journalism Reports

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Journalist Report – January 31st Journalist Report Sol-02 Reported by: Arpan Vasanth Stars are magical, it has a power to attract, helps us to rethink and reimagine. It also imbibes in us a passion to reach out for it, they are the most influencing objects helping one develop a quest for space exploration. The Team Planeteers (MDRS Crew 174) consists of a special blend of individuals who have been influenced at a very young age. Our crew commander Mamatha shares that she was fascinated by our solar system and the never ending universe. She credits her high school teacher largely for all the information provided by taking a step away from the usual syllabus. She adds that her zeal to become an astronaut led her to purse further studies in space domain. Mamatha also shares her undergraduate experience of building the first Indian Pico Satellite (STUDSAT – STUDent SATellite), the challenges faced and the determination of the complete team to make it fly in a limited time slot. She now works for lunar path and mars pathfinder mission by taking the game to a whole new level! Way out of Lower Earth Orbit (LEO), where STUDSAT was placed. She believes Mars analog mission will help her to develop key field tactics required for future manned missions. A book on our solar system with a cover page of space shuttle launch caught our executive officer Saroj’s interest in space during his grade six, During his schooling he would collect the articles on space missions which he has preserved it till date. Having gained enormous knowledge about mission plans during Project STUDSAT-2, he is now working on nuclear fusion propulsion technology for deep space inter-planetary missions. He believes in not just designing but also flying in one, hence he feels MDRS would be a perfect platform to get a glimpse of his childhood and future aspirations to eventually land on Mars one day. To be able to colonize on MARS it is important to have a good understanding of the Martian atmosphere and geology. This brings to our next crew geologist Sai Arun, who says his biggest inspiration to get into the MDRS mission is, India’s first women astronaut Kalpana Chawla and expresses his desire to follow similar path. He adds that the citizen science radio astronomy group played an important role as well and wish to pursue research in Planetary science. Coming to crew biologist of our team, Sneha’s (also lead chef of our mission !) journey, regular visits to planetariums and other space museums triggered the interest in her. The opportunity she got to work as a team member in Project STUDSAT paved the way for her to pursue her childhood interest. The passion she has for space leads her to work on research related to space communication. When approached with the opportunity to work on a Mars analog mission, the idea of living an astronaut life excited her. She adds that she is here to push her boundaries, live the astronaut life to the fullest and try her level best to support the mission and learn how to make the red planet a place to live for future humans. Last but not the least about myself, I am fascinated with deep space missions and MDRS pushes the envelop in developing the skills required for such missions. After having worked in STUDSAT, I feel this is an excellent opportunity to reunite with old team mates and recreate the old magic! Now coming back to life at Mars! The weather has been excellent ever since we landed here and it perfectly replicates the summer of Mars with temperature hovering around -10degree C to +5 degree C. Crew members Saroj and Sneha carried out their first EVA today. The goal was to collect different samples of Martian soil for greenhab experiment, both returned to the hab safely. Arun is lost with the Martian map trying to figure out key areas for his research. He is also planning for a night photo shoot session shortly! We are planning to wind up the day with botany experiments.

Sol Summary – February 1st Journalist report Sol 03

It has been just corn flakes for the breakfast ever since we landed on Mars, so we started our day with pasta for a change which happens to be one of my favourite dishes! I appreciate the extra efforts Italians put to get the perfect recipes and how particular they are with the cooking. I recollect our commander Mamatha’s experience with her Italian friend who accidentally spotted the over cooked pasta during lunch break and presented mamatha a timer clock the next day with a tag just 10 minutes!!! The breakfast discussion was about our geologist Arun and scientist Saroj’s previous night star trail photo session inside tunnel which turns out to be hilarious! We had a laughter riot when Saroj recalled how Arun was scared of Martian cats attack!! Yes we heard stories of the Martian cats spotting from a very close source 😉 They did also spot a beam of light near the solar panel area, it must be of an alien spaceship!! Amidst chaos and in the verge of getting to the hab quickly, Arun had his heart in the mouth after dropping his camera. He was relieved after finding out just the UV filters was shattered! Post breakfast crew biologist Sneha sowed the germinated seeds in pots. She will be studying the effects of Vitamin D on the growth of plants. Each set of pots have been placed in misian Martian lamp and greenhab area. By noon, Arun and Saroj left for the planned EVA, the primary goal was to collect rock samples with mineral composition to help Arun with his geology research. We were expecting quite a lot of pictures of the activity but sadly it turns out the SD card was forgotten!!! I guess there is a camera curse and the team intends to remove the same using age old Indian technique “kala teeka” (removal of bad omens). Sol 04 is going to be an exciting day, as our commander will be joining us. Can’t wait to start the planetary protection studies.

Journalist Report – February 6th Weekly Journalist Report Prepared by: Arpan Vasanth (Crew Journalist) Sol: 08 Earth Date: 02.06.2017 For many, a space trip begins with the launch and ends with the re-entry footages of the launch vehicle. But this merely is the tip of a spear. The reality is every manned mission is a complex and intertwined operation!

Dick Costolo (CEO, Twitter) quotes “Timing, perseverance and ten years of trying will is all it takes to make you look like an overnight success”. Astronauts are the perfect example for the amount of practice and dedication that goes into before each and every mission. We had set out for such an epic experience to Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) to seek perfection and it has been already a week here on Mars. As the time progressed the team has mastered the approach for Martian life, be it simple things like covering plates with aluminium foils to save water or walkie talkie operations. The life on Mars so far has taught us the hard way to live and made each individual stronger in the way we approach bigger issues. I still recap struggling to suit up for the first EVA and the ease with which it’s been done now. Thus the odds of us being able to last or outlast are greatly improved over our chances of survival for this week as well. Although the first week did not start with all the team members on board/test kits not arriving on-time, it ended on a good note! The team coped up well with the surprises and now most of the things have fallen into place. The botany experiment is promising and we have started to observe good shoot and root growth. The sample collections for the geology research is progressing amidst the difficulty of getting in and out the exact Extra Vehicular Activity (EVA) site. The planetary protection experiment comprises of two parts, the first one is to observe the contamination outside the hab and the second one is to find out within the hab. The first part has been successfully completed and the team is planning to wind up the second set of activities towards the end of this week. Apart from technical work, the team had a very good time be it early morning briefings/breakfast preparation/breakfast discussions/recalling previous day blunders/EVAs/lunch time laughter’s/debriefing/evening cup of tea/usual deny of physical fitness activity from our biologist Sneha/7PM – 9PM intense CapCom sessions wherein commander will be glued onto chair like an idol/dinner preparations/planning next day activities. Although Martian day is slightly longer than that of the Earth’s day, the time here passes quickly and we have entered the final week of our mission. Last weekend was a special one as our commander Mamatha celebrated her orbital anniversary on Mars! The whole team had planned for her special celebration, the master chef Sneha had baked a delicious pineapple cake! The midnight celebration was supposed to be a surprise one however, around 11 PM the crew scientist Saroj almost woke up Mamatha by bursting a balloon while decorating the hab. Somehow we managed the celebration as planned and the crew savoured the cake! Sunday was the most exciting day as I planned my first drone experiment along with Sneha and Mamatha to help understand EVA scenario beforehand, after months of preparations to get the right equipment I was very eager to fly it on Mars for the first time! Luckily the drone could connect to a lot of satellites, after careful pre-flight checks it was time to fly! Two beautiful ladies were up the small hill for a couple of high elevation footages and photo sessions towards the end of the EVA! As Nick Woodman (CEO GoPro) quotes “I feel like in a world where we all try to figure out our place and our purpose here, your passions are one of the most obvious guides”. Following our most obvious guides, we are here to absorb the most of the Martian life!