Crew 197 Journalism Reports
OCTOBER 25, 2018 Journalist Report – October 25th Journalist’s Report Marge Lipton, Crew Journalist Oct 25, 2018
SOL 4: Lots of many small steps before even a tiny leap
Today’s EVA’s were focused on what is still needed before a Virtual Reality training application of the MDRS can show additional terrain via drones. You wouldn’t just want to bring your equipment without doing thorough reconnaissance.
The morning EVA had Jim, James, Robert and Max headed to Candor Chasma. It was estimated to be a 3 hour trip from end to end. While data was being fed back to the Hab, it was noticed that the GPS coordinates (which were being taken for the drone based photogrammetry of terrain for the VR shoot) were not the same as the lat/long on the map in the hab. There are apparently a few different ways of taking coordinates but the videographers are sticking with the GPS readings they personally took on their survey.
Readings were also taken at regular intervals for the battery levels of the rovers, Spirit and Opportunity. Spirit had reasonable readings at the 1 hour 45 minute mark, but Opportunity, had a level of 40% leading the group to turn back. Luckily they did, because yards away from arriving at the Hab a bright red light turned on. Today’s mistake seems to be that putting Opportunity in high gear uses up more juice. So instead of a planned 3 hour EVA, at close to the 2 hour mark, Opportunity needed to be pushed back to the station. It’s a good thing it was almost home by then. The crew is discussing ways it may or may not be possible to bring an extra battery or generator on the rover for just such an emergency in the future.
Robert, Max, Shannon and Marge were on the afternoon EVA. They took Spirit and Curiosity out to the Burpee Dinosaur site. Once there, Shannon took out his drone and flew it over the area to get an idea of what would work. We also took GPS and iPhone coordinates to be used when the actual VR shooting occurs. The group got into the rovers and headed to Lith Canyon after that, but found too much tumbleweed and greenery for it to be Mars.
As for feedback on the space suits, a few us found that while they were fine when walking or sitting still, riding in the rover over some of the potholes caused the helmet to bump into chins and teeth.
Overall our mission has been a success in that it will greatly facilitate the time when the future VR operation occurs.
POSTED ON OCTOBER 24, 2018 Journalist Report Oct 24th Sol 3 – Think like a Martian, Act like a Martian
Marge Lipton, Crew Journalist
After morning yoga and tai chi loosened us up, the first EVA
commenced. Suits were donned, earpieces inserted, radios turned on and
turned in to the correct channel, and suits were fastened with duct
tape at the wrist to keep any Martian air from touching our skin.
EVA #1 was comprised of James, Max, Shannon, and Jim. Before heading
out to Pooh’s Corner, a walk away from the Hab, they checked
engineering, and took photos. Then they split into two groups, two
people took a detour to the Rock Garden, the other two went directly
to Poohs’ Corner. When they all reached that destination they called
in to Hab Com in to find out how much time was left and decided to
come back to base, get a rover and head west for their remaining time.
MISTAKE! When they eventually came back to base, even though the
commander had agreed to their extra excursion, they learned an
important lesson. Think like a Martian, act like a Martian. What that
means is that if you’re given a mission, and you’ve completed it,
don’t take on unnecessary risk. Astronauts on the space station don’t
walk over to the other side when they’ve finished a task just because
they want to. But how are we going to learn if we don’t make mistakes?
Paraphrasing Neil Armstrong in the movie First Man, “Better to fail on
earth than on Mars.” But because our mission is basically about
mapping what needs to be captured in Virtual Reality, that part was a
The next group, Susan, Robert, Sacha, Jim and Marge went out after
lunch to Pooh’s Corner. The protocol is to suit up, gather in the
airlock until being given permission by Hab Com to egress. Our mission
was a success as we wandered around the beautiful Martian surface on
the lookout for interesting rocks and dinosaur bones.
The spacesuit makers, Max and Robert, debriefed us afterwards to hear
what suggestions we had for making them better. Since we’re a photo
mission, besides the comfort and fogginess of some helmets,
consideration was given to where VR and 360 cameras as well as other
paraphernalia could possibly be placed.
Engineering monitored our life supporting equipment. The marvelous HAL
(Habitat Activity Lexica) monitor went down. It’s comprised of various
modules keeping track of crew activity and is in the process of being
And later tonight we’re having that discussion on the moral dimensions
of space travel. Stay tuned!
POSTED ON OCTOBER 23, 2018 Journalist Report October 22nd Mars Crew 197 – Sol 1 – It’s a Wrap (Already??)
Marge Lipton – Crew 197 Journalist
We arrived at dusk last night and were treated to the soft luscious colors of a southwest sunset. Our crew faced earthly challenges like delayed flights and lost luggage, but persevered, fitting 5 people and too many pieces of luggage to count in a Nissan Pathfinder for the two and a half hour drive to the station. We squeezed everything in, but as newly minted Martians this became a bonding experience. Because it’s clear that besides all the engineering and technology in getting humans to Mars, it’s impossible not to take into consideration how best to get a diverse group of people to get along in such close quarters.
Our first day, today was the start of the MDRS season and involved a lot of housecleaning, from mopping and vacuuming, to setting up new posts to build the simulated pressurized tunnel allowing us to walk between different buildings. After the posts were pounded into the ground, we then WRAPPED the tarps overhead. Rovers had to be moved into position and the MDRS car needed to be taken in for a tune-up.
Crew members discussed what each wanted to accomplish on this mission, and tried to figure out especially, how we were going to remain in sim while also trying to get the best VR coverage of the sites James and Shannon wanted. In practice, this meant, to break sim or not wear a helmet or not on the EVA.
We were interrupted in our WRAPPING of the tunnel by rain, later followed by thunderstorms. So we took the opportunity to make WRAPS of tuna, avocado and tomato.
So as I said, that’s a wrap for today.