Crew 200 Journalism Reports
POSTED ON DECEMBER 13, 2018 Journalist Report – December 13th Sol: 11 Acting Journalist: Lindsay Rutter 12-13-2018
Mesas surround us with their red striations. Iron oxide that pumped through the hearts of long-deceased stars. It is only skin-deep, our crew geologist says. Dig a few inches and the soil is an anemic grey.
We wake up one morning to the aftermath of heavy snowfall. Our world radiates a blinding white from all directions and our loud orange spacesuits only add to the dizzying effect.
Nighttime at last. Our eyes can heal. A jet-black globe encircles us. We were swallowed by a giant galactic beast. Shy stars I have never seen before come out from hiding. Light does not litter this isolated land. We can perceive stars with apparent magnitudes reaching the limits of human visual perception from this area, our crew astronomer says. How much deeper into the night sky can other creatures see from this planet? Their lenses hard at work focusing the light like tiny organic telescopes.
A spacesuit greets me with a dramatic new makeover as I enter the habitat one afternoon. A crew member is painting her spacesuit head to toe with splashes of color. Extravehicular activities are hard work, she says. The colors represent the energy flowing through different parts of her body. These senses can be transcribed into color. I ask her if she has heard of synesthesia.
Entering the GreenHab and I can almost smell the color green. The plants absorb red and blue and reflect a green perfume. Colors feed the plants and the plants feed us.
Our crew engineer troubleshoots the power control board, our lifeline on this harsh terrain. Five lights blink furiously. Red. Green. Red. Red. Green. He asks me to confirm which color is which. Not everyone perceives these colors the same.
The Martian flag hangs proudly in the airlock. An unofficial tricolor design with red, green, and blue stripes. For many, these colors represents the terraformation of Mars, a topic that remains a matter of debate. I have experienced many new things during this mission and have grown from a full spectrum of viewpoints of my crew mates. Mars means different things to different people, from the red dot to the blue dot.
POSTED ON DECEMBER 12, 2018 Journalist Report – December 12th As we prepare for breakfast, we decide on which Rovers we would like to take on today’s EVA. I look out the window. The rovers are gone. I suppose the robots are using them…
So change of plans. We have to do a walking EVA. Well, THEY do. It’s my turn to do HabCom!I’ve been looking forward to this. Not because I don’t like to walk around in a clunky spacesuit (I’d be on the wrong planet if I did), but because I can get a different perspective as an observer and director. I get Antoine and Lindsay set up with their gloves and comms, squirming around their ECLSS backpacks. I allow them to enter the airlock and begin depressurization. I look above through the window to see them walk down the balcony and off to Phobos Peak.
It’s a rather boring HabCom. All of the places the team went to had at least comprehend-able connection, though I suppose it is good to know where we still have great coverage. I’m happy with my team, conducting another successful mission.
The day is spreading by, the days are moving faster. Is tomorrow Thursday? Is it really that close? I think of my home, my parents eager to see me for Christmas. My friends who are done with finals and can finally hang out. I feel the crisp chill of a Texas winter. It was a distant thought only a few days ago, but now it’s nearly tangible.
I wonder if I will ever be here again. If this moment on the dusty planet will be my last. Even more pressing, I wonder if my work here will make a difference.
“You are clear to enter the airlock”
An abrupt wind storm sweeps the region. The tunnels that connect the secure building are shaking. Antoine goes out to fix it. Realizing the severity, he calls for help. Lindsay starts to put on her coat. Do I go? Should I stay? What if the tunnel rips apart and I’m the only one alive? I end up following them after a few minutes. The wind is strong and rattling the whole structure. We make the decision to come back inside, it’d be better to wait the storm than be so vulnerable.
Mars is not safe. There are people back home depending on our sense of precaution and protocol to come back home. Moments like these make me think of the real scenario, if I can make the calls to make sure that happens.
Sometimes, I hope Mars will be boring.
POSTED ON DECEMBER 11, 2018 Journalist Report – December 11th Crew 200 Journalist Report 11-DEC-2018
- In spoken word format*
Where would I be if I chose education over learning? I would have arose this morning, on Earth. I would’ve taken the exam that kept me on Earth, yesterday. Because all things considered, at the end of the day, I am here for school. A professor will rule a grade that affects my career. My research on Mars doesn’t get graded at the end of year. The rules say I’m a student before an engineer.
Well, this isolation does something at MDRS, especially for the engineering mind. Where the problem is undefined. The method is up to you, but the solution is experience and time.
At the end of the day, when you take your course books offline, your education is now experiential Your learning has boundless potential
Heat Transfer lessons leap off bound textbooks As Antoine finds nooks in the Hab to refine his model. Computer Science lab is now carried by Lindsay’s work to meet the need of a report reading software. Everyday, we code through another layer.
I’m on EVA, my phone on display to the GPS received from 16 of 23 satellites I learned about in a lecture in class. I might lose signal with the Hab Com, but we have protocol, procedures, to anticipate all scenarios so we can come home safe. We did. Not a minute too soon or too late.
Do I have my priorities straight? Would it have been better to wait until I graduate? Or until I have Dr. in front of my name, Where a professor would have respect for me same? When the difference between Mars and Earth is only a final examination, I will choose learning over education.
POSTED ON DECEMBER 10, 2018 Journalist Report – December 10th Crew 200 Journalist Report 10-DEC-2018
On the last day of our nominal mission, we filmed a video that introduced the habitat and its surrounding buildings. We filmed it using Italian, Chinese, French, Japanese, German, and English, with each crew member hosting a part of it. We had to “rehearse” it beforehand to film it in one continuous shot. It was a memorable way to finish our mission, highlight the diverse nature of our team, and illuminate that MDRS is for the global public. We strive to continue demonstrating these values during our extended mission.
Today marks the first simulation date for our reduced three-member crew. Roles that four members impeccably served during the nominal mission are now vacant. We need to be fast-learning jacks and jills of all trades, even more so now than we did before. With the sudden departure of crew members who were culinarily inclined, something as simple as cooking could prove dismal. Thankfully, we have not resorted to eating habitat mice! We tap into skills acquired from the full crew and our creative juices to concoct delicious meals derived from dehydrated ingredients.
We were given the special opportunity to plan and perform the first EVA with a three-member crew, which we achieved today. We applied a communication protocol where we recorded QSA and QRK codes every minute and GPS coordinates every four minutes. Throughout the week, we aim to map the strength and readability of radio communication for areas surrounding the habitat. We will also develop a risk analysis matrix for three-member EVAs based on our experiences. We are motivated to contribute fresh knowledge in the area of reduced crew EVAs for the benefit of MDRS and beyond.
Tonight we celebrate our successful EVA with spaghetti and pesto, garnished with basil leaves from the GreenHab. We will also harvest the GreenHab to make a small and hearty salad. Admittedly sprinkled with water gnats, also courtesy of the GreenHab. Thank you to CapCom and others back on Earth for supporting us on this three-person mission. We will not let you down!
POSTED ON DECEMBER 9, 2018 Journalist Report – December 9th Crew 200 Journalist Report 09-DEC-2018
I awoke to see light through the cracks of my door, the sun shining and sweeping the living room with hollow brightness. Three chairs wait our for rising, sleepy astronauts. The coffee pot and tea kettle sit for the order of 1 green tea, 2 black coffees, no more. The water tank pump has a moment of relief with the reduced crew. And saying the toilet was in better shape is an understatement.
The astronauts awoke, and the hollowness filled with warmth.
Antoine, Lindsay, and I enjoy a casual morning, discussing the evolving commercial space industry and our new roles. We got lost in conversation with the MDRS Director about the rich history of this place we can temporarily call home. I look to my crewmates, now peers, and see the same inspiration and dedication to make this place better. This spirit carried through the rest of the day, as we collected water for the static tank, dumped garbage, and helped repair the tunnel. As we plan to do the first EVA ever done with a 3 member crew. As we do the jobs of seven. We are young, fresh in our understanding of Mars, the space industry, and leadership. But we are adaptable, ready for the challenges of today, and dedicated to the future of innovation across borders and cultures. We are truly the generation that will carry humanity to the red planet.
We are ready to awake the Earth when we return.
POSTED ON DECEMBER 7, 2018 Journalist report – December 7th 7-Dec-2018
It has brought me so much joy to be a part of this successful mission. I will miss the uplifting team dynamics of this international crew. There were countless times when I was reminded that the power of our diverse team was more than the sum of its individual members. Embarking on EVAs always comes with a risk and team members continuously helped one other climb geographical features and cross slippery areas. Even though each of us entered this mission with our own research projects, neat interdisciplinary projects were formed during the mission. A study investigating the strength of concrete built from Earth sand versus Martian soil and a study examining the heat transfer of the habitat using an infrared camera morphed into a proposal to study the heat transfer properties of concrete built from Earth sand versus Martian soil. Sharing our ideas and resources has made this mission a success.
Today, we continued answering questions from school children from Qatar. It was endearing to be asked by an eager student if there is a school on Mars. While some questions were light-hearted, others were more philosophical and we returned to discussions on the ethics of terraforming another planet and how or whether resource management and human rights could be improved today on Earth and one day on other planets. As we prepare to conclude our mission, I cannot help but feel inspired and impressed by the example of international collaboration and volunteer efforts here at MDRS. Indeed, the MDRS represents successful teamwork at a larger level than Crew 200. Thank you for welcoming the seven of us crew members to be a part of this mission.
POSTED ON DECEMBER 6, 2018 Mission Support Crew 200 Journalist Report December 6th 06-DEC-2018
Shannon told us at the beginning of the mission to notice the moment where we felt like we were truly living on Mars. For me, I experienced this moment. On EVA, as I followed behind my strong fellow crew members across the snowy red hills around the MDRS, I took a deep breath inside my spacesuit helmet. We were returning to the Hab after a difficult hike through the hills to collect soil samples. One crew member helped another across a small stream. As we helped each other trek across the landscape indicating the best places to step and lending a hand when needed, I truly felt a part of a crew on Mars.
Meanwhile, while the women of the crew went on EVA, the men were in the Hab continuing their experiments in the lab and in the kitchen. Lunch was fantastic (the first bread we’ve had since the mission began). And dinner was superb! We had baked tuna melt. Although, it was more like baked tuna crisp since we forgot to rehydrate the cheese before putting it in the oven. Delicious all the same – we ate every bite of the huge pan. Thanks to our Crew Astronomer (it’s been cloudy out so now he is the Crew Chef).
Today we also had guests. We answered all their questions and showed them around the Hab. Oakley Jennings-Fast
POSTED ON DECEMBER 4, 2018 Journalist Report – December 4th Sol 3: Life through the porthole
Acting Journalist: Andrew Foster
The snow from Sol 1 remains, and with temperatures plummeting last night we stay in the safety of the Hab with our EVA plans on hold for the time being. The crew is working very well together, continuing with science projects this morning and adapting plans as best possible to the weather conditions. Our Commander very kindly gave a first aid refresher followed by a delicious lunch of rice, potato and pea mix. There are no leftovers and plates barely need cleaning!
In the afternoon, we had a group discussion and a welcome team building exercise. The group considered questions from one of our outreach projects – Can plants survive on Mars? How will we get water? How can we generate electricity? What is the best way to cover large distances and could we ever fly on Mars? What is the best way to produce our oxygen? So many questions to be answered before we can journey to and live on the Red Planet.
Although the weather has curtailed our EVA activities, the crew has showed great bonding in a short space of time, being patient, kind, and supporting each other.
We look through the porthole – the cold conditions outside are fairly close to a spring day on the Martian equator, and think of living and working on a world so similar and so different to our own..
POSTED ON DECEMBER 3, 2018 Journalist Report – December 3rd Journalist Report:
Today at the habitat we shared our experience with our guests who were visiting. We demonstrated our cooking ability for them and the creativity of cooking with dehydrated food. Our guests were impressed with the facilities and the cooking. The crew has been working together superbly. Crew members are jumping in to help each other, often without being prompted. One example of collaboration was maintaining the solar observatory. Three Martians aided in the repair of the observatory. This required cooperation during cold conditions coordinating directions both written and received remotely from Earth. In addition, the snow yesterday was simultaneously stunningly beautiful and nerve-racking. The snowy perfection represented the unknown. What would these conditions mean for the mission? But we pressed forward and continued our training. Well before the mud and conditions were too severe, we ceased EVAs and continued our training in the safety of the Hab. This demonstrated our crews resilience and flexibility. We are thinking like Martians.
POSTED ON NOVEMBER 15, 2018 Journalist Report – November 15th Houston, we’ve had a problem. We’ve had a main bus B undervolt. Right now voltage is looking good. We’ve had a pretty large bang associated with the caution and warning there. As I recall, main B was the one that had an amp spike on it once before. In the interim here we’re starting to go ahead and button up the tunnel again. That jolt must have rocked the sensor on O2 quantity too. It was oscillating down around 20 to 60 percent. Now it’s full-scale high again. And Houston, we had a restart on our computer and we had a PGNCS light and the restart reset. And we’re looking at our service module RCS Helium 1. We have B is Barber poled and D is barber poled, Helium 2, D is barber pole and secondary propellants I have A and C barber pole BMAG temperatures? AC2 is showing zip. I’m going to try to reconfigure on that. We’ve got a main bus A undervolt now too showing.
I tried to reset and fuel cell 1 and 3 are both showing gray flags but they are both showing zip on the flows….
Spaceballs one has now gone to plaid
POSTED ON NOVEMBER 13, 2018 Journalist Report – November 13th Journalist report;
Today we launched a rocket. Not just any rocket a repurposed Nike sounding rocket from the early days of the space program when we were still defining the winds in the upper atmosphere. At the launch we established effective range safety and cleared our airspace with an official NOTAM to the regulatory agencies controlling the airspace around our habitat. The rocket flew to 8200 feet and was safely recovered in a nearby field after a successful parachute recovery. No lives were lost and no animals were hurt in this demonstration so we count is a resounding success. To commemorate our success we ate a hearty meal of quiche and cinnamon rolls. After our launch we retired to the habitat for a customized exercise program, our traditional communal dinner and debriefings.
POSTED ON NOVEMBER 13, 2018 journalist report – november 12th Today was our first full day on Mars. We started with very limited power thanks to the system failures detailed by Shannon previously. We also had some lectures from Rick on various space medicine topics, including ultrasound in space flight, winter survival, water survival, and the role of the flight surgeon. We also conducted an EVA and simulated a medical contingency while descending rocky scree. Finally, we had a lecture from Sean Serell, our rocketry specialist, who is directing the launching of our rocket tomorrow. The crew is tired in a good way, and very excited for tomorrow!