Crew Photos – December 25th

Baking action shot! Shelf-stable ingredients make surprisingly good croissants.
Commander Gibson watches a pseudo-haboob out the window.
Connor can’t contain his excitement as he opens his gift.
King Anselm surveys his kingdom.
Sean takes his pick of presents in the crew’s gift swap.
The crew enjoys breakfast together before opening Christmas crackers.
A Very Martian Christmas!

Science Report – December 25th

Geology Report: Today we celebrated Christmas as a crew! On tomorrow’s EVA I plan to have the team check on the cameras because the strong winds we received last night may have blown them over. We had a few gusts over 30 mph. Today was again much sunnier and thus we saw increased solar radiation at ground level and much higher peak GreenHAB temps. My final two EVAs will be this week and I hope to gather some great data on them with the cameras before departing MDRS next Sunday. Hopefully we will see some wind-driven erosion in the time-lapse videos from the gales that occurred yesterday and today.

This week looks to contain many clear nights so I will use one of the time-lapse cameras set to night mode to record star movements in the sky.

Max/Min: Outdoor Temp – 33 F – 45 F
Outdoor Humidity – 25% – 96%
GreenHab Temp – 36 F – 87 F
GreenHAB Humidity – 18% – 69%
Barometer – 28.97 – 29.44 inHg
Wind – 10-15 mph, gust – 32 mph
Solar Rad. Max – 439.6 W/m^2
UV Index – 912 uW/cm^2
Recorded Precipitation today – 0.00 in

Submitted by Connor Lynch – Crew Geologist/Astrophysicist

Daily Summary Report – December 25th

Daily Summary Report

SOL: 07

Person filling out Report: Alison Gibson, Commander

Summary Title: A Windy Christmas

Mission Status: Ready for a productive week

Sol Activity Summary: We started the day with a Christmas breakfast feast, did our Yankee Swap, played games, and ended the afternoon with a movie.

Look Ahead Plan: EVA to Candor Chasma

Anomalies in work:  We had an intense wind storm last night and the cover blew off the hole in the top of the Hab. It was reinstalled as best as possible, but may need future improvements.

Weather: Partly cloudy, High 45F, Low 33F, wind gusts up to 33 mph

Crew Physical Status: Fully functional

EVA: Our EVA was postponed until tomorrow to avoid strong winds and celebrate the holiday

Reports to be filed: Sol Summary, Operations Report, Science Report

Support Requested: None

Science Report – December 24th

Geology Report: Today I rounded up the first time-lapse camera that I
put outside. It seemed to function well in the elements and caught
scenes of the HAB and sky. The sky was clearer and we were actually
able to see the Sun which warmed the outside air and GreenHAB.

Today I placed that camera in a location near the HAB looking East
toward the main road and along a hillside. If we get rain today we may
see some drainage patterns or erosion features. The second camera was
placed just north of the HAB and is looking due North toward the Lower
Blue Hills and Skyline Rim.

Overall I hope to evaluate the use of this time lapse photography in
this Mars-like terrain in order to evaluate how effective it would be
on Mars.


Philosophy of Colonizing Mars Report: In our second installment of
this philosophy report, we want to discuss the effects of living and
working on Mars on future astronauts. The radius of Mars is on the
order of half that of Earth and the mass is about 1/10. Using Newtons
Law the gravitational force on the surface of the planet will only be
40% that of Earth (actually 38%). This will result in progressive bone
loss over time and vision problems among other things.

Future astronauts will have to build exercise time and activity into
their busy schedules in order to stay healthy. Research is already
being done by NASA and on the ISS to see the effects of low gravity on
the human body. Hopefully we can think of every possible human factor
before sending humans to Mars. Only then will we be fully prepared.

GreenHab Report – December 24th

GreenHab Report:

We have some good news and some bad news to report from the
GreenHab today.  As is customary, bad news first.  It seems that the
heater in the GreenHab has stopped heating.  We have been monitoring
the temperature both inside and outside the GreenHab since Sol 1 and
despite the warmer weather, the temperature within the GreenHab is now
within 5 degrees F of the outside temperature which is the closest it
has ever been.  Inspecting the heater, it is apparent that it is just
circulating air and not performing any heating action.  We are thus
taking actions to protect the plants by moving them into the living
habitat in order to prevent death.  Now for the good news!  Our
seedlings are doing great!  In addition to the sprouts we reported
yesterday, we can now see that several onion, at least three popcorn,
and a pinto bean have germinated and will soon be ready for nutrient
and transplant.  Hopefully we will be able to put them into the
aquaponics system by the time they are ready for transplant.


Max/Min: Outdoor Temp – 33 F – 48 F

Outdoor Humidity – 65% – 93%

GreenHab Temp – 47 F – 66 F

GreenHAB Humidity – 45% – 59%

Barometer – 29.00 – 29.53 inHg

Wind – 6.5 mph, gust – 7.4 mph

Solar Rad. Max – 162.5 W/m^2

UV Index – 505 uW/cm^2

Recorded Precipitation today – 0.02 in

Daily Summary Report – December 24th

Daily Summary Report
SOL: 06
Person filling out Report: Anselm Wiercioch, XO
Summary Title: Christmas Eve
Mission Status: Research moving along, but slowly.
Sol Activity Summary: Slow day. Brought greenhab plants inside.
Look Ahead Plan: EVA to Candor Chasma tomorrow
Anomalies in work: Nothing
Weather: High 33F, Low 48F, wind avg 6.5mph, gust 7.4mph, precip
0.02″, grey cloudy skies
Crew Physical Status: Active. Full crew functional.
EVA: Postponed due to prior precipitation. Too muddy.
Reports to be filed:
– Sol Summary
– Science Reports
– 6-8 Photos
– EVA Plan

Commander Report – December 24th

Alison Gibson

Commander Report

24 Dec 2016 – Sol 6

Mission Support,

We’re officially halfway through our mission. While it started out feeling slow, the days are going by much quicker now that we’re accustomed to our Martian schedule. We have been looking forward to Christmas all week as a chance to take a break and relax. We each brought a wrapped mystery gift in order to have a Yankee Swap (a.k.a. White Elephant Gift Exchange) on Christmas Day. I think we’re all hoping to end up with a gift that can provide some sort of entertainment in the coming week. We have a few makeshift decorations around the Hab to help get us into the spirit. Happy Holidays!

With the help of Mission Support, we have resolved our internet connectivity issues. We’re all able to use the internet for approximately 3 hours a day before hitting our data limit, which seems to be sufficient for maintaining brief email communications with Earthlings and CapComm each evening. The facilities are all fully functional and crew spirits are high. We have a lot of work to do in the coming week to finish our mission goals, so will have a full schedules between the holiday and the end of the mission. We look forward to welcoming the next crew in a week.

A Sol Summary, Engineering Report, Science Report, and photos will follow.

Ad Astra per Aspera!

Alison Gibson

Commander, MDRS Crew 171 (SEDS)

Crew Photos – December 23rd

The EVA crew poses after reaching their destination
Weather monitoring equipment shows abnormal temperatures in the GreenHab
Brittany and Sean smile while stopping to confirm plans
Brittany leads the EVA team northwards
Sean grins at the mouth of the ravine which the EVA crew explored.
With light snowfall both yesterday and today, the EVA was a rather damp affair.

Science Report – December 23rd

Science Reports
Geology Report: Outside the humidity has stayed high and the temperatures have remained fairly constant. The temperatures in the GreenHAB have stayed lower than what is optimal growing temperatures. The clouds have also reduced the Solar Flux reaching the ground and thus will hinder photosynthesis.

During our next EVA I will gather my time lapse camera from near the HAB and place another one outside that points toward a geologically interesting area. Near one of the hill sides by the HAB could be good because the forecasted rain will drain and we can watch the change over time.

Max/Min: Outdoor Temp – 31 F – 37 F
Outdoor Humidity – 88% – 99%
GreenHAB Temp – 50 F – 62 F
GreenHAB Humidity – 39% – 49%
Barometer – 29.50 – 29.60 inHg
Wind – 3.0 mph, gust – 4.5 mph
Solar Flux Max – 132.1 W/m^2
UV Index – 455 uW/cm^2
Recorded Precipitation – 0.04 in


Mars Self-Sleep Study Update: Even though we have struggled with adhering to the new sleep schedule, we recognize that it would probably improve our 24 hr productivity. This new schedule would prove to be beneficial because our window of free WiFi is from 2-7 MST (Mars Standard Time). We can be awake during a big chunk of this time and get some work done.

In general I think we are more productive as a crew when we go to bed earlier and get up earlier. If we were to go to bed by around 9 pm and wake up by 5 am we might be more productive in the mornings. Experimenting these new sleep schedules (either in one chunk or multiple) proves to be difficult but will pay off for future astronauts.


Philosophy of Colonizing Mars Report: I want to start discussing in this new report the ethics and vision of colonizing Mars. As a crew we feel this is an important issue to make public as we immerse ourselves in this research simulation. One idea I want to talk about in this first installment is planetary protection of the environment. When we create a permanent human settlement on the surface of Mars we will have to think about the ways in which we will protect the environment and to what extent it will be altered. Global warming is obviously an issue we know about here on Earth. On Mars we must think critically about the effects of our actions so that we can work and thrive while maintaining a balance with the Martian landscape.

Submitted by Connor Lynch – Crew Geologist/Astrophysicis

Journalist Report – December 23rd

Sol 05
Journalist Report
Authored by Anselm Wiercioch

The main event of the day (other than fresh scones) was the second
major EVA to the area we’ve named the “dinosaur quarry.” There are a
lot of interesting geological formations there that resemble dinosaur
bones. The area seems like it may have been a small reservoir at some
point, but is obviously long since dried up. It’s about 15 minutes
away on our individual electric rovers. A cold, bumpy ride but not too
bad. Some insulation lessons were learned from the first expedition on
Sol 03. After a long exploration of the quarry area, the crew
regrouped in the hab. A few showers and some greenhab work rounded out
the majority of the day.

The weather was pretty typical today – bland skies and lots of cold. A
small amount of precipitation, but not much stuck. Still too little
data to draw conclusions about that. We shouldn’t see much snow at
these latitiudes. I mean we’re hardly equatorial, but we’re a ways
from the pole.. Maybe the wind currents are strong enough to scape
some ice off and carry it all the way down? *shrug* Jury’s still out
on that.

Speaking of the cold, our greenhab progress is.. slow. We suspect some
small leaks in the insulation that are causing the heating system to
overload and shut down until things are near freezing, then snap back
on full blast. Back and forth. We attempted to seal some of the gaps
we found, but one of our mission commanders back home told us to
postpone repairs. Not sure yet how that will affect our research.
Hopefully some lettuce can last a few light frosts.. On the other
hand, all germination attempts are going well. We’ve got red and green
oak lettuce, raddish, and some mysterious unlabelled seeds that we
found stowed away in the hab.. I’ll let the biologists talk about that
more though. I’ll just complain about the weather instead.

I guess I shouldn’t be complaining about snow, really. Some of the
crew came from dry desert areas on earth and have never had snow for
the holidays. Chrismas is coming up soon (we haven’t been here long
enough for the time difference to throw us off yet – the first Martian
Christmas will still be on Earth’s Dec 25.) We all brought small gifts
for a white elephant exchange and are trying to decide on a fancy meal
to celebrate. I’m sure we’ll think of something interesting. We’ve got
a creative group.

Despite minimal coffee intake (gotta save water, ya know?), a lot of
freeze dried food, rare showers, intermittent wifi, etc., crew morale
is holding strong. Personality is obviously a major concern in the
astronaut selection process – technical skills are a dime a dozen, but
teams that work well under stress are more difficult to find. I have
high hopes for the coming week. We all bring very different attributes
to the table, but ones that fit together and are greater than the sum
of their parts.

Of course, even with the crew getting along well, I’m still more than
happy to complain. A massage and a shower would really hit the spot.
It’s only been a few days, but those helmets are heavy and hard on the
shoulders and We’re building up some considerable stank. We don’t have
those ISS goon’s luxurious air filtering system or low gravity to keep
things cleanly. Maybe we should just take turns snapping the airlock
open for half a second each and freeze drying all the bacteria off of
us.. Super dangerous. Not doing that.. At least for another 3 days..