Journalist Report – May 21st

Journalist Report 21 May 2017

Prepared by Juan Jose Garcia

Images courtesy of Janet and Juan

Sol 8

Janet is the inventor of Tuna melt quesadillas on Mars. So we’ve named a mountain range after her in homage.

The morning EVA was an adventure to a spectacular area called Galileo Road according to the crew that went. So spectacular, that Avishek was invested in going back for his final EVA this afternoon.

The inside of the GreenHAB was 188° Fahrenheit. I immediately rushed to tell the crew, where several of us rushed into the GreenHAB to experience the surface of Mars without a space suit. Janet, Cassie, and I turned it into an artist sauna. 188° feels like a pressing yet comfortable heat. It makes one feel sleepy. One could fall asleep and stay asleep permanently in the GreenHAB. One is slowly roasted in the soothing warmth of the concentrated desert sun.

We have rescheduled the evening EVA because a riveting thunderstorm rolled up on the HAB leaving muddy ground not apt for astronaut ATV rides. The sky was invaded by dark gray clouds. The mountains vanished vanished from the sky. The back airlock door became nearly impossible to open with the winds. We certainly became concerned, if Charlie rushes out concerned, then we take the trouble seriously.  The wind pummeled the East side of the HAB, where a panel started making a horrible noise because it had become loose. The tunnels and observatory dome swayed in the wind. The weather is back and forth today, beautiful morning, cloudy 188° in the GreenHAB weather at midday, followed by thunderstorm and howling winds, and now we’re back to beautiful skies in the evening.

The meat of the day was in a 6-hour long marathon of the land building game CATAN. It’s essentially monopoly and Risk combined, but better than both. So invigorating was the game that as soon as we ended the first one, we immediately started a new one. Charlie won both times. After the first game, an alliance was formed between Janet, Cassie and myself to put an end to his tyrannical expansion. At a decisive moment in the game, Cassie laid down roads in a key location on the game board, forever more after that moment the history of the game was split into pre-Cassie and post-Cassie’s colonization.

Janet is the expert on Musk observatory domes on the entire planet. She has been troubleshooting the telescope for days now, with the help of Dave from ground control. Charlie has been troubleshooting the water heater with the greatest effort as well. Fortunately, he did have the pleasure of winning two games of CATAN in a row.

Crew Photos – May 21st

A riveting game of CATAN


Avishek and the sunrise


Avishek in the airlock


Avishek on an ATV


Cassie catching some internet

Crew Photos – May 20th

A starry night by Cassie


An artist and a scientist


Juan Plein Martian Air drawing


Juan’s drawing of Janet


Musk Observatory


Juan’s drawing of the Hab

Journalist Report – May 20th

Journalist Report 20 May 2017

Prepared by Janet Biggs, Crew Co-Journalist

Sol 7

Last night, we had clear skies and not too much wind.  I was eager to get out in the Musk Observatory.  A two-star alignment is needed to orient the telescope.  Charlie joined me and we opened the dome, set up for the first star alignment, and began rotating the dome into position … when the battery died.  As planetary luck would have it, the battery Charlie and I swapped in yesterday also died.  Hope to get it working as there are supposed to be clear skies again tonight!

We were all up pretty late last night, Cassie taking photos with her 4 x 5 camera, Juan projecting cool shapes and patterns onto the Hab, and even Avishek fought his jet lag and stayed up working on a new Green Hab design that will have a section simulating Mar’s atmosphere.

I woke up super early to contact Astronomy Support since we had run out of our internet data allotment last night.  I decided to stay up since I was scheduled for the morning EVA at 8 am.  8 came and went and no sign movement … not even a mousetranaut or killer Martian moth.  We all have the same alarm tone on our phones, which has caused morning chaos and confusion.  Not this morning.  All alarms were ringing, and no one was waking.

We finally got out the airlock around 9am.  Juan, Avishek, and I were on EVA.  Juan has been making beautiful drawings in his sketch book.  I asked if I could film him drawing out in the Martian landscape.  We struck off for a hill behind the Hab with a good view.  Juan and Avishek climbed the hill and Juan settled in to draw.  Avishek assisted him, taping down the paper when the Martian winds picked up.  Plein Martian air drawing!  I once watched an artist paint in the Arctic with snow and sleet falling and now I’ve watched someone draw in a full spacesuit on Mars.  Art exists everywhere!

Juan was still working on his drawing when I finished filming. I found a hill of my own and sat down to wait.  Even with less gravity here on Mars, our air-circulating packs can feel pretty heavy and the Martian sun is hot.  I was singing a medley of Bowie songs to myself (as I mentioned, no one can hear you inside a helmet) starting with Major Tom, Heroes, and of course Life on Mars.  David Bowie was truly a man who fell to Earth … probably from Mars.  Once back at the Hab, Juan showed me the drawing of our station he had made and also a little drawing of me sitting on Mars, singing in my helmet.  They are delicate gems, produce on Mars.

We may be out of Red Lobster cheese biscuits, but we have mastered rehydrated grilled cheese sandwiches!!!  After lunch, the winds picked up and the game of Catan came out again.  Our crew’s true colors are coming out.  Mars may not have oceans, but sharks … all of them!  Especially our commander!

Tonight’s EVA is Cassie, Avishek, and Juan, heading to White Moon by ATV.  Charlie is trying his hand at rehydrated meatballs on spaghetti … and I’m taking a shower!!!!


Daily Summary – May 20th

Crew 181 Daily Summary Report

May 20th, 2017


MDRS Daily Summary Report for SOL 7


Summary Title: Third Quarter Effect in Full Effect

Mission Status: Now that all crew members are accustomed to one another, we are feeling the third-quarter effect and getting antsy for upcoming days.

Sol Activity Summary: After a late night at the observatory, only one crew member woke up in time for the scheduled morning EVA. Therefore, the EVA start time was pushed by one hour. Regardless, it was successful for everyone a part of it. Cassandra made breakfast (French toast) for everyone. Janet and Charlie continued to troubleshoot the observatory (with much success).

With the loss of honorary crew member Olly and the stressful events of this upcoming week, we seem to know each other well enough now to realize when idiosyncrasies are driving us crazy. Just a few days ago, the second floor of the Hab seemed like the place to hang out. Now people have settled in different areas – the first floor, the science lab – to work on their individual projects. We will try to work together to gain back some of our crew collaboration time. I hope this isn’t the first signs of the third quarter effect. We are only to the half way mark!

Afternoon was filled with writing, photo editing, and Settlers of Catan. Evening EVA was great in the sunset light, making the landscape a greater saturation of reds than we thought possible. We are now all settling in, the smell of Janet and Charlie’s dinner permeating the second floor.

Look Ahead Plan: More observatory work is in the talks. We are submitting an EVA request for tomorrow. We are gearing up (slowly) for our Martian shipment of Ozzy and Jack Osbourne on Monday (we may be out of sim for the day and reports may be coming in late.) We are also disheartened by Avishek having to leave the mission early to return back to PhD work on Earth (also on Monday.)

Anomalies In Work: None at the current time.

Weather: Bright, sunny, lower than average temperature.

Crew Physical Status: Everyone is okay.

EVA: One EVA took place around the Hab, the other took place at White Moon.

Reports to be Filed: journalist report, engineering report, EVA report, and EVA request.

Support Requested: None at the current time.


Prepared by Cassandra



Cassandra Klos

Commander, Crew 181

Daily Summary – May 19th

Crew 181 Daily Summary Report

May 19th, 2017

MDRS Daily Summary Report for SOL 6


Summary Title: Foggy Helmets and Ideal Hab

Mission Status: Tiring EVA and Chana Masala

Sol Activity Summary: We were off to a rough start when our early morning EVA yielded less than spectacular results due to foggy helmets (see EVA report). This led me to be a very grumpy commander (and it didn’t help that we stayed up way too late watching A Close Encounter of a Third Kind, resulting on a lack of sleep.) Some of the EVA crew then had their breakfast routine, others went back to bed.

Lunch was prepared by Juan, a simple mac ‘n cheese and peas. After lunch, we had an interesting discussion about what would make up the ideal Hab on Mars. Some things were simple to remark – helmets that don’t fog, working radio comms, better lighting in the science lab, enclosed tunnel system. Others were interesting and quirky – the Hab should have a glue gun, ideally an art exhibition space/gallery, a beehive in the GreenHab… an unlimited supply of Red Lobster cheddar biscuits.

Janet and Charlie worked together to troubleshoot a mechanism on the observatory rotating roof. They are happy to say that it is now functional! Evening EVA was great, no foggy helmets (well, at least not as bad) and Janet, Cassandra, and Olly all got to work on their projects.

Look Ahead Plan: If the weather cooperates, Janet will be using the observatory tonight and everyone else will want a chance to look into the telescope (although Janet will be the only one working it.) We are sad to be saying goodbye to Olly tonight. We are submitting an EVA request for tomorrow.

 Anomalies In Work: None at the current time.

 Weather: Partly cloudy, lower than average temperature.

 Crew Physical Status: All in good spirits.

 EVA: Both EVAs today were conducted around the Hab.

 Reports to be Filed: journalist report, engineering report, EVA report, and EVA request.

 Support Requested: None at the current time.

Prepared by Cassandra


Cassandra Klos

Commander, Crew 181

Crew Photos – May 19th

A birthday wish from Mars


Astronaut with tripod


Dueling cameras with Cassie and Olly


Olly with solar panels


This is what an artist crew packs for Mars


Waiting for sunrise

Journalist Report – May 19th

Journalist Report 19 May 2017

Prepared by Janet Biggs, Crew Co-Journalist

Sol 6

Cassie, Olly, Charlie, and I all woke up at the crack of dawn to catch the sun rise on EVA.  We were suited up and out the airlock by 6 am.  The light was incredible, and for a few short minutes we all basked in the first glow of the sun.  Cameras out and running, the sun made its appearance over the Martian horizon to great fanfare.  And then it all went dark … well, not really dark, but cloudy.  Between the cool temperature outside (which was perfect for Charlie’s thermal imager), and us moving about, our breath caused intense condensation inside the helmets.  For all intents and purposes, we were blind.  If someone moved more than 5 to 10 feet away from you, even in our bright orange spacesuits, they would vanish from sight.  We all valiantly kept filming and shooting, just pointing our cameras in different directions, hoping another crewmember or a stunning view was out there.  Lucky for us, the Martian landscape presents a wealth of stunning views, so we all came back with at least a couple good shots.

The early rise was especially hard as we’ve been enjoying movies at night.  Last night was Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind … none of us remember it being quite that long.  Post-EVA, Cassie and I crept back into our staterooms for a little more shut eye, leaving Charlie and Olly to solve the problems of the worlds, our new one and the one we left behind on Earth.

Once everyone was up and moving (for the second time, for some of us) we settled into our projects while Juan wrestled up something in the kitchen (after wrestling yet another massive Martian bug in his stateroom!)  We have found winged extraterrestrials that like to dwell in our staterooms.  We also discovered that we had some stowaways on our spaceship.  Our fellow mousetranauts took up residence in the Hab alongside us, but eventually (with a bit of convincing from crew 181) have moved on to settle a new Mousetian colony of their own.

Before lunch, the Hab filled with the smell of cut wood … and then the smell of burning wood.  Avishek was constructing a model.  Unfortunately, many of the tools here at the Hab are showing their end of the season usage and burn through the wood rather than cut it.

After lunch (from Juan … mac and cheese, rehydrated peas) we participated in one of Avishek’s projects.  He’s interested in designing an ideal Martian habitat.  We were all too willing to contribute ideas, everything from sound proofing insulation between the staterooms and gray water recycling systems, to goats and a swimming pool. 

I’ve been dying to use the observatory!  It was no easy feat to pass the test required to become crew Astronomer so I now want to flex my astronomy muscles.  It’s been so windy and cloudy that I haven’t been able to try any viewing and imaging.  Yesterday, during a calm moment, I went out to familiarize myself with the observatory.  I opened the top of the observatory, which slides open to reveal the sky, and then tried the rotating mechanism.  It clicked and clicked, but no movement.  I restarted the power and tried again, still to no avail.  I emailed Peter, my astronomy ground support back on earth.  He thought it sounded like a dead battery.  Charlie brought the voltage checker out and after checking voltage and consideration of the two replacement batteries that were both low, we swapped the stronger one in and let it charge for a bit.  We now have a rotating dome!  Now we just need a clear, calm night.

Avishek, Cassie, and I had an interesting discussion about the relationship between art and science and interdisciplinary approaches to space as well as to problem solving in general.  Avishek is creative and worries that a life in the sciences will not fulfill him the way a life in the arts might.  He wants to find a way to combine both the left and right sides of his brain.  Cassie and I talked about personal rewards and the freedom art gives you, the ability to pursue, really, whatever you want.  Both of us accept our role of being outsiders or witnesses, but strongly appreciate opportunities like MDRS where we are active participants and can engage in differing methods of research and implementation.

This evenings EVA was an all artist event.  We were on foot and willing models for each other.  Very productive for all.  Sadly, our honorary crew member, Olly will be leaving us, heading back to the UK (which is a long journey from Mars).  We look forward to keeping in touch with him upon his return to Earth … in about seven months.

Crew Photos – May 18th

Charlie sporting the new patch


Commander Cassie greating us in the airlock


Leaving the Hab on EVA


Light going down on EVA


Reading and writing in the Hab


Walking to URH South Side

Journalist Report – May 18th

Journalist Report 16 May 2017

Prepared by Janet Biggs, Crew Co-Journalist

Sol 5


After our pep talk from Dr. Shannon and our own crew heart to heart yesterday, we woke up with a renewed sense of purpose … and then settled into our usual spots around the Hab living quarters to read and write (perhaps a bit deflated when we discovered that there are no more Red Lobster biscuits).  While we are all completely committed to our individual projects, it is hard not to feel like you’re waiting for the next EVA.  The EVAs are so extraordinary and incredible!  But for now, there’s are pancakes!!!

Ok, pancakes are gone so back to what I was saying … We’ve been talking about the trajectory of our mission, what we want to accomplish, and also about the third quarter effect.  Applicable to sports games, academia, marriage, and even Mars, you come in bursting with enthusiasm and then about two thirds of the way through it starts to feel like work.  Happily, we are nowhere close to the third quarter yet so we are enjoying our Martian honeymoon. 

Because our crew is heavy on the arts, ground support is allowing us to schedule two EVAs today so we get more time out in the Martian landscape to film, shoot, and draw.  But for now, we are over the moon as we just received our mission patches!!!  We have had temporary patches until now.  It seems that there was a manufacturing delay on earth, and then the time to travel to Mars (Mars seems to be a new delivery destination for UPS), but they’re here and they’re super cool!  

More pancakes … got to go!

OK, back.  Our morning EVA was Cassie, Juan, and Avishek.  They struck off on foot at 11:00 for URC South Site.   The EVA was scheduled until 12:30.   By the time they got back, they were soaked and exhausted. Inside the spacesuits, Mars was hot today!  After lots of hydration and lunch all three EVA crewmembers tucked into their staterooms for naps.

Before she crashed, Cassie showed us some images of the University Rover Competition that’s held here at MRDS and run by the Mars Society.  Teams from all over the world put their rover designs through their paces, including obstacle courses and bringing tools to an astronaut, to picking up a fuel can and refilling another rover.  Some crashed and burned (literally), but most rolled to the challenge.  The designs and

We have a MRDS schedule posted that shows EVA times and our chores rotation (including days off which means a day with a shower!!!  Although still no hot water).  While half the crew slept, the rest of us, did dishes, swept, and mopped.  Martian dust gets into everything so you’ve got to keep on top of it.

We just got back from my first EVA on ATVs.  It is the most fun I’ve ever had … and serious research of course … but the most fun!!!  Just incredible to be in full suit (no one can hear you when you’re yelling YEAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH in shear joy) in this most beautiful Martian landscape, as the light changes and we turn from the sun.  A memory to hold forever!