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MDRS Crew 139 Posts Final Mission Report

posted Apr 17, 2014, 7:53 PM by M Stoltz

The following is the final mission report of Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) Crew 139. A full review of this year's activities and research at MDRS will be presented at the 17th Annual International Mars Society Convention, to be held August 7-10, 2014 at the South Shore Harbor Resort in League City, Texas (outside Houston near NASA’s Johnson Space Center). 
 
Our crew had been preparing for months, and finally, the time had come. On Saturday, April 5th, we landed on Mars and gazed at the Mars Hab and the
gorgeous landscape it is surrounded by, for the first time. The crew, composed of Executive Officer Joshua MacFie, biologist Kelsey Compagnon, chemist Dylan Kirby, astronomer Kyle Flaherty, HSO and geologist Liz Painter, and myself, Commander Paulina Sidwell, set foot in the Hab on Saturday afternoon and began our mission.
 
We spent a few hours being briefed by crew 139, who did a fantastic job getting us up to speed and showing us what our duties and tasks would be for the following week. Having been here before, I was impressed by the clean state the Hab was in and the recent renovations that had been done. However, we also learned that we would be sharing the Hab with a family of Martian rodents that refused to vacate the facilities despite previous crews’ efforts. We said goodbye to the departing crew, and began our activities. As we settled in, the crew started feeling the excitement and anticipation of waking up Sunday in-sim.
 
Our mission had several components. Being a crew composed of students and faculty, we had objectives that needed to be achieved as a group, and objectives that were to be met individually. As a group, we wanted to keep the simulation as realistic as possible. We wanted to learn all about Martian ways and contribute to isolation and simulation studies. This meant working hard to continue the efforts of previous crews to keep the Hab in good shape, grow different plants in the GreenHab, and fill out accurate reports to help Mission Support keep up with what is happening in the Hab. Individually, the students in the crew had individual research projects in various fields, for which specific data needed to be collected to take back to Earth for further analysis.
 
The crew quickly got into its new routine. In the morning, one of the crew members would wake the crew up with music of their choosing, and we would have breakfast together. Then, we would have a short meeting and would split the crew into two groups. One group would go on EVA in the morning, and the other would repeat the EVA in the afternoon. While one group was gone, the other group would spend time in the Hab working on independent research, analyzing samples collected during EVAs, cooking, cleaning, or preparing for the upcoming EVA. The crew made it a point to have meals together, so at around 0500 hours, while some crew members tended to the GreenHab or engineering duties, crew members prepared dinner, which followed immediately after. At 0700 hours, CapComm window would open, and we all worked on reports and communicated issues or concerns with Mission Support. At 0900 hours, when CapComm window closed, we filled out Sim Logs for Dylan’s research, and we had a meeting about the how the day went, and what the plan for the following day would be. The crew typically decompressed at the end of the day by playing cards or other fun games. On nights when the sky cleared up, we headed to the observatory, where Kyle, our crew Astronomer, helped us see Jupiter, Polaris, Betelgeuse, the Moon, and other celestial bodies.
 
Although we had a set routine, every day was different from the one before. We faced challenges that tested our skills and knowledge. We faced changing weather, internet outages, Martian rodents, home-sickness, and even had a camera crew come and film MDRS on one of the days. These changes in our routine were faced with a great attitude and a spirit of adventure by everyone in the crew. We even caught about ten rodents!
 
Overall, the crew chemistry and teamwork could not have been better. The contributions of each of the crew members were vital to the success of our mission. We all helped each other whenever possible, and there was never a lack of volunteers to cook, clean, or lead in a particular task. We worked hard every day, but we had immense fun doing it. The GreeHab is looking better each day; we were able to find ways to work with the resources given to us; we remained healthy and safe; we had a great experience staying in-sim; crew members with individual research projects were able to collect the necessary data to continue their research back on Earth; we successfully completed all scheduled EVAs; all learning objectives of these EVAs were attained. It has been a privilege to lead this amazing group of individuals. We look forward to continuing our research back home, but hope to someday come back to MDRS. It has been an out-of-this-world experience for all of us.
 
Paulina Sidwell
Commander, Crew 139

The Rocky Road to Space Funding through Crowdsourcing

posted Mar 1, 2014, 12:57 PM by M Stoltz

By Brian Enke, Examiner.com, 02.26.14

The Mars Society has just announced an exciting new crowdsourcing initiative, giving space enthusiasts everywhere the opportunity to participate in an ambitious new mission. The international non-profit organization based in Lakewood hopes to raise $100,000 by April 21st to fund the next steps in their effort to conduct a one-year simulated Mars mission at their research station on Devon Island, high in the Canadian arctic.

While $100,000 seems a trivial amount of funding for a respected group like the Mars Society to raise through crowdsourcing, history reveals the outcome is anything but guaranteed. Sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo offer hit-and-miss results since they don’t provide any consistent or reliable way for a donor to quickly browse the list of available causes using intelligent filters - like space exploration, for example. As a result, most people on these sites (let alone the public at large) will never become aware of many crowdsourcing projects of great interest to them.

Conducting a one-year mission in the Canadian arctic requires courage and a healthy spirit of risk-taking seldom seen in the space community since the end of the Apollo era. Browsing the Mars Society’s Mars-365 mission plan, one can’t help but notice the many known dangers facing the crew.

To read the full article, please click here.

Year-long Mock Mars Mission Picks Semifinalists for Canadian Arctic Crew

posted Mar 1, 2014, 12:52 PM by M Stoltz

By Mike Wall, Space.com, 02.28.14

An ambitious simulated Mars mission that will take place over a full year in the Canadian Arctic has whittled its pool of potential crew members by two-thirds.

The nonprofit Mars Society has selected 62 semifinalists from a total of more than 200 applicants for its Mars Arctic 365 mission (MA365), which aims to help prepare humanity for a real manned Red Planet mission down the road.

"By conducting this full-scale dress rehearsal of a human expedition to Mars in a realistic habitat and environment for practically the same duration as an actual mission to the Red Planet, we will take a great step forward in learning how humans can work together to effectively explore the new frontier of Mars," Mars Society officials wrote in an update Wednesday (Feb. 26).

The group of 62 semifinalists — 49 men and 13 women from 17 different countries — will next be pared down to 18 finalists, who will be divided into three teams of six people each.

To read the full article, please click here.

The Year-Long Mission to Mars, On Earth, With Polar Bears

posted Feb 27, 2014, 2:52 PM by M Stoltz   [ updated Feb 27, 2014, 2:53 PM ]

By Ben Richmond, Mother Jones, 02.27.14 

Far off though it may seem, people are getting ready to live on Mars. The Mars One mission is selecting contestants for a one-way trip/reality show that is scheduled to launch in 2022. At the same time, the Mars Society is in the process of finding a six-person crew for their most ambitious mission yet: a year of living 800 miles from the North Pole in the Canadian Arctic, starting this August. 

Called Mars Arctic 365, or MA365 for short, the plan is to simulate a one-year Mars human surface exploration mission at the Mars Society’s Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station on Devon Island, an uninhabited polar desert island that's mimics Mars as well as almost anywhere. The island's biggest feature is a meteor crater, which gives the island a Mars-like geology; the temperatures "are comparable" to that of Mars and there's almost no vegetation, although polar bears do stop by from time to time, but they're pretty much the only visitors.

To read the full article, please click here.

CNN: See What It's Like to Live on Mars

posted Feb 14, 2014, 7:34 PM by M Stoltz   [ updated Feb 14, 2014, 7:35 PM ]


A CNN videographer recently visited the Mars Society's Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) in southern Utah to get a close-up look at the Mars simulation work being done on site by the organization and its crew members.

To watch the CNN segment about MDRS, please click here.

Mars-Simulation Mission Draws Ottawa Woman to Utah

posted Jan 5, 2014, 8:51 AM by M Stoltz

By Elizabeth Howell, CBC News, 01.05.14

Much was made last week about how parts of Canada were colder than on Mars.

One Ottawa woman is also getting a slightly higher-tech version of the Martian experience at a special building in Utah.

Elizabeth Howell is living at the Mars Desert Research Station for two weeks with seven other people, part of a project to see if humans could one day live on the Red Planet.

“A Mars mission is a large and expensive endeavor,” she said over the phone while en route Saturday.

“The best way we can try and cut down on the cost is to do as many of the things as possible on Earth, to see if it will work out in space before we actually get there.”

To read the full article, please click here.

[Image: J.Urquhart]

Mock Mars Mission: How Science on Earth Can Help Build Martian Colony

posted Dec 16, 2013, 6:09 AM by M Stoltz

By Elizabeth Howell, Space.com, 12.16.13

If a solar flare is on its way to the Mars Desert Research Station in January, Joseph Jessup wants to make sure Crew 133 is prepared to react if necessary. That's why he's driving from Arizona to the Mars Society facility in Utah with a radio telescope in the back of his car.

His portable telescope can not only detect solar particles at a range of 20 megahertz, but at night (after the sun has set) could be turned to Jupiter to spot electromagnetic radiation emanating from the immense planet.

Utah, of course, is safely underneath Earth's atmosphere, but the research would have applications for a future Mars colony. Mars has no appreciable magnetic field. This makes it easier for harmful solar particles to bleed through to the surface, putting colonists at a higher risk of cancer and other illnesses from radiation. [Gallery: Mock Mars Mission in the Arctic]

"It would have some applications for some kind of an early warning system on Mars," Jessup told SPACE.com.

To read the full article, please click here.

Mock Mission to Mars: A Space Reporter's Guide

posted Dec 10, 2013, 8:19 PM by M Stoltz

By Elizabeth Howell, Space.com, 12.10.13

OTTAWA, Canada – As a Canadian, I'm supposed to be used to extremes. I've commuted across the city many times in snowstorms, skated on an outdoor canal in blistering cold and played soccer in the humid soup of 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius).

So why do I feel so intimidated as I stare at the packing list for the two-week Mars Society mission I'm going to be on? I'm used to fluctuating temperatures, dressing in layers and even a bit of camping. As I go down the list — hiking boots, sleeping bag, pillow, possibly a Swiss Army knife — I realize it's not so much the stuff itself that worries me, but getting it across the continent to Utah in a month's time.

Overlaid with the trepidation, however, is a large degree of excitement. I've wanted to take part in the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) since it came into existence more than a decade ago. Now, as a Ph.D. student at the University of North Dakota (UND) as well as a full-time journalist, I'm finally getting the chance. And I know that all of Crew 133 is similarly excited to get started.

To read the full article, please click here.

French Mars Society Conducts Successful Artificial Gravity Demonstration

posted Oct 22, 2013, 5:26 PM by Michael Stoltz   [ updated Oct 23, 2013, 8:16 PM ]

Association Planète Mars (APM), the Mars Society’s French chapter, announced last week that it had successfully conducted an artificial gravity test during a parabolic flight. According to Richard Heidmann, APM chapter vice president, "We were able to demonstrate an artificial gravity system during a flight of a zero-gravity (zero-g) airplane from Novespace in the skies over Bourdeaux (France) on October 9th."

The experiment had been proposed two years ago by APM to engineering students from Ecole Centrale de Lille. The project was sponsored by APM and CNES, the French space agency, which selected it as part of the framework of its annual student zero-g flight program. CNES provided funding for the flight demonstration and technical and operational support to participating students. Also involved were French school teachers and Novespace representatives.

“This zero-g demonstration is a great success for humans-to-Mars planning, our French chapter and the Mars Society as a whole. It's definitely an important step in developing a plausible means of transporting humans to the Red Planet in the near future,” said Mars Society President Dr. Robert Zubrin.

Enclosed are comments by Richard Heidmann on technical aspects of the artificial gravity system:

“The project design allowed the use of electric power rather than propellants to deploy the composite. A bearable initial rotation is given to the composite, which is then overstretched under the free action of centrifuge; then, a rather reduced supplemental impulsive rotation is given to the two linked mobiles; and finally an electric motor reduces the length of the tether until the desired g-level is obtained.

It was too complicated to represent the whole sequence, as we considered not realistic in the frame of this project to equip the mobiles with thrusters and attitude control. But the second part of the scenario, beginning with the start of retraction, seemed achievable. The main difficulty was to design a launching and releasing system which, while giving the good rotational speed, imparts as little as possible perturbations at release. Another problem was the quite reduced

space allocated to the experiment in the plane, which put undesirable constraints on the dimensioning (this explains why the mobiles look over-sized with respect to their separation). But, nevertheless, it was still possible to have representative accelerations and to observe the dynamics of the process.

Releases were performed on 20 parabolas (for a total of 30), with movies captured from several different cameras (including from Novespace and APM) and acceleration measurements recorded aboard one of the mobiles. This data is presently under scrutiny by the students.”

Participating students will give a presentation of their work during the 13th European Mars Society Convention, scheduled for October 25-27 in Ivry-sur-Seine (Paris).

The idea of undertaking a small-scale demonstration of an artificial gravity system was originally proposed to the Mars Society by Tom Hill, a member of the organization’s Maryland chapter, under the title of the TEMPO3 mission. It was embraced by the Mars Society in 2008 as the winning entry in its “Mars Project Challenge” contest.  Following work done by a team led by Mr. Hill in 2009, the project was adopted by APM in 2010.

[Images: APM, Mars Society]

Expert: People Can be on Mars in 10 Years

posted Oct 22, 2013, 2:15 PM by Michael Stoltz   [ updated Oct 22, 2013, 2:15 PM ]

By RIA Science, 10.20.13

Nuclear engineer Robert Zubrin has devoted himself to Mars - he has developed a technology Mars Direct, an economical manned Mars mission and created the Mars Society, which is engaged in the popularization of Mars exploration, as well as conducting experiments on two "Martian" stations in the U.S. and Canada. 

He is very confident that humanity is fully capable of only 10 years to organize a manned mission to Mars, using only existing technologies and does everything to convince the government and the business that he's right. 

Zubrin arrived in Russia to attend a conference at Moscow State University, dedicated to Vernadsky. He visited the project "Mars Terraforming" at the Exhibition Centre and will also speak at the Skolkovo Institute. In an interview with RIA Novosti, Zubrin said he sees the "Martian" future of humanity.

To read the entire article, please click here.

[Image: RIA Science]

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