Crew 235, Mars Desert Research Station
The following is the final summary report of Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) Crew 235.
At the start of our mission, nine strangers came together with different hopes and expectations, all with the same end goal – come together with other like-minded individuals within the education community and emerge with new skills or ideas. Amazingly, every step of our journey together built the outcome that would meet and exceed everyone’s expectations.
Many of the crew interactions and experiences have been recorded in the journal reports that have been submitted each day of the mission. This report will focus on the accomplishment of our mission goals, which included completing a microbiology experiment and geologic fieldwork for collection, comparison, and analysis.
For our microbiology experiment, crew prepared agar, which they used to grow the fungi and bacteria that were swabbed from different areas inside the Hab. After allowing the specimens to incubate for 3 days, crew sorted and categorized the agar to identify the locations that were swabbed. This was done in a blind categorization so both crew teams approached it through flexible problem solving. The first team used a matrix system for identification while the second team used process of elimination and benchmarks to identify the tested locations for each sample. Every crew member felt the microbiology experiment was a success in that it would be transferable to a K-12 classroom environment.
For our geologic fieldwork experience, crew members used a presentation about Mars geology by Dr Rupert as a spring board for identification of MDRS rock samples that represent the geology of Mars. We then used 3 EVAs over the next 3 days to collect rock samples we will use to create our MDRS-Mars rock collections. On the first EVAs, crew members traveled to Kissing Camels Ridge and followed the ridge to the west to collect petrified wood, which we were using as an analogous sample for the sulphur located on Mars. Crew members were delighted to find a diverse variety of samples, including a wide range of colors and textures. On the second EVAs, crew members traveled to Barainca Butte to collect lava, basalt, and granite samples. We were also able to collect gryphaea samples during this EVA as an added bonus!
The second stop for this EVA was near Zubrin’s head to collect sandstone blueberries from a blueberry nursery. This geologic phenomenon was one that continued to delight and amaze crew members. On the third set of EVAs, crew members traveled to Copernicus Overlook to see the big picture of MDRS geology. After the overlook, crews returned east on Brahe Hwy, looking for the glint of gypsum near Beige Moon. Every crew member was surprised and excited to see the glinting shine that covered the ground since it was not observable on the way to the overlook. Once gypsum was collected, crews continued on to Cowboy Corner to collect the sandstone samples that would complete their collections.
All crew members agree that each facet of our experience at MDRS contributed to a successful mission. In addition to completing our science goals, we were able to complete all of our Sim goals as well as our collaboration/networking and teambuilding goals. We are grateful for the opportunity to learn and grow in this once-in-a-lifetime experience. Our lives are changed for the better, and we are all eager to return to our classrooms to share our week of Sim on Mars. In addition, we will continue working with Dr Rupert to develop curriculum and materials that will allow MDRS to reach teachers far beyond the scope of the Spaceward Bound Utah program.