2016-12-24

MDRS Mission, Sol 5

Here are the science updates, sol records, and journalist post from the team at the Hab on the fifth sol of their mission. Check out Facebook for posts including the photos from each day.


 

Journalist’s Report – Sol 5

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, radish, 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. Christmas 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.. Ha.

#KeepMarsWeird

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Science Log – Sol 5

Greenhab
We are afraid the plants in the GreenHab may die. The temperatures are just not favorable for plant growth.  The GreenHab is too hot during sunny days and too cold while the sun is obscured. The GreenHab is not sealed well enough to stabilize the inside temperature. Almost all of the plastic located inside of the GreenHab has noticeable heat deformation making several of the items unusable. Also, the seeds that were stored out there are not viable. The seeds that we brought with us have germinated but no growth is being seen from those supplied through MDRS, likely due to the heat they were stored in. The heater is severely undersized to keep up with the thermally inefficient GreenHab structure. Radish, lettuces and mystery crop are germinating very well in the crew quarters.

Geology, Connor Lynch – Crew Geologist/Astrophysicist
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.


Daily Sol Summary – Sol 5

SOL: 05
Person filling out Report: Anselm Wiercioch, XO
Summary Title: Week One Nearly Complete
Mission Status: Research moving along, but slowly.
Sol Activity Summary: Second EVA to dinosaur quarry, minor greenhab concerns
Look Ahead Plan: Christmas is coming up!
Anomalies in work: None
Weather: High 37F, Low 31F, wind avg 3mph, gust 4.5mph, precip 0.04″, grey cloudy skies
Crew Physical Status: Active. Full crew functional.
EVA: Crew B to dinosaur quarry
Reports to be filed:
– Sol Summary
– Journalist’s Report
– Science Reports
– 6-8 Photos
– EVA Plan
– Operations Report
Support Requested: None

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