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Second Half of Mars 160 Mission Begins as Crew Arrives at FMARS

July 17, 2017 | Permalink

Continuing its leadership in high-level Mars analog research, the Mars Society is pleased to announce that the second half of its Mars 160 mission has officially begun with the arrival of a six-person crew this weekend at the organization’s Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station (FMARS), located on Devon Island in northern Canada.

Mars 160 is a unique two-part mission involving a sustained program of advanced field exploration and testing in Mars-like terrain, initially in a desert setting at the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah last year and now in an Arctic environment at FMARS, operating under many of the same constraints that human explorers on the Red Planet would face. The dual program is intended to carry out nearly identical field analog research in order to determine how mission location affects science return.

During its Canada-based simulation, the crew will carry out a wide variety of specific Mars-relevant research, focusing on areas such as geology, microbial and lichen ecology, science field protocols and small group function in isolated environment research.

Located on the rim of an approximately 40-million year old impact crater in a truly Mars-like arctic environment, FMARS will serve as home to a multi-national crew of six veteran researchers and science professionals:

  • Alexandre Mangeot (France) – Crew Commander and Engineer
  • Yusuke Murakami (Japan) – Executive Officer
  • Jonathan Clarke (Australia) – Crew Geologist
  • Anastasiya Stepanova (Russia) – Crew Journalist and Health & Safety Officer
  • Anushree Srivastava (India) – Crew Biologist
  • Paul Knightly (U.S.) – Crew Geologist and Field Operations Manager

The mission’s second phase is being coordinated by two principal investigators: Dr. Shannon Rupert, Director of the Mars Desert Research Station program, and Paul Sokoloff, Senior Researcher at the Canadian Museum of Nature.

“Mars 160 is a unique mission that combines and compares both desert and Arctic Mars analogs as field test environments for Mars mission operations research. The Mars Society has opened up this vital field of research, which is now expanding worldwide. With this mission by an outstanding crew drawn from four continents, we will advance it substantially. On to Mars,” said Mars Society President Dr. Robert Zubrin.

For daily updates and photos about the Mars 160 mission, please visit our Mars Society web site ( Also a full review of the Mars 160 mission will be presented at the 20th Annual International Mars Society Convention, scheduled for September 7-10 at the University of California Irvine.

Final Report of Jon Clarke

December 19, 2016 | Permalink

Jon Clarke – Mars 160 phase one final words

As the first half of the expedition ends I look back on what we have achieved here look forward to we aim to achieve at FMARS. Looking back, from my perspective, the missions has been a great success. We have collected significant new data on the geology and geomorphology of the area that should lead to publishable results. Similarly we have collected a lot of data on the operational aspects that will help us better understand the capabilities of analogue field exploration. The context of what we aim to do at the two stations lies at the heart of the twin mission concept, the similarities and differences between the two stations and their settings and the work done at each.

Both stations are similar design, differing mainly in details. Both stations both are located in arid environments which have many Mars analogue features. The focus of both halves of the mission is on operations, carrying out exploration and field science under operational constraints similar to those which would exist on Mars missions. These include working while wearing simulated space suits, limited facilities and resources, restricted, asynchronous communications, similar core station structure, almost identical crew and leadership, and executing extensive and multi-disciplinary field research over many months.

The differences arise from the contrasting settings. MDRS is located in a mostly hot desert, FMARS in a cold desert (although it must be recognised that the MDRS field area is subjected to frost for at least 160 days of the year). The geology at MDRS consists of Jurassic and Cretaceous non-marine to marine clastic sediments, that of FMARS of Ordovician to Silurian marine carbonates. FMARS is underlain, like the Martian surface, by permafrost, absent from MDRS. The prime feature of FMARS is that it is located on the rim of the Haughton impact crater. Impact processes are important factors on the surface of Mars and FMARS is in a unique location where such processes are overprinted by permafrost.

Other differences exist in the human context of the two expeditions. We expect the facility at FMARS to be more basic, more isolated and more confined than MDRS, with far less interactions with mission support. In this regard it will be a sterner test of the crew. Consequences of any problems will be potentially much more severe for the individual, the crew, and the mission. However during the first phase of the mission the crew has shown itself capable of working together as a caring and bonded team, with few disagreements, and I expect this to be an asset for the much more severe conditions of the Arctic.

Looking forward to the Arctic I would expect a stronger emphasis on the geological aspects of the research because of the presence of two experienced geologists on the crew instead of one. This would be both in the area of specific research and research in support of the biological objectives.

Final Report of Claude-Michel Laroche

December 19, 2016 | Permalink

Claude-Michel Laroche – Mars 160 first phase last words

For me, this mission was important, when trying to put my thought together to think about what this mission means to me, I was a little conflicted. This mission is very dear to me, that is for sure, at the same time I am also happy it is coming to an end, and will miss it.

My role for this mission was to take care of the systems of the MDRS complex and to manage the Smart Pot project from the inside. The Smart Pot project was by far the most satisfying, frustrating, and rewarding project I had to work on. Satisfying because seeing the plants growing everyday gave me the feeling that what we were doing was working and worth doing. This project was for us about verifying the technology, to make sure it was working, but our reward was the plants themselves, the fruit they bear and what we saw grow from our hands and work, and what ended up in our plate at the end of the mission. It was frustrating because we faced difficulties in growing plants and some of them did not survive the process and our care.

My days were without rest. I got out of my comfort zone, several times, as everyone in the crew did, I won’t say it was easy, but nothing worth doing is easy. No matter how hard we worked together or individually on our things, we were always a unified crew and that is nothing I ever had before.

I will not be part of the second half of the mission in the Arctic and I wish the best for all my crew mates and will support them remotely as best as I can, like I tried to do on this half of the mission.

Final Report of Anushree Srivastava

December 19, 2016 | Permalink

Anushree Srivastava – Mars 160 phase one final words

Mars 160 mission in the Utah Desert is towards its end. I think we have not just performed a Mars simulation but lived a life, a life which was entirely different from what we had been living. It is a bonding that we have created with our Hab and with each other. We became a family. We had our both stressful and funny moments like all families have, but I think somewhere, we all learned to be unconditional in our approaches to ensure the harmony inside our isolated Martian home. I was going to jot down things that I would miss, but I think, I am going to miss everything.

Being part of a long-term Mars simulation mission and living in an isolated condition is not easy. You tend to feel monotony sometimes or want to stay confined into your own world, but then your WORK reminds you the love you kept harbouring in your heart and you crossed all the boundaries to chase it, to achieve it. You remind yourself that you are working for a mission that not everyone has the opportunity to be part of. I think, to not to lose the perspective is the biggest challenge of a long term simulation mission. The most wonderful thing I found about our sojourn at MDRS is – we lived and grew beautifully. It is simple to say and sounds idealistic, but we have done it.

I am coming back to MDRS as Crew Biologist and the Executive Officer of Crew 172. So, I will be carrying forward my Mars 160 science goals in the Utah desert for another fifteen sols. Mars160 mission is not over yet. Now, with the culmination of the first phase of this mission, there is a dawn of another phase, hope, and challenge – the Arctic. Our mission in the Arctic is going to be much more challenging, in terms of field science, safety and habitability. The first phase was a test of our efficiency as a crew and the patterns of mission operation, to prepare us for the practicalities and upcoming hardships of living in a true extreme environment of the Arctic. We were supposed to learn what worked and what not, in order to apply those lessons when we embark on the Arctic mission. I still remember that it was a ‘mission’ for me even to arrive at MDRS. I believe this tryst of me and my work is what kept me going through these 80 sols and will continue to do so for another 80 sols.

Final Report of Annalea Beattie

December 19, 2016 | Permalink

Annalea Beattie – Mars 160 first phase final words

At the end of this three months we have become explorers in this desert. This last quarter has been the greatest. Now we know each other well and we are really bonded together as a crew by our common goals for the Mars 160 mission. We want it to work and we are sure we can do it.

In terms of our crew working as a team, we know we have done well. We work together to share our experiences, our daily plans, our field trips, and any work that needs to be done around the Hab or sometimes we just hang about in an easy way. Even wearing the spacesuits provokes communal activity and shared understanding. Constructing roles during training and field trips strengthens our crew. We support one another through the different kinds of work we do and through the physicality of a simulation which requires our endurance.

Inside it’s much the same. We contribute to the way the Hab is run, and there is a continual and healthy balance between autonomy and obligation. It’s a respectful situation and we work hard to protect it. There is no substitute for working together and learning to speak the same language about how the mission proceeds. Alex, our Commander has done a fantastic job in managing diversity within our group. He is passionate and has so much stamina, always juggling between tasks and our different interests as crew members.

Framed by the science, a key part of my own research is to explore perspectives about what it means to do field drawing in the spacesuit when we arrive on the surface of Mars. Within the limitations of simulation, I’m focused on the field science and my goal is to create a set of tools, practices and protocols that support geologists to use their own observations and knowledge to understand where they are, through drawing and field notes.

All the results from my tests field drawing on science EVAs indicate that there is very little difference between field drawing in the space suit and field drawing out of the suit.

With the right materials, tools and protocols, extraterrestrial geologists, constrained by bulky heavy space suits, will be able to interpret and evaluate a site using field drawing, as well as improvise and respond to the unexpected, just like they do here on Earth. There is no reason why not. Understanding what this means will be my focus for next year’s research in the Arctic.


Final Report of Anastasiya Stepanova

December 19, 2016 | Permalink

Anastasiya Stepanova – Mars 160 phase one final words

What is 80 days for you? Is it a lot or too short for a space mission? Usually astronauts spend three months on International Space Station, therefore we passed already the time test. We did not go crazy from 80 days away from the Earth. Actually, in the first part of the Mars 160 mission we passed too many tests, some not planned at all, some confusing, challenging and some enjoyable. The first lesson learned – things will be as they are and not as you expected. You can draw positive or negative conclusion out of it, but just accepting the fact and dealing with it means you have already passed the test. The second lesson learned – there is no limits to human’s ability to adapt and keep on going, living and surviving. At the station we are surrounded by limitations all the time and instead of stressing out, we are liberated from Earth habits and try to like the new way of living. The third lesson learned – there is never enough of new skills and knowledge. I like the saying “the more we learn the more freedom we have”. The knowledge is a powerful tool to overcome any critical situation, to deal with problems, to help and to create. These are the three pillars of knowledge on which my Mars160 experience is built.

Every day was filled with various activities from cooking to dissolving gypsum samples and waiting for microorganisms to grow. The busy schedule kept the crew in healthy psychological environment and in good brain shape. I guess the amount of work and new bridges to cross were the reason I did not miss Earth as much as it would be expected. Not even once, I was sad and lonely. Not even once, I wanted to give up and run away. Not even once, I regret changing my life in order to be on this unique mission.

The day has come. “Welcome back to Earth” – said Shannon on the radio, the Director of MDRS and Principal Investigator of our mission. For a few seconds I stopped in time, looked from aside to this sudden new world. Or, better to say, an old world but with new me. I will miss the silence and tranquility of isolation from the outside world, the breathtaking view of the desert, the beautiful and cold nights, the wit jokes, the friendship and crew bonding, the everyday learning, the life on Earthy Mars. Is it the end? No, it is just the beginning!

Final Report of Commander Alexandre Mangeot

December 19, 2016 | Permalink

Alexandre Mangeot – Mars 160 phase one final words

For me, the mission started a while ago. One year and half ago actually. At that time the roles were unclear. But the time passing, my role shifted few times before being assigned as Commander. It is a strange feeling to have desired this position for so long and them boom this is happening. And while you are still dreaming you just see the bright side without worrying too much about the responsibilities. But soon enough you realize the duty that now is yours and just hope for that everything will be fine.

I never thought that my presence in the Crew would be worth if I just come without any project. I thought it was expected from me to assume my role of commander and still conducted personal projects. And projects, I had plenty. So I took one (actually I started with four different technological projects), an ambitious one, and I worked on it during 6 months before the actual mission even started. But over here my prime duty is not to make my own personal project working. My prime duty is to make sure that everyone works toward the same goal. That may sound easy, but it is not. It requires a lot of attention and dedication. On a seven people crew you cannot count on the inertia of a massive crew, so you have to be careful of every detail. This was demanding. Especially because I spent 6 months designing my spacesuit interface and nothing was working how it was supposed to; but despite that I had to stay focus on the crew dynamic rather on my project. It is hard to have sacrificed a lot of personal time for a project and not being able to give proper attention when it is supposed to work. But at the end of mission while I was discussing with mission Director Shannon Rupert I could have come without a project to conduct because Commander is a full time job. So for the Arctic, I do not intend to come back without project but I must make sure that it will not require too much time so I can fully focus on my responsibilities.

For the mechanical engineer and hybrid rocket scientist that I am, starting a project that aims to develop a spacesuit user interface is challenging in more than one way. Learning everything that needs to be learnt in electronics and software development in order to design something that works (somewhat) in a 6 months timeline is far from being easy and without pitfall. But I also had to manage my budget and the logistics of all the components. So quite obviously, I made decisions in the development process that turned out to give me so much hard time during the mission attempting to make the hardware or/and the software working. I was not anticipating that because I am too optimistic – the proof is that I brought enough material to make 4 interfaces. So during my little despairs I was preparing for the worse: nothing will be working by the end of the mission. Hopefully, there were enough small victories here and there to keep the motivation alive and for pursuing the goal with the little time I could spare. It ends-up that the last EVA performed in Sim was dedicated to the ultimate test of the interface. I remember that I delayed this EVA by one hour because all my checklist board was not all green. I was torn by the fact that I was messing with the schedule. But I also remembered that you do not launch a rocket if someone says “no go”. And this was the best decision. Because now I can be very happy to announce that during this EVA everything behaved like it was supposed to be. I have the navigation data, the temperature and humidity inside and outside the helmet, the ambient atmospheric pressure, the light measurements from infrared to ultraviolet, the battery voltage, and even my heartbeat rate! Yes, for those who read my SSUIt project entries, the SPI line was operational on this EVA. So in addition of rewriting/reviewing 11 000 lines of code for the second version of the software, I was able to make progress and push a little bit further the features. So for the Arctic, I will have a much better hardware architecture thanks to the lessons I have learnt and an interface ready to go.


Facebook/NatGeo Launch Live 360 Video

December 13, 2016 | Permalink

On Tuesday, December 13 at 12:00 pm PDT / 3:00 pm EDT, Facebook is launching Live 360 video with National Geographic, live from the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) facility in Utah. People around the world will be able to discover and explore this video on Facebook.

Over the past 80 days, seven space scientists from around the world have lived in pods simulating every aspect of life on Mars, including total isolation from humanity. As part of our global effort around MARS, National Geographic will be live on Facebook in 360 degrees as the scientists emerge from the pods. We will take you behind the scenes to explore the living quarters, see how the scientists suit up in their space suits, and take a rover out for a spin across the Martian landscape.

This first Live 360 will also include a Q&A with a line-up of science experts, writers and thinkers, and will take questions from the Facebook audience.

Watch it on Facebook

[Source: National Geographic]

Sol Summary – December 12th

December 12, 2016 | Permalink

Sol Summary Report (SSR):


Person filling out report: Annalea Beattie

Summary Title: Sol# 80 The Final Day of Our Simulation

Mission Status: on track

Sol Activity Summary:

We are preparing to leave the hab and packing for the Arctic but are still in simulation. Everyone tried to finish their own work. Today is the last chance for Yusuke to finish his 3D graphic. He is multi-tasking today as he is also helping Claude-Michel, going out with Alex on the EVA, and doing the GPS coordinates for lichen sampling with Anu. She is now mopping the lab and then she will work on her last lichen report.

Jon wrote lists for the Arctic and cleaned and mopped downstairs.

Alex is testing his suit interface out on a final EVA this afternoon. Claude-Michel received ipod touches from Heather Hava and is connecting them to the internet to monitor relationships between us and the plants. I cooked dinner, cleaned, washed and finished my last article for space. com and sent it off.  We all worked on the final report for the last quarter of the mission. Then we wrote to Polina. A final yoga today! Will we ever be this fit again? Through the round window we can see a crowd outside. Nat Geo setting up discs and cameras outside. Someone just furled the American flag.

Jon is very pleased as he has had a second paper on Mars analogue research  accepted for publication while he has been here. The first was with David Willson on the potential of the Coober Pedy area in South Australia to test water extraction from sulphate-rich regolith, the most recent second was with David Willson and Heather Smith proposing Meridiani Planum (the site of the Opportunity rover mission) as the location for the first crewed landing on Mars. David and Heather are both at NASA Ames Research Center and part of the Mars 160 support team.

See you in the Arctic.


Reports Submitted to CapCom:

  1.   Sol Summary- Annalea
  2.   Journalist – Anastasiya
  3. Pictures – Anastasiya.


MDRS lessons for today:

Struggle is important. Giving up is not an option. (Anu)


Plans for tomorrow:  Back to Earth! EVA, live 365 Facebook event, Nat Geo more NHK interview followed by more cleaning and packing.

Crew Status: We are great.

Weather: Not as cold!

Anomalies:  Dozens of people outside the hab is an anomaly!

Sol Journal – December 12th

December 12, 2016 | Permalink

The fascinating rocks

What do you imagine when hear the word “geology”? The search on the internet will show that “Geology is an earth science comprising the study of solid Earth, the rocks of which it is composed, and the processes by which they change. Geology can also refer generally to the study of the solid features of any celestial body (such as the geology of the Moon or Mars).”

In our mission Mars 160 we have an outstanding geologist Jon Clarke, whose partner in crime is microbiologist Anushree Srivastava. Together they represent geo-microbiology, which is the study of living and fossilized organisms and their interaction with the rocks. It is a perfect team for future Mars explorations. In order to know the sampling area for soil, gypsum, hypoliths, and lichens, the crew microbiologist seeks an advice from Jon Clarke. He is the one who can tell where to go to find sandstone, gypsum, fossils and other interesting and relevant rocks. He is the one who tell jokes and interesting phrases about the geology, such as:

Lichens is what stops me from seeing the rock

A dust is windblown regolith

Regolith is everything between fresh rock and fresh air

If you observe what crew geologist does on the EVA, you would think that this is some kind of sightseeing. Yes, Jon walks around with 75cm stick and a hammer (provides scale), climbs the hills and takes the pictures. Those actions all together are called “geological scouting”.  Sometimes the scouting is sufficient for the purpose, because Jon is building on knowledge gained on previous trips to the station. Other times the scouting leads to more detailed investigations of sites, sampling, and laboratory analysis of the collected material.

Jon’s main geological focus in this part of the expedition was two-fold.  Firstly, he was following up previous studies into the relationship between the ancient rivers that deposited the rocks that make the geological succession at MDRS and the modern landscape.  Secondly, he was collecting samples of the different types of clays in the succession for our other crew geologist, Paul Knightly who is currently at the University of Arkansas but who will join us in the Arctic, to determine their composition.  Jon was also supporting Anushree by characterizing the substrates that had been colonized by hypoliths and lichens and providing the broader geological context.

The Mars Desert Research Station environment allow us to explore and study geological and landscape features at a scale similar to those found on Mars. Geology is the key to understand the history of Mars, provides the context for the search for life, and is essential for the search for martian resources and determining safe places to build mars stations. Mission Mars 160 also provides a visually, topographically, and geologically realistic environment to test instruments, procedures and conduct operations to assist future mission.

Picture of the Day – December 12th

December 12, 2016 | Permalink

Only Martians allowed

Crew Photos – December 12th

December 12, 2016 | Permalink

Beautiful gypsum


Gypsum sampling


Happy microbiologist


MDRS and dome at night


The first salad on Mars will be cooked


Watching 3D pictures


You are needed on Mars in Russian

Sol Summary – December 11th

December 11, 2016 | Permalink

Sol Summary Report (SSR):


Person filling out report: Annalea Beattie

Summary Title: Sol #79 Le silence est d’or.

Mission Status: on track

Sol Activity Summary:

It’s the bare bones today as it’s a cleaning up day and there is nothing to say but that. Anu went to lab and assembled shelves with Yusuke and cleaned the lab. The two of them also worked downstairs and built new shelves for the smartpot plant project. They cleaned. Anastaysia and Alex also rearranged shelves in the greenhouse . Alex worked on his project the rest of the day with the ultimate field test tomorrow which should be very promising. To cut a long story short, the rest of us cleaned and cleaned.

Something wonderful did happen. We had a lovely dinner together. See Alex’s dinner report. And the sunset was magnificent. More cleaning excitement tomorrow!


Reports Submitted to CapCom:

  1.   Sol Summary- Annalea
  2.   Dinner Report- Alex
  3. Picture – Alex

MDRS lessons for today:

Le silence est d’or.

Plans for tomorrow:  More cleaning and packing.

Crew Status: We are great.

Weather: not as cold!

Anomalies: no.

Recipe for Spacey Antarctician Grilled Salmon with Salted Koji

December 11, 2016 | Permalink

Food Report for the 11nd of December 2016.


Spacey Antarctician Grilled Salmon with salted Koji -: (for 7 Space cadets or they Antarctic equivalent)

1 packet of Grilled Salmon with salted Koji (from Kyoku syoku) / person
1 packet of flavored Deep-Fried Eggplant (from Kyoku syoku) / person
2 Cup + (120 ml of water / person)
1 Cup of Rice / person

Note: Other recipe like this will come so please stay tune.

Step 1: Add 1 cup of rice with 2 cup of water in pressure cooker.

Step 2: Boil the 120 ml of water per person that is left left.

Step 3: Open both packets and get the inside bowl next to the plate.

Step 4: Serve the rice once it is ready

Step 5: Verse 50 ml of hot water in the Grilled Salmon with salted Koji container. Wait 1 minutes.

Step 6: Verse 70 ml of hot water in the flavored Deep-Fried Eggplant container. Wait 1 minute.

Step 7: Mixed the eggplants and the salmon along with the rice for a delicious meal.

Step 8: Enjoy.

Koji, or Aspergillus Oryzea, is a fungus, similar to yeast use in east Asian cuisine, used for making food like soy sauce, sake and shōchū.
The more you know.

This was the last time we had this type of meal for the desert portion of this mission. We were eager to have this meal and sad at the same time, knowing it would be our last time for almost half a year. This time we had a salmon recipe, not too unlike the first time, but very different, it was very delicious mixed in with rice and the eggplants.

Thank you and as always please try this at home.

Crew Photos – December 10th

December 10, 2016 | Permalink

Anushree on her last EVA




Microbiologist at work


Sanjerooni Butte


The Moon


Uncertain sunrise


Using the grid

Picture of the Day – December 10th

December 10, 2016 | Permalink

Rover and panels

Recipe for A Bed of Fried Rice

December 10, 2016 | Permalink

Food Report for the 10th of December 2016.

A bed for fried rice: (for people who are very affectionate for rice and want to build them a small bed. To make it more comfortable before eating it)

1 kg of brown Rice / 7 persons
Twice the volume of rice for the water.
Some oil to fry the rice

Meat pillow
2 can of SPAM / 7 persons
1 cup of dehydrated green beans
1 cup of dehydrated carrots
Some water to hydrate

Egg blanket
2 Eggs / persons
1 Cup of dehydrated cheese
Some water to hydrate

Note:  we had way too much food, so you can cut the portion a little, but make sure you still have enough eggs to cover the rice near the end, we still want the rice to be warm and cozy before we eat it.

Making the Rice.
Step MtR – 1 : Put all the rice and twice the volume of water in a pan.

Step MtR – 2 : Once the rice is cook add some oil at the bottom of the pan and fry the rice

Making the Meat Pillow
Step MtMP – 1 : Hydrate the vegetables, if you added too much water, purge the excess.

Step MtMP – 2 : Open the can of SPAM and cut the meat in small pieces.

Step MtMP – 3 : In a pan mix all the ingredients until the meat has a golden brown cover.

Making the Egg Blanket
Step MtEB – 1 : Hydrate the Cheese. (which ever you prefer, Cheddar and Colby are good choices here.)

Step MtEB – 2 : Prepare the eggs in a mixing bowl, if you have powder eggs get the right amount of eggs and water, if you use fresh eggs, just crack them open and mix them together.

Step MtEB – 3 : In a large pan put one portion of eggs and let it solidify. Don’t let it get too crispy, ideally you want the eggs to be solid but still yellow.

Step MtEB – 4 : Once the bottom of the egg omelet is solid enough turn it around to cook the top part.

Step MtEB – 5 : As the new bottom part of the eggs get cook add the hydrated cheese on top of the omelet and let it melt.

Step MtEB – 6 : Once you feel the whole omelet is cook, fold the omelet on top of itself, in a way that the cheese become a middle layer of the omelet.

Making the Plate Right
Step MtPR – 1 : To make the plate right, first you must put the rice in a upside down bowl shape on a plate.

Step MtPR – 2 : Put the meat pillow preparation and surround on third of the rice. Make it look like the rice is resting on the meat, like it was a pillow.

Step MtPR – 3 : Cover the opposite side of the rice to where the meat is with the omelet. The rick here is to lay the omelet on top on the rice like you would cover someone with a blanket. The cheese might run down, but that is fine.

Step MtPR – 4 : Serve it to all your guests, friends and family. Tell them all to be quit, the rice is probably sleeping..

Yusuke made this meal for us using an extra large quantity of food, to our pleasure. The mix of rice and  eggs was a first in this mission and the extra meat was very welcome. Another Yusuke experiment that was successful and delicious.

As always please try this at home. Very little supervision is require, and to eat. Please enjoy.

Sol Summary – December 10th

December 10, 2016 | Permalink

Sol Summary Report (SSR):


Person filling out report: Annalea Beattie

Summary Title: Sol #78 is a day of cleaning.

Mission Status: on track

Sol Activity Summary:

Cleaning up today. We began by cleaning upstairs and downstairs, packing up the shelves, cleaning inside and outside cupboards, moving the drier, tables, and gym equipment. We cleaned the kitchen and the EVA prep room so that they are spotless. Yusuke did the final food inventory which was pretty quick! Claude-Michel and Yusuke made Deimos the new electric rover compatible withe the backpacks by removing the upper sections of the seats. Anu cleaned up in the lab and we began to pack for the Arctic. Early night.

Reports Submitted to CapCom:

1. Sol Summary- Annalea

2. Food Report – Claude-Michel

4. Pictures – Anastasiya

4. Photos of the Day – yes

MDRS lessons for today:

L’ habit ne fait pas le moine.

Plans for tomorrow: More cleaning and packing.

Crew Status: We are united, happy and in fine physical and mental health.

Weather: very very chilly

Anomalies: no.

Crew Photos – December 9th

December 9, 2016 | Permalink

Anastasiya preparing the group IBMP test


Anushree on her last EVA


Japanese freeze dried food for dinner


Jon on his last EVA




Little Wild Horse Canyon


The Moon

EVA Narrative – December 9th

December 9, 2016 | Permalink

Here is an EVA narrative for the last EVA of the mission.


Jon Clarke


Sanjerooni Butte

Today we went on our last EVA.  Anushree, Alex and I took the Phobos Rover and a quad bike out to the north west to the area known as “The Moon”, above hab ridge and on the way to Skyline rim.  Alex wanted to carry out one last test of his astronaut user interface.   It was a crisp morning, puddles were frozen and the air was very still.  The temperature according to SUIt was one degree above zero.

Alexandre – walking on the Moon

It was a rather happy-sad experience.  It’s always good to be on EVA in such majestic surroundings.  But there are still features to see, things we could visit, but for which we have no more time.  The MDRS area is so diverse and complex that even after 12 weeks we have ony started to scratch the surface.  In fact, even though I have clocked up 20 weeks at MDRS  over the course of four crews, I have not seen it all.

Something for next time

We were able to enjoy the view from the lookout known as Widows Peak.  The view included Skyline Rim, Factory Butte, our old friends the Henry Mountains and the San Rafael Swell to the north.  I thought I could even see Wild Horse Mesa, which we drove past the other day on the way to Little Wild Horse Canyon.

Anushree contemplating the unknown

Low batteries in the SUIt and the rover forced us to end the EVA sooner than we would have liked.  On the way home we made one last stop to look at a magnificent cluster of orange lichen colonies, along with the more usual black lichens.  There were even some bright green ones, which are quite rare. Our next EVA will be in the Arctic where, ironically, it may not be as cold.  This is the Mars 160 EVA crew signing off – until next time!

There are always more lichens to study!

Sol Summary – December 9th

December 9, 2016 | Permalink

Sol Summary Report (SSR):


Person filling out report: Annalea Beattie

Summary Title: Still busy and our time here is running out

Mission Status: on track

Sol Activity Summary:

Alex, Jon and Anushree were on EVA today to the Moon  where Alex tested his spacesuit interface with mixed results. His battery ran out of power and he had to remove the helmet. Dammit. Afterwards Anu worked in the lab most of the day trying to plate halophiles but the salts wouldn’t dissolve! Jon reworked his time sheets.

Anastasiya wrote her Russian media articles and organised an IMBP Group Discussion as human factors research for us all after lunch. Yusuke helped Claude-Michel on the accuracy of the water meter and then worked on his human scale study and the lichen report but not the 3D model, no time. Claude-Michel wrote the final engineering report for this mission. I also wrote – for next week, some notes for the final Mars 160 report and to you . Yoga – but we were a bit tired after a solid day’s work . Gradually we are getting through all the jobs to do before the end of the mission next week.

Early night. Over and out.


Reports Submitted to CapCom:

  1.   Sol Summary- Annalea
  2.   EVA narrative- Jon
  3.   Time Lapse Dome Report- Yusuke
  4. Pictures – Anastasiya
  5. Photos of the Day – yes


MDRS lessons for today

As soon as you stop, its over.


Plans for tomorrow: Cleaning up

Crew Physical Status: Excellent

Weather: chilly

Anomalies: no

Picture of the Day – December 9th

December 9, 2016 | Permalink

Our heroic commander

Technology Report – December 8th

December 8, 2016 | Permalink


Jon Clarke

The twin rovers – Phobos and Deimos.

The twin rovers – Phobos and Deimos.


I have written before about the new electric rovers we have at MDRS.  They are Polaris Ranger two seat 4WD vehicles, which have been named Phobos and Deimos, after the two moons of Mars.  We have now had more experience with them and continue to be impressed.  They are able to traverse all the tracks in the primary field area and have sufficient range to do so.  Phobos has been fully modified to allow us to drive it while wearing simulated EVA suits.  We can even wear seat belts while we are in the rovers, a considerable safety advantage.  They are easy to operate, even by the most inexperienced.  As previously noted it has good load carry capacity. Because they are electric they can be recharged from the station’s 15 kw solar array, once this is fully connected.  Currently the science dome is run of the array, and soon we expect the rest of the station to be similarly connected, with a recharging kiosk for the two rovers.


Phobos and the new MDRS solar panels.  Rechargeable solar power!

Phobos and the new MDRS solar panels.  Rechargeable solar power!


Phobos and Deimos are terrestrial counterparts to the Apollo Lunar Roving Vehicle, used with great effect by the crews of Apollos  15, 16, and 17.  These vehicles allowed the astronauts on these missions to cover about 10 km of traverse on each of their EVAs on the moon, for a total of about 30 km per mission.


Apollo 17 Lunar Roving Vehicle (NASA).

Apollo 17 Lunar Roving Vehicle (NASA).


Currently only Phobos is modified for use while suited, so backup is provided by the conventional  quad bikes.  Deimos will be converted in the near future.  When both are converted, Deimos and Phobos together can provide effective mutual support for two or four person EVAs.  This will allow more effective simulation of surface operations with equivalent vehicles on Mars (or the Moon for that matter).


Phobos rover –some might call it cramped, I call it cozy and effective.

Phobos rover –some might call it cramped, I call it cozy and effective.


Astronauts on Mars will almost certainly use small unpressurised vehicles similar to Phobos and Deimos for working at relatively short distances from the station.  The exploration radius of sSingle vehicle EVAs will be constrained by the ability of the astronauts to walk back to the station in the event of the vehicle being immobilised.  During the Apollo missions this was conservatively estimated at 5 km.   Later, un-flown missions were expected to increase this distance to 10 or even 20 km.  On Mars the current expectation is a walk back distance of 15 km, although this may be optimistic. Try hiking across county for 20 km with a 20 kg backpack to get a feel of what this might be like!  This is probably a distance under ideal conditions, more realistic distances might be much closer to the station.  However, using two such vehicles, each with one or two astronauts, would be able to provide mutual support on sorties of up to half a day’s drive from the station, which might be as far as 50 km with reasonable driving conditions.  Depending on the landing site this might be enough to cover most if not all the regions of interest for an initial mission, avoiding the need for a heavy pressurised rover.  This could be sent on a later mission if required.


Artist’s conception of an unpressurised rover on Mars (by David Hardy).

Artist’s conception of an unpressurised rover on Mars (by David Hardy).


On Mars such vehicles could be fitted with a range of sensors to support crew EVAs such as video cameras, panoramic cameras, geophysical  and surveying equipment, to name a few. In addition be being driven by astronauts they could potentially be remote controlled, or even operate semi-autonomously.  Many of the necessary automation and teleoperation capabilities have already been tested for light military vehicles, such as the John Deere “R-Gator”.  In addition to exploration they could be used to deploy solar arrays and power cables, carry out earth moving tasks (such as burying facilities, smoothing roads, excavating material for water extraction, and for scouting the landing site before the crew arrive.  Unpressurised rovers  could also be used to monitor sites of interest after the crew leave.


ToolCat light vehicle with earth moving attachments (Bobcat).

ToolCat light vehicle with earth moving attachments (Bobcat).


Another advantage of such vehicles is that they can be rapidly re-configured with a range of basic earth moving tools such as tip trays, buckets, and blades, much as their terrestrial counterparts already can.  While not as efficient as specialised vehicles for such tasks (such as the Bobcat, familiar on building sites the world over), they will be more than good enough for initial Mars missions.  Phobos and Deimos may indeed be the shape of things to come.