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Archive: 07 Oct 2016

Sol Journal for October 7th

October 7, 2016 | Permalink

This report was filed by Anastasiya Stepanova- Crew Journalist

Connect, connect!

Can you have a cell phone on Mars, use Skype, foursquare and periscope applications? No, no and no. But you can have a walkie-talkie, PC and use the internet to check emails, post pictures in social networks, write blogs and read news websites. How does it feel? Actually, great!

The modern world insist to use the phone. Somehow it became an extension of a hand. People don’t even have moments to just gaze at the sky or think about life. In traffic jams, queues and whenever bored they all scroll down on the screen, just reading the headlines, but not reading the actual article. Too much information pressure from every corner: TV, internet, radio, mobile phone. I’m not surprised that we all are confused in this information overload.

Here at Mars Desert Research Station phones and fast unlimited internet don’t exist anymore. 1 GB of internet for the seven people, which mostly we use for research, Capsule Communication (CAPCOM) and outreach. We follow the simulation protocols in communication with Earth also. There is 6 to 40 minutes round-trip radio communication delay between Earth and Mars and with the speed of our internet connection we are also waiting 3 to 20 minutes to open the webpage, upload picture. When we have such restrictions, we are more concentrated to get only the useful data, to prepare all the materials to be sent and to enjoy the time away from all these information noise.

“How we can have an internet on Mars?” – many people ask me. There have been several ideas proposed by space agencies and different organizations. One is to have a satellite on Mars orbit, Sun orbit at the Lagrange point L5 and a server on Earth. Another way is to have a several servers orbiting the Mars. Probably one day somewhere in the 2050’s to country, city and street names will be added one more option “planet”.

Crew Photos – October 7th

October 7, 2016 | Permalink

Anushree at sampling site

Anushree at sampling site


Commander Alexander getting ready for eva

Commander Alexander getting ready for eva


Anastasia is preparing Anushree for EVA

Anastasia is preparing Anushree for EVA


Eva team heading back to the hab long day of work

Eva team heading back to the hab long day of work


Jon Anushree and Alexander during EVA

Jon Anushree and Alexander during EVA


Jon, Yusuke, Alexander, and Anushree ready to egress

Jon, Yusuke, Alexander, and Anushree ready to egress




Yusuke and Jon collecting samples

Yusuke and Jon collecting samples


Yusuke during EVA

Yusuke during EVA

Science Report for October 7th

October 7, 2016 | Permalink


Cross-training in Stratigraphy.

After a discussion about the word ‘orogeny ‘, this morning Anushree and I began an impromptu session of cross-training on the basic laws of stratigraphy (the writings of the strata) with geologist Jon Clarke.

Stratigraphy helps us realise and identify the order of the processes that form each layer of rocks in relation to a relative time-line. We were introduced to Steno’s Laws as a way of thinking about geology as a factual narrative science which builds a story from the relationships of rocks. Jon says context is everything!

When we think about our desert environment here at MDRS, we learnt that :

1.    Sediments are laid down as horizontal strata until disturbed.
2.    Young strata are laid down on older strata.
3.    Strata laterally continue until interrupted.
4.    Rock fragments are older than the sediments that contain them (like raisins in a cake are older than the cake itself).
5.    Cross cutting features  are younger than the features they cross with (whether its a fault or a crack or a dyke – all are younger).
6.    Contact between rocks can be: conformable (horizontal layers); disconformable (with some part eroded away and re-layered horizontally and this may take millions of years); or unconformable (where the rocks are tilted on end then the next layers are laid down flat on top). Non-conformable is where sediments are laid down on top of eroded crystalline bedrock eg. granites, gneisses etc

These basic laws defined by Steno, Hutton, and others led to others deriving the succession of fossils (biostratigraphy).  Archaeologists and forensic scientists use similar principles.

Most interesting for me was the easy way our crew geologist used drawing to help us understand relationships. Unless we were in the field and could observe from firsthand without diagrams, we would never have been able to think through these ideas.

Science Report #2 for October 7th

October 7, 2016 | Permalink


Jonathan Clarke

Mars Society Australia


Stromatolites are laminated cone, column or dome-shaped structures formed by mineralised photosynthetic biofilms.  The range in height from a few mm to several metres.  Stromatolites are found in a wide range of subaqueous environments, including lakes, hot springs, tidal flats, lagoons, and saline springs.  Perhaps the best known modern environment is Shark Bay, Australia.




Modern stromatolites in Shark Bay Australia


They are also among the oldest signs of life on Earth, recently reported from rocks that are 3.8 billion years old in Greenland.  Furthermore, stromatolites often preserve microfossils, organic biomarkers, and isotopic signatures of biological activity and well known from the 3.5 billion year old rocks of the Pilbara region of Australia.




Stromatolites in 3.5 billion year old rocks of the Pilbara region of Australia


Early Mars was much more Earth-like than today, if life was ever present on the planet it is likely that stromatolites would be among the most easily recognised evidence for its presence.  Possible related features, microbial mats in sandstones and geyserites (microbial deposits found in hot springs) have been tentatively been observed in imagery from the Spirit and Curiosity missions by Nora Nofke and Steve Ruff, respectively.  These conclusions were made long after the rovers were driven away from the site and cannot be confirmed. Therefore timely recognition of stromatolites and the ability to revisit sites of interest is essential for any astrobiology mission to Mars to allow their detailed study.  It is likely that only a crewed mission can enable this level of investigation and Mars-bound astronauts will have extensive training in their identification.




Possible geyserites observed by the Spirit rover mission in Gale Crater on Mars (NASA)


Stromatolitic Mars analogues enable us to determine how readily stromatolites can be recognised under Mars mission constraints and how best they can be studied in the field, what instrumentation should be used, and which samples should be returned for further study. The Mars 160 expedition will study two different stromatolite occurrences.


We aim to study three locations near the Mars Desert Research Station during the first phase of the Mars 160 mission.  Already we have completed a scouting mission to the first of these. These stromatolite locations have been reported from three sites in the hinterland to the Mars Desert Research Station from the Navajo Formation, a succession of Jurassic (about 150 million years old) sand dunes.  They occur in the depressions between the former dunes and are thought to have grown in pools fed by runoff or possibly groundwater.  Some may be associated with spring vents, perhaps similar to the spring-fed stromatolites of Blue Lake in Australia.  These are high value Mars analogues for conditions expected during Noachian and Early Hesperian Mars (prior to 3.5 billion years ago).  During this epoch when ephemeral to semi-permanent lakes and pools in groundwater discharge are likely to have occurred in active dune fields are known to have been present, and runoff was high enough to support at least occasional river flow.




Documenting possible stromatolitic mounds in the Navajo Formation during the M160 expedition


During the second phase of the Mars 160 Expedition we will be able to study the diverse Silurian to Ordovician (roughly 450 to 500 million years ago) stromatolites of Devon Island.  Unlike the rare and isolated stromatolites in the Navajo Formation, these form a major component part of large and extensive limestone formations deposited in a warm shallow ocean, not unlike the modern Persian Gulf.

Recipe for 3.1415pinash

October 7, 2016 | Permalink


Food Report for the 7th of October 2016.

3.1415pinash: (for your math lover friends)

For the dough:

  • 3 cups of white flour
  • 3 tbsp of baking powder
  • 4 tbsp of butter(we used butter topping)
  • 3-4 eggs.
  • ¼ cup of water

For the filling:

  • 4 cups of dehydrated spinach flakes (real fresh spinach will do)
  • 3 cups of dehydrated cheese ( er used a mix of Colby and Mozzarella) real cheese will do.

Note: The quantity of filling ingredients will depend on the surface to cover. The larger the oven pan the more you will want.

Step 01: Insert in a mixing bowl the white flour, the baking soda, the butter and the eggs.

Step 02: Stir the ingredients while slowly incorporating the water.

Step 03: Cover and reserve somewhere cold for a few hours.

Step 04: Hydrated the filling ingredients for 10-15 minutes.

Step 05:  Purge the excess of water from the filling and reserve.

Step 06: Once the dough is ready, roll the dough into a thin layer of few millimeter think.

Step 07: Cover an oven pan with the dough. Make sure the border will hold the entire filling.

Step 08: Fill the dough with the filling.

Step 09: Put in the oven at for ½ and hour at 300F.

Step 10: Take the end result form the oven; try to not eat too much before serving.

You don’t have to know math to enjoy this one.

Hope you will enjoy this dish, because we all did, and will wait for your feedback. What kind of food would you like to see or have us try and write about ?