Archive: 16 Nov 2016
Science post – November 16th
SOIL SCIENCE IN THE LAB
Today Anushree and I started doing experiments in the beautiful new science dome, the latest addition to the MDRS campus. Not yet fully furnished, it is already a useful working volume for field science.
Today we were determining some of the basic physical and chemical properties of soil samples using some widely used field laboratory methods.
The new science dome at MDRS.
Inside the dome. It has a great view and plenty of space for more equipment.
Soil samples ready for processing.
The first step is semi-quantitative determination of texture (sand, silt, clay proportions). This is the fun part. You mix water into your ample and roll it into a ball-if you can. Then you make a ribbon out of it. Playing with mud in the name of science!
You then measure out your soil sample…..
And mix it with 5 times the amount of water. Mix well! Thi8s is why it’s called the 1:5 method. You can measure the electrical conductivity and acidity of the resulting slurry.
At last some numbers. In this case pH. Yes, the soil is alkaline. Also salty.
Simple though this technique is, one used by soil scientists the world over, it is in principle similar to what has already been done on Mars. In 2009 the Wet Chemistry Lab on the Phoenix lander mixed distilled water with martian soil in the ration of 1:25, and the used sensitive electrodes to determine the amount and species of salt present in the soil and it’s pH. This is how perchlorate was discovered on Mars- the solution to many previously unanswered questions regarding martian soil behaviour.
Robot arm about to load soli sample into the Wet Chemistry Laboratory of the Phoenix lander. This was part of the MECA instrument suite.
The Best 3 Space Movies of the Crew
A person’s character could be inferred from their taste of Movies!
Mars160 Crew’s the best 3 favorite “SPACE” movies (or TV shows).
3.Star Trek (New one)
3.Solaris (Russian one)
2.Mars Needs Moms
3.The Man Who Knew Infinity
1.2001: Space Odyssey
2.Planet of the Apes (Old one)
2.National Geographic Mission to MARS
1.PLANETES (Japanese Animation)
2.The Astronaut Farmer
Sol Summary – November 16th
Sol Summary Report (SSR): Sol# 54
Person filling out report: Annalea Beattie
Summary Title: TICK, TOCK.
Mission Status: On track
Sol Activity Summary:
Quite a grey windy day today but a lovely pink sunset. Water is low now and we are very careful about what we use until the refill arrives. No EVA today. We have had a slow, steady comfortable day, working on our projects. Anastasiya wrote her journalist report and she mopped the floor. Jon and Anushree were in the lab, soil processing. Claude-Michel spent some time tending our indoor horticulture.
Alex worked on a new habitat design. Yusuke worked on his dome project, which he intends to assemble early next week. I had the best rest morning from everything, cleaned my loft upstairs and started writing a poem about drawing hypoliths.
After a leftover lunch, yoga then reports. And later this afternoon we all wrote our diary to Polina, (Institute of Bio-Medical Problems), now it’s a bit like writing to mum.
Pizza for dinner, thank you Yusuke for the hours spent making pizza dough and baking.
Reports Submitted to CapCom:
- Sol Summary- Annalea
- Journalist report- Anastasiya
- Favourite Films- Yusuke
- Lab Picture Essay- Jon
- Pictures -YES
- Photo of the Day -YES
MDRS lessons: Every soil sample is a different colour.
Plans: Lichen EVA tomorrow.
Crew Physical Status: Healthy and happy.
Weather: Bit gloomy and very noisy wind.
Sol Journal – November 16th
Partners of the planets
by Anastasiya Stepanova
A few days ago, we watched the movie “Oblivion”. It started with a story that aliens destroyed the Moon and this caused catastrophes on Earth. On Monday it was a special day for those who love gazing at the night sky. The last time earthlings could see the Supermoon was in 1948. When the Moon is full, appearing 14 % bigger and up to 30 % brighter than usual it is called a Supermoon. The full phase is taking place at the Moon’s closest point in its orbit around the Earth, a 221, 735 miles away from us! If you already missed it, well you have another chance in 2034.
Even though in simulation we don’t go on EVA’s at night, this day was exceptional. At 5 pm Yusuke and Claude-Michel went to the science dome to look at the rise of the Moon, since the dome has a wide window with an amazing view. Minutes were passing but no sign of it. Commander started to worry. “We couldn’t miss it! Only if a black hole ate the moon” – said Alexandre with a smile. And I imagined what would happen to us, if the Moon disappears? Why is our natural satellite so important?
Considering that the average distance to the Moon is 384, 400 km (238,900 mi), it has both directly and indirectly influenced the life on our planet. The Moon’s gravity pulls on Earth’s oceans and distorts them, which causes the tides. The tidal forces also affect the crust, which contributes to the heat of the magma underneath. The Moon also stabilized the obliquity of our planet, which keeps healthy and diverse climatic zones. The Moon shows the path on dark nights to humans for thousands of years. It inspired scientists, artists and writers. The Moon race in the 60-s affected our life now. We use the technological inventions, hardly knowing that they are the products of the Space race.
If the Moon was destroyed, we will be in a big trouble! Earthquakes, agricultural disasters and many other consequences will follow us. The survival of humans will be under the question mark.
As I walked out the airlock in the space suit, for the first time at night, I realized how lucky we are to have this partner. The Supermoon shown so bright that we didn’t need to use the torch. The red desert of Utah suddenly transformed into lunar base surrounded with grey hills and dunes. There was something magical and peaceful in this change of decorations. We took pictures, gazed at the beautiful sky and went to our cozy habitat thinking of what will enlighten our path at night on Mars?
Phobos and Deimos – the partners of red planet are too small and remind us of two wrongly shaped stones. The view of Deimos from Mars is the same as we see Venus, just a bright star. Like our Moon, Phobos and Deimos are always seen on Mars from one side. The orbit radius of Phobos decreases and in few centuries the satellite will be broken up due to its close approach to Mars. Maybe if Mars had a Moon similar to our natural satellite, it would have better chance to sustain life. But for now it is a planet inhabited by robots, which will someday lose Fear (Phobos, from Greek mythology) and keep Terror (Deimos, from Greek mythology).