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Archive: 05 Dec 2016

Sol Summary – December 5th

December 5, 2016 | Permalink

Sol Summary Report (SSR):


Person filling out report: Annalea Beattie

Summary Title: Another Busy Sol!

Mission Status on track:

Sol Activity Summary:


Sol # 73 and we are a week away from the end of the mission.

Writing for me today as I finished my article on extremophile Yusuke and his great architectural dome project. This morning we tidied up a few stray ends with the writing, chose the photos and sent it Shannon for review.

Claude-Michel worked on the plants, pumped water and wrote reports.

Yusuke continued work on his 3D model of the hab after measuring every length and breadth of our home. Jon cooked lunch. Anu cleaned glassware, checked halophile plates and did some lab work. She is now writing the halophile plating report.

Anastasiya spent time in the lab, did some filming and wrote journalists reports.

On the EVA today Jon and Alex tested Alex’s project, the SSUIt (Space Suit User Interface) and Jerry the pack rat was released to the dry creek bed.

Please see today’s photo report for touching images of Jerry 4 leaving his cage and scampering off into the scrub.


Reports Submitted to CapCom:

  1.   Sol Summary- Annalea
  2.   EVA Narrative – Jon
  3.   Food report- Claude-Michel
  4.   Pictures – Anastasiya
  5. Photos of the Day – yes


Words of wisdom today from Anu:

When you love your work, it’s effortless.

Plans for tomorrow: EVAs tomorrow (gypsum and field drawing tests) plus IMBP tests

Crew Physical Status: Surprisingly excellent.

Weather: Still cold

Anomalies: Another Jerry packrat was caught early this morning.

They do all look the same. We imagine they are related.

EVA Narrative – December 5th

December 5, 2016 | Permalink


Jon Clarke


Small sandstone breakaways

The subject of today’s narrative is an EVA along Pleiades Rd, a back track through the eastern part of the MDRS field area. Four of us set out,  Anushree and Anastasiya in the Phobos electric rover, Alex and I on the quad bikes. The EVA was also aimed at testing Alex’s astronaut user interface (SUIt). First we headed north on Cow Dung Rd to check out a final outcrop for my palaeochannel work and to get some footage for Anastasiya.  I was interested in a series of breakaways (small mesas) whose relation to the larger palaeochannels was ambiguous.  I concluded the were associated with crevasse splays, or ruptures in the natural levees of the Jurassic river banks that resulted in deposition of sand bodies that are now preserved as the breakaway caps. Alex and Anushree then headed back to the station in Phobos, with Anushree driving for the first time, another milestone for her at MDRS!


Anastasiya filming a video segment


Alex and Anushree in Phobos

Anastasiya and I then head south along Pleiades Rd.  This is a rough track, washed out in places, that runs to the east of a break in the landscape.  This is formed by a low (5-10 m) discontinuous escarpment composed of a widespread conglomerate and sandstone unit that marks the break between the clay-rich Brushy Basin Member of the Morrison Formation above and the sand-rich Salt Wash member of the same formation below.  The upper 5-10 m of the Salt Wash Member is less sandy than the rest of the Salt Wash Member below, and containing broad sandstone tracts and sheets, red siltstone and minor mudstone interbedded with fine sandstone.  This represents the ancient floodplain deposits of the braided rivers that formed the Member, in contrast to the fixed channels and clay-rich flood plains that characterised the Brushy Basin Member.


Escarpment along Pleiades Rd

Close up, the edges of the escarpment reveal many details of the processes that occurred during the deposition of the sediments and subsequent processes that modified their composition and texture. This later medication, which turns unconsolidated sediment into rock, is called diagenesis.  Understanding diagenesis is important not only from an academic perspective, but is also of crucial importance in economic geology.  The sediments of the Colorado Plateau, including the Salt Wash Member, form a world-class uranium province, and a distinct category of mineralisation is named after them.  They are formed by groundwater flowing through sandstones such as these and reacting with organic matter in the surrounding sediments or in the sandstones themselves.  While such uranium mineralisation is extremely unlikely on Mars, other diagenesis-related mineral accumulations may not be.  Understanding martian diagenesis will be as important in the exploration for martian resources as it is in exploration for terrestrial resources.


Annotated diagram showing different rock types exposed along the edge of the escarpment. 

However, on our EVA, resources were far from our mind.  We were more interested in the immediate issues of driving along the track.  Riding a quad bike, like riding a horse, is something of a workout, as you have to steer, keep your balance, and constantly adjust your posture at the quad bike moves over the uneven terrain, all while wearing 17 kg of the simulates space suit. On the way we came across a small water reservoir, with a thin film of ice on it. Ice is something we would expect to see on Mars, but not open water, except perhaps at the lowest elevations and only briefly on the warmest days.



Recipe for Monstrous Pancake Cake

December 5, 2016 | Permalink

Food Report for the 4th of December 2016.

monstreous-cake-presentation montreous-cake-layout

Monstrous Pancake cake : (for Very hungry and cake desperate, sweets lovers.)

Enough pancake mix to make 5 larges pancake. (plus all the other ingredients to make the pancakes)
1 Can of cherry pie mix.
1 Cup of dehydrated banana.
1 Cup of dehydrated strawberries
1 Cup of dehydrated raspberry
A full packets of chocolate pudding (The more the merrier)

For this recipe it is important that you have enough chocolate pudding to cover to the whole cake plus to fill each layers.

Making the Pancakes
Step MtP – 1: Heat a frying pan to medium low heat.

Step MtP – 2 : Cook all the pancake mix into 5 large pancakes, until they are golden brown on both sides.

Making Each layers
Step MEL – 01 : To make the first layer, put the first pancake on the serving dish.

Step MEL – 02 : Cover the pancake with the cherry pie mix.

Step MEL – 03 : Put the second pancake on top of the cherry pie mix.

Step MEL – 04 : Cover the pancake with chocolate pudding and add all the strawberries on the pudding.

Step MEL – 05 : Cover the strawberries and pudding with the third pancake.

Step MEL – 06 : Cover the pancake with chocolate pudding and add all the bananas on the pudding.

Step MEL – 07 : Cover the bananas and pudding with the forth pancake

Step MEL – 08 : Cover the pancake with chocolate pudding and add all the raspberries on the raspberry.

Step MEL – 09 : Cover the raspberries and chocolate pudding with the fifth and last pancake.

Step MEL – 10 : Cover the last pancake with chocolate pudding. Cover the all sides of the cake with chocolate pudding.

Step MEL – 11 : Put the cake in the fridge to cool down, and then serve to all your friends, family and guest.

This desert is best serve with balloons, confetti and a large appetite.

We made this cake not thinking that it would be good, but it ended up being the monster we thought it was, the kind of in «Where the Wild Things Are» sweet, and delicious and inoffensive. We all ate the cake and like it, the different layers really added to the experience and the pleasure of sharing this meal. I hope, if you try this, you will share the same experience as us.

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

Sol Journal – December 5th

December 5, 2016 | Permalink

Take my job

Movies and books created this image of Commander – tall, athletic, more than 40 years old, tough, hardly smiles and always hides the secrets from the past. The commander of Mars 160 mission is tall, slim, less than 40 years old, kind, jokes every day and has nothing to hide. Alexandre Mangeot is an aerospace engineer from France with an ambitious dream to become not only the astronaut but to be among first explorers on Mars. It is his third mission at Mars Desert Research Station, in which for two of them he was the commander. The first time I met him was two years ago at our semi-final selection rotation here in the desert of Utah. Back then, our commander was geologist Paul Knightly, which will join us for the Arctic mission, and Alexandre was the Executive Officer. As I mentioned many times, the crew performed so smooth and I wondered how would we do under new commander. It is Sol 73, seven days until the first part of the mission is over. While I’m writing this journalist report, Alexandre is trying to repair the lens part from my camera. He doesn’t give up, even though he had several tries. “I promised you, I will do the best I can, until I run out of options” – said Commander glowing with delight. This small example shows that Alexandre is the man of his word and true engineer. He can sit hours and hours assembling dozens of small parts in camera lens or connecting sensors to a mini computer and writing the codes. If any of us have a problem with computer, internet or any other gadgets Alexandre is the one who can fix it. 

He grew up watching the “McGyver” TV series, the story about a brave guy, who always helped people and got out of any difficult situation using engineering skills. McGyver always uses local resources to invent mechanical and electrical tools to help him out and save his life. As Alexandre says, his inventions work with the first try and he dreams to have this super engineering power as well. Alexandre wanted to have the nickname “McGyver”. Unfortunately, for him, whenever he cuts out the internet to save it for reports and research or controls how much data we consume and sees how many devices are connected – we call him “Darth Vader”. Of course, our Commander is not evil at all. He is fair, has great sense of humor, when needed strict and when needed kind. But he also deserves the McGyver nickname, by being able to fix almost anything at the station with the given limited resources.

I’m grateful that Alexandre found the balance between keeping the discipline, subordination and  trusting the crew. Every morning just after the breakfast commander calls us for the briefing. We all tell our plans for the day, decide who cooks lunch and dinner, who writes creative reports and discuss the EVA schedule. If something prevents any of us to work, fulfill their project’s goals Alexandre does his best to solve the problem and negotiate if other parties are involved. Alexandre’s projects aim to improve the life and work of the crew – designing the 3D model of new station and creation of space suit interface SSUIt. His first rotation at MDRS was in 2012 and since then the idea of implementing renewed design of the habitat into real life became his little dream. Alexandre started the graphic work at the beginning of the mission and now has the preliminary study almost ready to go. The final touches will be done in the second part of the mission next year. The SSUIt project is the interface to implement into existing Mars Society space suit in order to monitor health during the EVA and collect the data from environment. So far, he tested it on the field with the sensors for: GPS; temperature and humidity inside of the helmet and outside; pressure; UV, infrared, visible light and the webcam. Alexandre plans to finish the prototype when he is back home and will bring for the Arctic mission final product for four space suits.

The projects could have been more advanced but to be the good commander took all his time. I remember that often after midnight I could see Alexandre working on his projects. I remember the desperation and anxiety on his face every time the space suit interface failed. I remember that no matter how tired and busy he was, he always listened to us. He always tried to understand each of the crew member and find the solution. Often it is standing between two fires and staying cool. But I also remember his smile at the dinners when we are all happy discussing the little successes of the day. I will never forget how much effort, patient and love Alexandre put into the Mars 160 crew. If somebody thinks to be a commander is just to walk around with a cool look and give the orders. Well, take the job and carry the heavy weight of responsibilities for three months 24/7, don’t lose your temper and be the best crew member! Being a commander is hard job and in many aspects you have to be ready to sacrifice yourself for the well being of the crew and the mission. I like to imagine the life in 10 years and I see so real the video conference from Space station, where Alexndre Mangeot, the Commander, sends his regards to Earth before starting the engines and heading to Mars!

Picture of the Day – December 5th

December 5, 2016 | Permalink

Commander enjoys the view

Commander enjoys the view

Crew Photos – December 5th

December 5, 2016 | Permalink

Solar battery bank control panel in science dome

Solar battery bank control panel in science dome





Egressing the airlock

Egressing the airlock


Annalea is still drawing

Annalea is still drawing


Anastasiya on quad

Anastasiya on quad


Alexandre fixes the lens

Alexandre fixes the lens


15 kW Solar Array

15 kW Solar Array