Mission Control Carter Observatory

During the two weeks of the expedition, Carter Observatory Wellington acted as "New Zealand Mission Control". 

Carter’s stunning library was transformed into a high-tech mission control for the duration of the crew’s stay in Utah. A suite of laptops along with Mars themed exhibits set the scene and allowed students, teachers and the public to interact with KiwiMars Crew, find out about the mission, and learn more from expert astronomers.

Carter also provided dedicated staff members to look after Mission Control and interact with visitors. This included short presentations about the project and the mission progress at least twice a day, incorporating the latest updates from the base.

All planetarium shows during this time included Mars content and updates from the crew, inspiring visitors to go out and look for the planet for themselves in the night-time sky. Carter also provided a venue for meetings in the build-up to the mission and for a public event once the crew return from Utah.

Education Log-MDRS

The following log is written to give a record of what type of questions were being asked by the students, teachers & visitors at Carter Observatory who interacted with the crew in SIM. The method of communication was via “Chatroll” an online tool of instant messaging.

This instant messaging took place almost every day (see logs) from 1600 hrs to 2300 hrs MDRS time (10 AM to 5 PM NZST).

Today we had 3 school groups through Carter. Two groups from St. Peter & Pauls school in Lower Hutt and one group from Newlands College. Newlands were specifically looking at extreme life as a project and these questions were recorded separately.

Questions from students
Answers offered by the crew (various crew members)

What is your favourite part about living on Mars?

The best part is exploring a new world. We want to explore the surface and have a look at its rocks. We want to see if it’s possible to live here one day

What do you enjoy about being on Mars or at Utah?

What’s exciting here is being able to see all the different things that are to see and do. The landscape is so different here than on Earth

Do you have a gymnasium?

No but we do exercise every day. (like stretching and running to get the heart pumping) In a microgravity environment if you don’t exercise all the blood pools toward your heart and your bones become weak and brittle because they are not being used

What do you do for entertainment?

We watch movies, play games and generally chat about the mission (past highlights & planning for the future )

What is the bedding like?

The beds we sleep in are mattresses with a single pillow. It takes a while to get used to as it can be hard on your back at times

What is it like being an astronaut?

Being an astronaut is hard work but it’s great because you get to see lots of different views which is spectacular

Why is Mars red?

Mars is red because it contains Iron Oxide or rust both on the surface or in the atmosphere

What happens if someone gets sick while on Mars?

If someone gets sick we have all sorts of emergency supplies and medicines here. We also have the advice of a flight surgeon if someone got injured. (one of our crew did in the first couple of days and we had to get her leg x-rayed-not sure what we might do on Mars though?)

Newlands College - extreme life questions

Have you discovered anything that would help improve the productivity and enjoyability of a real Mars mission? If so what? 

That is part of what this mission is about. It is hoped that analogue missions such as this will give NASA data about how life on Mars will really be. This includes the physical and psychological aspects of living there

Is there anything that would help make life on Mars more bearable?

Again part of this mission is to see what will/won’t work with regard to making life bearable on Mars. It’s important to know the effect on how humans will live together and what support/equipment is vital to setting up a possible colony on Mars

Why is it necessary to have decompression before you go outside? 

Decompression is a process where the atmosphere is slowly changed in an airlock so it equalizes the atmosphere from the Habitat (place where the astronauts live) to surface conditions. If this didn’t happen then the astronauts would die

If 2 major factors of life on Mars aren’t applicable on Earth such as atmosphere and gravity, how do you keep it as realistic or as close to the real thing as possible? 

We can only simulate the things we can do on Earth that make it appear to make it as real as possible. This is why we wear space suits going outside and eat the same kind of food that we think the astronauts will have when they go to Mars

Is there life (bacterial or otherwise) on Mars?

The current information suggests that there is no life on Mars now. (this comes from data from probes and photograph observations) There may have been life millions of years ago however. This is due to the presence of water. The mark the water has made to make dry river channels that have been seen in photos etc. There may be life hidden in the rocks as is found on Earth. Micro-organisms can grow in the rocks in the most inhospitable places (like here in Utah) and are called extremophiles

What about water? Where are you getting your water supply from?

We get our water supplied in a large bin container that gets topped up from Hanksville. (5 miles away) If we were on Mars we would need to bring all our water with us and recycle it as much as possible. This is what has happened on the space shuttle. Astronauts recycle their water and this can be cleaned and used over so it can be conserved (drinking water was urine…)

If you lived on Mars do you think it would be better to live in a dome or underground?

Both have merit but it would be easier to set up a dome and transport with it in a space craft. Underground dwellings would need to be prepared (unless already there in advance) and this would need extra time and resources

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