Final MDRS123 Mission Report 9st Feb
Date Time: 20:00 02/09/2013
Written By: MDRS123 Crew
MDRS123 crew rotation had an ambitious workload of projects and supplementary activities.
The primary projects were:
(1) Application of Risk Analysis for Planetary Protection
The project PI (Principal Investigator) was Melanie Newfield, with project objective to adapt Antarctic bio-protection risk analysis techniques that she has used in the Antarctic to a simulated Mars exploration environment. Melanie applied the technique for forward and backward contamination to the movement of people in and out of the Hab during in-sim EVA and during in-sim EVA field science sample collection work, as well as for the greenhab. Final assessment of the risks will be completed post the MDRS123 mission.
(2) Investigation of Dust Suits and Quantifying Dust Transfer
The project PI was Emma Braegen with project objective to investigate dust transfer: on space suits from outside to inside the Hab, characteristics of dust particle sizes inside the Hab, and to investigate the use of removable overalls as an dust management technique. The crew donned white ‘painter’ overalls over their space suits and undertook in-sim EVAs doing Mars exploration activities of: close in-situ photography of rock features by Melanie, drilling into rock for cutting samples by David and Jen, and digging subsurface for stratigraphy identification and sample collection by Rosalba. Measurements made during the dust experiment: the dust mass brought into the Hab via weighing the dust overalls before and after the EVAs, collection of dust brought in on the suits, collection of dust samples from the EVA location, and collection of dust samples from a number of surfaces inside the Hab.
The dust samples will be characterized for size and material distribution and water content at NASA Ames post mission. Thus the dust characteristics from locations in the field, on the space suits and within the Hab can be compared.
The use of removable overalls donned over the space suits, removed in the airlock as a dust management method was investigated and discussed and considered to be a viable option particularly if the dust overalls were designed for quick donning and removal over spacesuits.
The most interesting result from the experiment is that the crew struggled to get dust to stick to the ‘painter’ overalls despite rolling on the ground. The primary reason appeared to be that the painter overalls appeared to have dust repellant qualities. Most of the dust was brought in on boots. This feature could be employed on Mars space suits.
(3) Comparison of Geological Observations Using a Rover with Ground Truth Observation
The project PI was David Willson and Co-I Jen Blank with objective to use the Hab rover as a Mars science rover investigating geological features and compare what is seen through the Rover camera to a ground truth by geologist Jen Blank.
Unfortunately, the rover had software problems, failing to boot-up for the experiment. Attempts were made to fix the problem. It is probable that the Rover has been affected by the very cold conditions, in particular if it has been left outside or in the airlock or suit room.
(4) Flight Testing an Image-Mapping Quadcopter
The project PI was David Willson with objective to test fly a Quadcopter developed at NASA Ames that can photograph high science value sites. Unfortunately, the test flight was cancelled due to loss of time due delays from the weather and Rover maintenance. Long-term robot operation on Mars could require high maintenance particularly if the systems are not robust for the conditions.
(5) Raman and Reflectance Spectrometer Analysis of Gale Crater Analog Samples
The project PI was David Willson with objective to trial an organics focused Raman spectrometer and Ocean Optics reflectance spectrometer on Gale carter analog samples. The spectrometers were assembled and made operational and many spectra were made of analog samples. Results will be reviewed and analyzed post mission. The spectrometers have been left in the HAB for use by the Euromoonmars crews MDRS124 and 125.
(6) Collection of Samples for Curiosity Test Bed Analyses
The project PI was Dr. Jen Blank and objective to collect a rock samples consisting of a dozen rock types that are an analogue to rocks found a Gale Crater on Mars. 10 rock sample kits are to be made for use by the MSL team and for MDRS and the Mars society.
Samples were collected from around the Hab, in the Factory Butte area and in the Henry Mountain region. Rosalba and David assisted in the rock identification and collection.
(7) Investigation of Rock Coatings
The project PI was Dr. Jen Blank and objective to collect a rock samples showing ‘desert varnish’. This may be present on Mars rocks. Rock samples were collected during the same part (6) sample collection expeditions. The samples may be used in the MSL team as analogs for possible rocks found by Curiosity.
(8) Collaboration with the Austrian Antipodes Project.
The project PI was Haritina Mogosanu, located in New Zealand, with objective to simulate the communications link a Mars scientist astronaut in the field to a number of advisers and expert in different locations on Earth. The project employed “Mumble” a low bandwidth voice software on laptops and iphones linking Melanie and Emma to locations in New Zealand, Austria and Morocco. The final simulation was an in-sim EVA undertaking sample collection for organic analysis. The coms link was successful.
In addition supplementary activities included: (1) developing recipes using space storable food, (2) an inventory of Hab mechanical and electrical equipment, (3) maintaining and improving Green Hab food production, (4) Images for image maps, (5) Outreach work, including filming by Seven Network Australia, Skype and chatroll sessions with New Zealand schools and the making of videos for Australia’s channel Ten network children’s science show.
The crew consisted of: David Willson, mission commander, an Australian mechanical engineer working at NASA Ames, Dr. Jen Blank, mission scientist a geologist working at NASA Ames and part of the MSL science team, Melanie Newfield, journalist and mission specialist, a New Zealand Biologist from the NZ Ministry of Primary Industry, and Emma Braegen, mission engineer, an Australian mechanical engineer working at BAE Systems Australia.
Jen Blank stayed for 10 days, departing for MSL meetings, and was replaced by Dr. Rosalba Bonaccorsi, an environmental scientist working at NASA Ames, and Stefanie Toth a German visual communication expert, and research associate at NASA Ames.
The crew were able to complete most of the projects and supplementary tasks by collaborating together during experiments but each recording data associated with their particular project. Most projects were completed with the exception of the Rover and Quadcopter related projects where both had software issues preventing the operation of the machines. The weather was very cold, to subzero temperatures (degrees C) over night resulting in the first 4 days and last 2 days of the mission affected by snow and very sticky muddy ground. This delayed the implementation of the mission program causing the cancellation of the Quadcopter project.
Finally the crew had supplementary activities which included: the development of 20 recipes using space storable food by Melanie, food inventory and kitchen reorganisation by Melanie, an inventory of Hab mechanical and electrical equipment by Emma, the filming of the crew by Seven Network Australia for transmission in Australia and on the Web, improving Green Hab food production by Melanie resulting in radish micro-greens and sprouts for eating, Skype and chatroll sessions with for New Zealand schools by Melanie and Emma, Images of scientifically interesting locations for image maps by Stephanie, and the making of a videos for Australia’s channel Ten network children’s science show by the crew.