Sol 5 : Mars under the snow

February 23, 2018

SOL 5 – Crew 189 : Mars under the snow

Journalist report,

As the weather forecasts were not very optimistic for today, both of our commandants cancelled todays EVA on yesterday evening. Hence, the morning would be lighter, and our waking was thus delayed by an hour, letting us catch up on our lost sleep. The first thing we noticed when we woke up was that our Martian landscape seemed to have brutally changed colors: it was now covered by a small layer of snow, which gave a new dimension to the scenery. The weather forcing us to stay inside, we lived therefore a rather light day, except for our traditional sport session.

As I did not itemize our exercises yet, I will do it right now! We start with a warm-up: we run on the spot for a while, then do high-stepping and heels to buttocks, before a small sprint. We carry on with lateral and central muscle sheathing, 1 minute for each position. After 10 push-ups, 10 full squats and 20 crunchs, it is time to go on with the core of the session. We can do the exercises of the session in 3 different ways: for each exercise, either 3 repetitions of 20 seconds separated with a 20 seconds break between repetitions and exercises, or 2 repetitions of 30 seconds separated with a 30 seconds break, or a unique repetition of 60 seconds with a 60 seconds break. The complete session is made of 7 exercises, but the team going on EVA does only half of them (4 out of 7 to be fairly precise), which are the followings : semi-squats, crunchs, push-ups, lunges, combined sit ups and knee raises, triceps push-ups on a chair and burpees. No need to say that such exercises are really demanding, especially in their 3 times 20 seconds version!

As the morning was quite free of activities, we decided to play our “Keep talking and nobody explodes” session earlier! We have to say that we got a taste for this game! It is also funny to see the other team play, especially when it is Louis’ time to defuse, as he likes to be sometimes mocking towards his team. Benoît has also been able to make his first observations of the sun, as the sky started to clear in the late morning.


It has now been a week since our arrival in the station, thus we had to draw an inventory of the remaining foodstuffs: Louis and Victoria took care of this task in the early afternoon. After a small break with a taste of Hanabi, Jérémy went on with his rover experience with the rest of the team. But after such a light day, we have planned a heavy day for tomorrow with an important EVA, in which we will retrieve the first data from our outside experiments!

Alexandre Martin, Crew 189 Journalist

Sol 4 : Back to its lo(a)cation!

February 22, 2018

SOL 4 – Crew 189 : Back to its lo(a)cation!

Journalist report

The ringing tone of my alarm woke me up once more as early as 6.30 am, a few minutes before Victoria traditional knock on our doors. Our next day off will certainly be significantly appreciated by our crew, as the departure to the sport session looked more like a zombie parade than like a team of astronauts leaving to their mission. Yet the sport made its effect, and half an hour later the crew looked way more in shape, ready to tackle the day! Gabriel, Jérémy, Laurent and Victoria were the ones to go out today, with the double mission of install both Laurent’s solar panels experiment and Jérémy’s LOAC, hoping it would not be forced to come back home a third time.

However, they started to fall behind as some of the spacesuits seemed to have ventilation issues, and they had to choose other ones. They thus went outside 10 minutes late, leaving Benoît, Louis and I 3 spacesuits to fix.

The team first stopped at Gabriel’s MegaARES, in order to put a box around the batteries. However, Gabriel scratched some cables doing so. Yet the damages were not so high, and one return trip to the Hab would be enough to fix it and to redeploy it shortly after. In the meantime, Laurent set his solar panels experiment: he tries to estimate the impact of dust on the performances of such panels. To get an idea of the optimal power, he plugged down Gabriel’s discharged phone, and planned to get it back some time later. It was also finally time for Jérémy to install his LOAC: and at last this time, everything worked as expected! He could finally go on with experiment. The team then came back to the Hab to let us fix the broken cables, with which Benoît and Louis dealt quite easily.

After a small detour to the MegaARES, the team went on exploration on the rovers. Gabriel was yet a bit upset about Victoria’s driving, which must have been too sporty for him. Our in-training astronauts last stopped once more in the instruments zone to get back Gabriel’s phone. The results were outstanding! It was now 70% charged after only half an hour! Meanwhile in the Hab, Louis and I worked on fixing the ventilation system of the spacesuits, while Benoît had the difficult job to make one of our gloves become tactile, a job he was able to accomplish by weaving a small metal wire in one of the fingers.

A usual, the afternoon was dedicated to human factors experiments, but only after Louis taught us how to play to card game Hanabi, certainly his favourite. We underwent our traditional session of defusing bombs: while Jérémy, Victoria and I had a lot of success, it was a bit harder for Laurent, Louis and Benoît, who seemed to have some difficulties to operate with numbers. Jérémy then caught me to participate to his own experiment. 10 minutes later, I was sitting in the Greenhab, with electrodes on my bare chest! The aim was here to control a rover located in the science dome with a camera system, in order to follow a defined path drawn on the floor. These events finalized a rather quiet day, like the calm before a potential storm in the next days.



Sol 3 : (Virtual) bomb alert

February 21, 2018

SOL 3 – Crew 189 : (Virtual) bomb alert

Journalist report,

As usual, Louis was the last one to come out of his room in the morning. Yet that did not stop him from rushing directly to the sport session wearing his greater flashy pink shirt that would have been absolutely perfect associated with Gabriel’s yellow legging; however we unfortunately did not have the opportunity to see such color explosion. After having once more aggravated our aches, we could at last taste our homemade pancakes, with a bit of that American fat concentrate that is called peanut butter.

With this appreciate caloric intake, we were ready for today’s EVA! Benoît, Laurent, Louis and I were the ones to leave the station on 9.30am, equipped with the fixed LOAC. Our first task looked easy at first: throw the dirty water away. However, the night must have been quite cold, as the water had almost totally frozen! But some kicks in the bucket later, we were finally able to extract the ice. We then rode a rover and ATVs to the dedicated place of the LOAC, where we could finally be able to set it up. However, while he connected the power supply, Louis caused a short circuit by touching two cables, and paid a very special tribute to Johnny Hallyday by lighting the fire into the LOAC. The team was more shaken than injured however, as the fire extinguished almost immediately. The LOAC’s power supply was yet still partially broken and we had to bring it back to the station to be fixed once more.

After having gone back and forth, we went on to the second part of the EVA: exploration. Equipped with our best ISAE-Supaero banner, we rode to a yet unexplored area. Even though we could take beautiful pictures of the landscape, cactus and fossilized animal defecations did not make up the best environment for our mission, and given the fog that started to expand on Louis and Laurent helmets, we decided to go back to the Hab.

After lunch, Louis gave us the first water consumption data: according to his calculations, each member of the crew is drinking approximately 3.2 liter a day, which is finally not so surprising when dehydrated food constitute most of our alimentation. The crew was a bit tired in the early afternoon, and most of us went to take a nap, even though some did not seem to assume that : Gabriel just wanted to “take a small break”, yet he was snoring 5 minutes after that. Later in the afternoon, it was time for him to launch his human factor experiment: making us play “Keep talking and nobody explodes”, a famous game in which one player has to defuse a bomb while the two others have the instructions to do it, he recorded us in order to analyse our reactions in a stressful situation. Benoit and I had the heavy burden to be the first ones to defuse, yet with the help of our teammates we succeeded in solving most of the cases. Stung by his failure of the previous day, Louis poured his heart and soul into making new bread, which he welcomed with sweet words (“oh, here is my baby”): this one looked this time far more palatable!

Alexandre Martin, Crew 189 Journalist

Sol 2 : First scientific and gastronomic hitches

February 20, 2018

SOL 2 - Crew 189 : First scientific and gastronomic hitches

Journalist report,

Our first own made bread prepared by Victoria was welcomed after such a long day we had. Though it was somehow a bit compact, it was yet tasty, and with some strawberry jam it made a nice dessert! After having filled our stomachs, it was yet time to go to sleep, to prepare for the second day of mission.

And sleeping early was crucial, as today’s sport beginning time was 7am … Some of our fellow crew members wore their nicest outfits : Benoît put on his shirt of Paris Saint-Germain, while Gabriel chosed the winning combo : fitted black shirt and (very) fitted flashy yellow legging. However, the sport session was shortened for the ones who would go on EVA: Gabriel, Jérémy, Benoît and Commander Victoria were the ones to go out this morning. The EVA followed the purpose of the last one: it was now time to place the measurement instruments, after having chosen the location, according to our observations of the previous day.

However, everything did not work as we expected. The team took a lot more time to be ready than they thought, as they had a lot of material to bring on the rover. The team first went placing the instrument of Jérémy’s experiment, the LOAC. Though it was perfectly working in the Hab, it did not give any result on the outside. After a small check, the team realized the alimentation was broken, and that they had to bring back the LOAC to the station to fix it. The second instrument, Gabriel’s MegaARES, took almost 2 hours to the team to be placed. Gabriel had indeed some issues with his helmet, which started to be covered by fog: he was blinded, and had thus to give instructions to the others members of the EVA team, which was not an easy thing to do.

The team learned that some tasks which were usually easy became nearly impossible wearing a spacesuit: to tighten a lonely screw took the team over half an hour, yet they finally succeeded with the help of a perfect teamwork. At the same time in the Hab, Louis wanted to follow Victoria’s example in baking new bread. However, he realized later that he did not put the ingredients in good quantities (especially because of American cooking units, which Louis was not happy to be forced to use).

After the team got back in the station, Jérémy was happy to find 3 red cherry tomatoes in the GreenHab : our first fresh products from there. Those were not really large (especially the one we named Victoria), yet it did not reduce our satisfaction. The afternoon was slower: Benoît learned to play French game “coinche”, but he and Jérémy lost nonetheless in a large way against Louis and Victoria. As we reached the middle of the afternoon, Louis’ bread was finally ready. Yet, even though it looked at first more like a Martian rock than like a French baguette, it was quite comestible after all. It was then time for Gabriel and Jérémy to launch their human factors experiments. However, they suffered some software issues, and so were not able to make their first tries today: these will so normally begin tomorrow.

Alexandre Martin, Crew 189 Journalist

Sol 1 : A first step on Mars

February 19, 2017

SOL 1 : A first step on Mars

Journalist report,

Our first evening at the Hab had been festive: Victoria had baked a cake for Louis’ birthday, which occurred a couple days earlier, but which we did not have the time to celebrate. Our two commanders then organized a table tour, letting each one describe what he expected from the mission, what he wished to do here and what he was afraid of. After this long discussion, it was time to go to sleep, except for Louis, who still had to prepare the physical exercises for the next morning.

And these were hard exercises: so hard indeed that Laurent began to feel sick in the middle of the crunchs, and that Gabriel would certainly have vomited if his stomach was not empty, as we even did not take our breakfast yet! While the crew had begun to feel knock-out, breakfast was finally welcomed after such energy usage. Put back in shape, the crew was now able to end the preparation of experiments on the morning, before the first EVA which would occur in the afternoon.

Laurent, Jérémy, Commander Louis and I were the ones to leave the Hab on the afternoon. The EVA had two main purposes: to explore the surroundings of the station, and to find perfect places where we could place Jérémy and Gabriel experiments, as these needed special weather conditions. After having put on our spacesuits, radios and helmets, it was time to say good bye to Victoria, Gabriel and Benoît, and to enter the pressurisation airlock. 3 minutes later we could open the door, and finally discover the Martian landscape. I went down the stairs, and had the luck to be the first one to make a step on this land.

After having accomplished some minor tasks around the Hab, we could ride the rovers to a further land. We stopped at different points along the road, in order to find out the right places to put the measurement instruments for the diverse experiments, and also a mushroom-like rock to show our support to our fellow students of ISAE-SUPAERO which were selected to participate to famous French show “Questions pour un champion”. On the last part of the EVA, we chose to climb up the plateau over the base, in order to get a better view of the base region. And what a view it was, even though I almost lost one of my lungs to get there! As Jeremy took some last pictures, Louis started to struggle finding a way down, and we took a bit more time going back to the rovers.

The EVA was near its end, and we went back to the Hab, freezing cold on our rovers because of the wind. We went back to the airlock, waited for the pressurisation, and could finally come into the Hab, and put off our wet suits. One thing for sure, sleep would not be hard to find after such a tiring day!

Alexandre Martin, Crew 189 Journalist.

Sol 0 : Last moments on earth

February 17 and 18, 2018

SOL 0 – Crew 189 : Last moments on earth

Journalist report,

Louis had been the last to join us at Grand Junction, picked up by Gabriel, glad of his time of arrival. The mission was finally on its way! After a final brunch at the hotel, Victoria made a stock of bananas (which would be over even before we could see the Hab), it was time to leave civilization! The target: Hanksville, in the deepest paths of the Utah desert.

A journey not so comfortable at last, especially for Laurent, who carried the large MegaARES instrument that Gabriel left him. Nonetheless the road met its end, and we were getting deeper in the desert, towards the Hab. A few turns between giant red rocks later, we finally were able to see the station, among its little brothers, the laboratory, the GreenHab and the observatory. To welcome us, no previous crew was present contrary to the usual, but new stairs were being done, which will reduce falling risks and avoid injuries. It was then time for Shannon’s first briefing, completed with some advices from Attila the Peruvian, yet hard to understand because of Jack the dog, which seems to be into his teenager crisis.
Following a small cleaning session imposed by Victoria, it was now time for all of us to choose our rooms. Well, except for Gabriel, who inherited of the small bed under the celling, in order to take care of the hydraulic pump. A small rover/ATV trip later and we were taking our first meal in the station! A meal which finally revealed to be quite tasty: lyophilised ingredients are not so terrible. However, the crew started to feel really tired and everyone went to sleep to prepare the last pre-mission day!

A sleeping night which was short for Benoît and Louis, who had to bring back the location car to Grand Junction: it is an early morning for them! A few hours later, the remaining members of the crew tasted their first Martian breakfast with powdered orange juice and pancakes … powdered pancakes. The morning is used to put in place experiments which will be completed during the whole 3 weeks, and to finish some secondary tasks, like patch sewing, realized by Victoria, myself and Benoît for diverse results …

As both drivers came back from their journey and everyone filled their stomach, it was the time to take crew pictures! Despite some difficulties (one dog which repeatedly entered the field of view, and a tragic fall of the camera on the ground), photos were nonetheless satisfying. A last rover/ATV trip was organized, which proved to be quite hard due to continuous strong blowing winds and small dust storms that came with it, leading some members of the crew (especially Gabriel) to steal the look of a grandmother with his bandana.

The fatidic hour was near: while Shannon gave us her last advices, we prepared ourselves to the closing of the Hab door. Here begins 3 weeks without seeing the Sun without the helmet. As Shannon wished us good luck and left us, Gabriel finally grabbed the door handle to close the main door. After a few videos and pictures were taken by Jeremy, it was at last time to start the simulation.
6.05pm: the Hab door is closed, here begins the mission