Mars 2016

6 Mars 2016

SOL 13 : Crew 164 and 165



MDRS 164/165 Journalist Report 04/03/2016

Sol 13-164 0-165. 

« Hi ! You are on Camille’s voicemail. I am not the responsible journalist anymore. Sorry guys, I am now -or soon to be- in vacation in the Bahamas smoking cigars and drinking cocktails for I have been unable to do so for the last two weeks. No more journalist reports to write, no more backpacks that need repair, no more Arthur’s cooking, no more problems to deal with. I will let Tomoya, the new NJ (1) deal with it. See You ! »

Just kidding. That was one of the best experiment of my life, and it was a great honor covering it as crew journalist. I will really miss it, and even if the handover between crews 164 and 165 is under way, I will never forget the past two weeks and I will stay involved in the French Chapter of the Mars Society. Thanks to all of you for your support and your reading, once again that was amazing. Good luck Crew 165 and Tomoya : Per Ardua, Ad Astra ! 

(1) Nice Journalist

Camille Gontier, Crew Journalist MDRS 164 

Merci beaucoup, Camille. Ok now that our French NJ is gone, please welcome Tomoya Mori, your new NJ for the next two weeks. Our crew members have come from a long way. Our commander, Pamela is from the Netherlands, although studies have shown that she is actually from Canada. Our HSO, Ryoko, Green Hab Officer, Masashi, and our Astronomer/Engineer, Eriko, all came from Japan. Our Executive Officer, Ken, is from Utah, or shall we say, the Martian. And the crew journalist, myself, is from the largest state in the country: Rhode Island. 

After several delayed flights, missed flights and lost items, we have finally made our way to Mars — to be greeted by the wonderful crew 164 who were kindly enough to cook the traditional French dish: Pizza. I guess we will finish our day with an incredibly international party on Mars, play some games, watch movies and chillax for the night. A long day awaits us tomorrow.

Tomoya Mori, Crew Journalist MDRS 165

5 Mars 2016

SOL 12 – Crew 164: Last day

Final Commander Summary Report

Mehdi Scoubeau




Crew 164, the MDRS Supaero Crew is comprised of six students from ISAE-Supaero, a leading French Aerospace Engineering school in France. Mohammad Iranmanesh and Mehdi Scoubeau, former Crew 151 members gathered a team with people of complementary skills among the students of the school and these are: Camille Gontier, Jérémy Rabineau, Louis Maller and Arthur Lillo. Together, they worked on many and varied experiments in Technologies, Human Factors, Earth Sciences, Astronomy… in a simulated Martian base that they helped keep in a good shape.


Our Experiments:

During twelve days filled with more than fourteen EVAs, the crew worked on different experiments both inside and outside the Hab. These scientific projects were prepared during one year by the students of the team and their colleagues at the ISAE-Supaero Engineering School in France. Almost all the fields were covered: technologies, exploration, earth science, human factors, astronomy… Camille Gontier recorded his mind wandering during activities inside and outside the Hab; Jérémy Rabineau tested a health and meal tracking app that will soon be sent to the ISS; Mohammad Iranmanesh implemented an enhanced payload on a Cliff Reconnaissance Vehicle; Louis Maller managed to improve the EVA experience thanks to AR glasses; Arthur Lillo observed several objects of the Stellar Evolution Observing Program; and Mehdi Scoubeau took measurement to deduce the opacity of the atmosphere with a homemade LED photometer. More information on each of those experimentations can be found in the End-of-Mission Summary.


Other People Projects:

It is also very interesting to work on somebody else experiment in order to see if her/his protocol can be easily followed by scientist minds. In that context, the crew worked on two outside projects. Firstly they served as guinea pig for a geology experiment proposed by Heidi Beemer. The geologist apprentices of the crew did a very good job following the procedures and gathering relevant data.

Secondly, the crew used the NorCal rover to drive around the Hab and assist the astronauts on EVA from the inside. Some range tests were also conducted and these showed the need for a wifi repeater.

In both cases, only a few email exchanges with the principal investigators were needed to fully understand the use and procedures.


Engineering and Repairs:

During its rotation, the crew noticed a broken plastic part in the loft water pump. With CapCom authorization, they designed a similar piece using CAO and printed it with the 3D printer inside the Hab. The repair was a success and a first at MDRS. The water pump is now functioning well with a 3D printed part that will last longer since it is even more resistant.

Also, being a crew full of engineers, the crew could not resist fixing and improving three helmets and repairing two malfunctioning backpack, enabling more people to go on EVA.


EVA Procedures Discussions:

Some discussions on the EVA security and time management lead the crew to re-precise several of the protocols and raised the question if an EVA procedures manual on which everybody agrees beforehand and that ensures the safety AND efficiency of every outside activities should be introduced. Anyway, those talks will enable the junior crewmembers to better prepare next year mission.


Media and Education Outreach:

Crew 164 had a quite impressive impact in the French media. Before the departure of the mission, the crewmembers appeared in five different TV and radio news channels and a dozen of newspapers. During the mission, a reporter from Canal+, a leading French channel came to the MDRS to film a documentary on the MDRS Supaéro Crew. Lastly, the crew is expecting several interviews when they will come back to Earth.

Moreover, during the rotation, a lecture on Mars Analogue Missions was held by Association Planète Mars (the French Chapter of the Mars Society) at the ISAE-Supaéro in front of wide audience of interested students.

4 Mars 2016

SOL 11 – Crew 164

MDRS 164 Journalist Report 03/03/2016

Sol 11. Tomorrow will be our last sol of simulation – and we just can’t wait to go back to the MDRS ! 

We are proud to be all from the same engineering school – Supaéro, in France, the National Institute For Aeronautics and Space – and we did our best to prove our worth and the quality of our school. Based in Toulouse, Supaéro is now the leading engineering school in France for aeronautics and space professions. Not only is graduating from this university a great honor, but is also a first step toward a dream career in space engineering. Since 1909, thousands of future scientists, innovators, astronauts and space agencies officials have been studying there.

But so far, we met no analog astronauts ! We decided to fill this gap two years ago, and to apply all together for a first MDRS rotation. Only two of us finally had to opportunity to leave for Utah, as no Supaéro crew had previously worked with the Mars Society. Thanks to the great success achieved by MDRS 151, we had the honor to be selected again this year as a whole crew.

And we now aim at having a Supaéro crew rotation for each MDRS season. Next year’s crew has already been selected among freshmen, they are ready to apply for a rotation in 2017 and we hope they will keep on improving our experiments. We really would like to stay longer in the Hab, to reach all our scientific goals ; but we will have to rely on next year’s crew to keep doing science. But we have to make way for them : we still have one more day of science in front of us. Per Ardua, Ad Astra !

Camille Gontier, Crew Journalist MDRS 164


3 Mars 2016

SOL 10 – Crew 164

MDRS 164 Journalist Report 02/03/2016

Sol 10. Today was « space for the eyes » day. Two sols before the end of the simulation, we put science apart for a few moments and took a little part the day for ourselves :

– We woke up at 4 a.m. to observe the late night sky at the Musk Observatory. We had previously observed Jupiter and Orion, but Saturn, Mars and the Moon only raise late at night. The sky was as beautiful as before, showing details unimaginable to people that never left the big city and letting us amazed for a long time before we started to feel sleepiness.

– Once again, morning EVA was dedicated to exploration of the area East from the Hab, and after having driven a full loop to North Pinto Hills yesterday, we finally made it to Candor Chasma and Stacy’s Cake, a canyon previously explored during MDRS 151 and nicknamed by Association Planète Mars. The view was breathtaking, and we spent a long time exploring it -for geology purpose, of course.

– We spent the beginning of the afternoon hanging our national flags on the hooks near the main airlock and posing in front of them wearing our fancy space suits. There is no harm in doing a little Public Relation ! (and by « public relation », I mean having girls liking our pictures on Facebook).

But we did not forget to do a little science (recordings during the EVA and repair of backpacks) today. Science should be both pleasant and useful. I think that what perfectly synthesize what space science should be is the motto of the CNES, the French space agency : « De l’espace pour la Terre » (« Space for Earth »). Space engineering is not only about sending rockets and satellites in the sky, but also about developing useful technologies to be used on Earth. We have our heads in the sky, but our feet remain on the solid ground !

Camille Gontier, Crew Journalist MDRS 164

3 Mars 2016

SOL 9 – Crew 164

MDRS 164 Journalist Report 01/03/2016

Sol 9. In a few hours, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly will be back on Earth after his year-long mission onboard the International Space Station. And in a few sols, we will also be back on Earth. Even though we still have three sols of simulation in front of us, we are already starting to anticipate our trip back to Europe and the return to our daily routine. In a few weeks, Mehdi will have stopped complaining about the bad food in the station and started an intensive currywurst care (as well as a world saving but top secret internship) in Darmstadt, Germany ; Mohammad will be back to business, wandering in the Jardin du Luxembourg of Paris ; Jérémy will add a new line to his resume and a new stamp to his passport at the University of Stockholm ; Louis will follow in the footsteps of Gagarin and Korolev around the Red Square ; Arthur will preserve the tradition of aerospace excellence of Toulouse wearing his uniform on the Place du Capitole ; and I will go back to my laboratory in Switzerland and to the beautiful shores of the Léman Lake.

(Just a small comment regarding my internship in Switzerland : it will end next July. If someone working in the space industry is reading this : I IS KIND. I IS SMART. I IS NOT BURN DOWN THE HAB. PLEASE HIRE ME.)

The best part of space travel is probably going back on Earth. Not because the space station is not comfy enough, but because space travel makes Earth feel different. More beautiful as before. Full of new opportunities : seeing it from above makes it look so small, fragile, but totally explorable in the same time. In three sols, we will leave the Hab full of memories and stories to tell, and ready to keep on exploring space during our next mission. Per Ardua, Ad Astra !

PS : Houston, we have a problem. Backpack n°1 is now working fine, but a new terrible technical problem appeared in the station : the frying pan we used in the morning for our pancakes is now terribly sticky, leaving small pieces of burned carbon in stead of a delicious breakfast. Mission support, you are our only hope.

Camille Gontier, Crew Journalist MDRS 164 

1 Mars 2016

SOL 8 – Crew 164

MDRS 164 Journalist Report 29/02/2016

Sol 8. Short news from the Hab :

– Jérémy, our HSO, started tracking our weights one week ago. Every
morning, between our seven-minute workout and breakfast, we step on
the scale and have our weights recorded. According to the figures, we
all lost some weights, except for Louis, who gained 1kg in one week
and who, as crew engineer, often gets up in the middle of the night in
order to, according to him, « fill the loft tank ». In the meantime,
our chocolate and peanut butter reserve are all gone. Coincidence ? I
don’t think so.

– Morale and cohesion among crew members is still extremely good. In
order to gain productivity and to work more efficiently together, they
all allied against me. I think that having written in yesterday’s
report that I was cooking pizza with them while I was actually
watching them work from the comfort of my chair was not very clever.
But the usefulness of having a scapegoat in a space crew will probably
be the topic of my next scientific paper.

– We should add a letter to Jeremy’s title : indeed, we desperately
need a MHSO (MENTAL Health and Safety Officer). Mohammad is emitting
strange noises all day long with his fingers and his lips. Are
isolation and workload to blame ? I mostly think of Louis’ music
playlist. Please, someone needs to tell him Cindy Lauper and Bon Jovi
are not in the billboard anymore.

Camille Gontier, Crew Journalist MDRS 164