Mars 160 is a unique mission that combines and compares both desert and arctic Mars analogs as field test environments for Mars mission operations research. The Mars Society has opened up this vital field of research, which is now expanding worldwide. With this mission by an outstanding crew drawn from four continents, we will advance it substantially. On to Mars!
Written by Jon Clarke
Sol 4 (or 84)
The weather on the fourth sol of the second half of the Mars 160 mission improved slightly today, but not by much. Almost no rain, but wind gusts estimated by our experience weather observers as being up to 80 kph.
Inside the hab we have our own weather system. The lower deck is much colder than the upper deck, and we even have “rain”. Condensation drips from the ceiling and runs down to walls. We are hoping for drier weather inside and outside.
In the morning Anushree, Anastasiya, and Yusuke fetched water and the in afternoon Alex, Paul, and Yusuke did an out of sim EVA across the crater bottom. In our view the conditions were too windy to allow people to walk safely while wearing the suits. They walked over 5.4 km and successful scouted further into the crater. The interior of the crater is still very wet, only the creek beds appear to provide potential quad bike access at present. While on their EVA the team took the opportunity to obtain 3-D images of polygon features.
Inside the hab we monitored the progress of the EVA team over the radio and visually through the telephoto lens. Radio communications quality is excellent, much better than at MDRS, irrespective of whether the EVA teams are in view or hidden behind ridges or in creek beds.
Hopefully the wind will drop tomorrow, and we can return to suited EVAs. Either way our plan is to do geological scouting. Would this be an issue on Mars? Probably not. While martian winds can be strong, their force is relatively low because of the very low atmospheric density. So impact on martian EVAs should be small.
Written by Jon Clarke
Sol 3 (or 83)
Very wet on Mars today. The terraforming program must be going well! However, things are improving. There are patches of sunlight on the farther crater wall this evening and, if the weather does not worsen, we should at least be able to go out of sim scouting EVAs. It’s too wet to do a safe EVA in sim and because of the rain and wind we have decided to bring forward our scheduled rest day, supposed to be for tomorrow, forward by one day. This way we don’t lose any planned work days. Due to the humidity it’s raining inside the hab as well as outside! We can here the wind howling outside and whining through the mast and guy ropes? It’s so windy that, as we say in Australia, a chook would lay the same egg three times…
So what have we done on our day off? We have read, worked on our own research, chatted, Anastasiya baked bread, Anushree cooked beans and rice, we also watched and discussed my presentation about Meridiani Planum as a potential first crewed landing site on Mars. Tonight, after washing up, debriefing, and finishing our comms session, we plan to watch a video.
Despite being hab bound and slightly damp round the edges, we are happy and active here at FMARS. But we are looking forward to the resumption of our field program tomorrow (we hope!).
Written by Jon Clarke
Sol 2 (or 82)
The weather has not been great to day. It remains cloudy and we had a little rain over night, although not enough to make a difference. The wind has picked up, and is nicely blowing the Mars flag out when we look out the window. While not particular cold, the wind chill is noticeable.
Anushree and Yusuke collected water for us today. We are currently using about 14L per person for day. Anastasiya and I did a pedestrian EVA today with Alex riding shotgun. We walked a total of 4.21 km, exploring the hab ridge to the south west for three purposes: 1) potential sites to sample limestone bedrock for my facies study, 3) patterned ground of interest to Paul, biological features of interest to Anushree, and sites for operation research for our PI Shannon Rupert. We also sampled different lichen form species we observed Paul Sokoloff at the Canadian Museum of Nature. We were able to garner useful data in all fields.
Paul Knightly cooked dinner tonight, spaghetti and freeze dried beef and kebab casserole. Very filling after four hours of EVA! Several people are showering tonight. And remerging as new people. Tonight will also be our twice weekly viewing of Season 2 of the SF TV series The Expanse.
Tomorrow we have a further EVA planned to revisit yesterday’s sites. This will be dependent on the weather of course, which is predicted to worsen slightly. We will see!
Written by Alexandre Mangeot
One EVA today. Anastasiya and Jon have been to the southern part of the crater ridge (2km radius, 4.2km walked). I was carrying the shotgun.
We have decided that the person that carries the gun is a simulated remotely operated robot with pictures and limited sampling and communication capabilities.
Written by Jon Clarke
Sol 1 (or 81)
Today we started the simulation part of the Arctic phase of the Mars 160 mission. This is an especially appropriate day to start as July 20th in Space Day in the US. It commemorates the Apollo 11 landing on the Moon in 1969 and the Viking 1 landing on Mars in 1976. It’s more informal than Yuri’s night in April but a great pair of occasions to celebrate all the same.
The weather is very still and mild, and, for the first time since we have been here, it is cloudy. The crew did its first EVA, Anushree and Paul carrying out a pedestrian EVA features below the rim of Haughton crater near the hab, Anushree examining features of biological interest and Paul checking the installations set out yesterday. Alex rode shotgun. Photos from the EVA feature below. We also raised the Mars Society flag, red, green, and blue, to celebrate Space Day.
The rest of us worked on engineering matters in the hab and wrote up reports, and collected operation and human factors data. We also helped the EVA team for their excursion, and provided comms support while they were outside.
Tonight Yusuke is preparing his famous spam sushi, familiar from the first part of the Mars 160 mission. We have settled back into the routine with familiar crewmates who are now well established friends building on memories and patterns build while at MDRS in Utah on the first phase of the mission.
Written by Anastasia Stepanova
The Beginning of the End
Hello there from the crew Mars 160! Many of you have been following our trip to Mars here on Earth, but for those who read it for the first time, here is the story. In 2013 Mars Society announced the call for volunteers for one year Mars Analogue mission at Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station. In 2014 three teams of six and seven people were chosen to spend two weeks at Mars Desert Research Station in Utah. In 2015 based on two weeks isolation experience seven lucky future Martians were chosen. But as time passed and conditions changed Mars Society decided to make the mission even more unique and transformed one year simulation into twin missions: 80 days on hot desert of Utah and 80 days in cold desert of Arctic. In the fall of 2016, the Mars 160 crew started the three month Mars analogue mission at Mars Desert Research Station in Utah. Those 80 days passed fast and slow at the same time changed every crewmember in its own way. They were full of joy, hard work, discoveries, pleasant routine and
sometimes struggles. We became one big Martian family! After a five month break back in our home countries, we gathered together again for
one last mission in July 2017! Now it supposed to be 60 days at Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station at Devon Island, Canada. Due to
weather conditions, the crew waited at Resolute (the closest outpost of civilization to Devon Island) for almost a month. Today, when in
USA it is Space day, we are starting our final stage of Mars 160 simulation. The Mars 160 crew consist of:
And let me introduce myself, as I will be your ears, eyes and soul of this journey to Mars: Anastasia Stepanova – crew journalist (Russia).
It is easy to be confused, but not all crew members participated in both simulations. Right now, here on Arctic Mars, you will see six space wanderers Alexandre, Yusuke, Jon, Paul, Anushree, and Anastasia.
We are happy to start our journey but sad to realize that it is the beginning of the end.
Written by Alex
First day in Sim, first EVA.
Paul and Anushree went by foot into the crater. Investigating the water flows on the slope of the crater. Paul did some soil measurements (pH and EC) upstream of his probes, while Anushree took samples. I was carrying the gun and taking pictures of them.
As of now, we do not have a short term plan for EVAs. We work 100% on making the Hab habitable, and then suddenly we are in Sim doing EVAs. At some point we will need to sit a think about what we should do. That will be passed to the crew this evening on the debrief.
Aside of that, the morale is good. I feel the crew a bit tired, but less and less as the days pass.We are done settling, we are now exploring!
Written by Alex
Yesterday we spilled some oil into the engineering airlock when we changed the oil of the generator sitting there. We cleaned the spill but a stain remains.
We still have not figured it out why 4 staterooms do not have power. But the issue has been reported to Joe. We hope a reply and a solution from him in the coming days.
Five trash bags have been burnt today. We have gained a substantial space in the Hab. But we still have spoiled food cans that we cannot be burnt.
Written by Jon Clarke
Today is our last day getting the FMARS hab shipshape for our mission. We have been doing tasks like fetching water, using the incinerator, getting the pumps and power as operational as possible, and finishing tidying away.
Paul and I spent several hours installing his data loggers in the patterned ground just below the hab, perched on the rim of Haughton impact crater. These features make the small scale landscape a good analogue for the martian Arctic as seen by the Phoenix lander. We dug trenches down to permafrost, which was less than 50 cm down. We also examined the melt water flowing across the ground from the remnant snow packs and other landforms typical of the Arctic landscape, some of which are also found on Mars.
Tomorrow we go into simulation mode. So today we started the sim, doing EVAs in suits and going outside without suits only for essential engineering tasks otherwise – collecting water, burning rubbish, starting the generator. In addition each EVA team is escorted by someone not in a suit carrying a shotgun, in case of bears.
Continuing its leadership in high-level Mars analog research, the Mars Society is pleased to announce that the second half of its Mars 160 mission has officially begun with the arrival of a six-person crew this weekend at the organization’s Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station (FMARS), located on Devon Island in northern Canada.
Mars 160 is a unique two-part mission involving a sustained program of advanced field exploration and testing in Mars-like terrain, initially in a desert setting at the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah last year and now in an Arctic environment at FMARS, operating under many of the same constraints that human explorers on the Red Planet would face. The dual program is intended to carry out nearly identical field analog research in order to determine how mission location affects science return.
During its Canada-based simulation, the crew will carry out a wide variety of specific Mars-relevant research, focusing on areas such as geology, microbial and lichen ecology, science field protocols and small group function in isolated environment research.
Located on the rim of an approximately 40-million year old impact crater in a truly Mars-like arctic environment, FMARS will serve as home to a multi-national crew of six veteran researchers and science professionals:
The mission’s second phase is being coordinated by two principal investigators: Dr. Shannon Rupert, Director of the Mars Desert Research Station program, and Paul Sokoloff, Senior Researcher at the Canadian Museum of Nature.
“Mars 160 is a unique mission that combines and compares both desert and Arctic Mars analogs as field test environments for Mars mission operations research. The Mars Society has opened up this vital field of research, which is now expanding worldwide. With this mission by an outstanding crew drawn from four continents, we will advance it substantially. On to Mars,” said Mars Society President Dr. Robert Zubrin.
For daily updates and photos about the Mars 160 mission, please visit our Mars Society web site (www.marssociety.org). Also a full review of the Mars 160 mission will be presented at the 20th Annual International Mars Society Convention, scheduled for September 7-10 at the University of California Irvine.