The Mars 160 Mission continues this summer at the FMARS

Follow our crew as they develop the knowledge that will prove critical for human safety and productivity on the surface of Mars.

  • 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!  

    Dr. Robert Zubrin President, The Mars Society

Mission Updates

Mars160 FMARS Final Mission Report

Hello from Mars,

 

火星からこんにちは (Kasei kara konnichiwa),

Привет с Марса (Privet s Marsa),

मंगल ग्रह से नमस्ते (Mangal grah se Namaste),

Salutations Martiennes,

 

 

This is the final expedition of the Mars 160 program. We are 6 people living in the F-MARS, in the High Arctic, far from home. Over here we can only rely on ourselves. The nearest city is Resolute Bay, 1 hour of flight from the station.

We have this unique opportunity to sojourn in one of the greatest Mars analog environment on Earth! Mars atmosphere is quite cold and Polar climate is similar. Patterned ground features, characteristic of the permafrost, are observed here and there. On Mars, you would find impact craters in various size and age. Haughton crater is 15 km in diameter and 39 million years old. The station sit on its edge. However, unlike Mars, this place is populated by living extremophile organisms. But some of them could be the key to the survival of the first Mars settlers or to find past life on this planet!

Our goal is to experience some of the remoteness of Mars to learn how to conduct field science operation in such conditions. The scientific investigations are diverse and ambitious.

Life


30 days in Arctic felt like 80 days in Utah desert. Time stretched here and we are adjusting to the environment, just as the humans will do on Mars. By looking at the landscape, almost nothing reminds us of Earth. No signs of any civilization. No signs of life. Just as it will be on Mars. FMARS station showed us vividly how it would feel like to live and work in the alien world.

Resources are also more limited here than at MDRS, especially power. This imposes a limit on what we do and when we do it. To conserve fuel, the generator is ran 9 hours a day, with gaps up to two hours. When the generator is off, there is no heater, no comms, no cooking. Hopefully we all have laptops that can ran for few hours on the battery, allowing us to keep working. During comms windows, Internet is our only regular way to communicate. Satellite based communication imposes new constraints on how we use it. The bandwidth of few kB/s and the latency rarely below few seconds, if not losing the satellite signal, does not allow us for much more than emailing with the remote team and our relatives.

Unlike the MDRS journeys, we are self-sufficient regarding the water supply which is fetched from a river few hundred meters down the hill. However, we arrived at the station with the food we would get for the entire mission. As the end of the expedition approaches we have seen our food supplies shrinking. Even with safety margin, it is a strange feeling to have noticed that we are actually limited in food supply. This is not something we usually experienced in our regular life. Therefore, we are taking care that nothing got wasted!

The Arctic is a much more extreme environment than Utah. Our operations have to be much more autonomous and self-sufficient on a day to day basis. Communications are more limited, requiring independence of thought and action. This is not a bad thing, with a crew of competent, motivated people this is actually liberating. It does, however, mean that more time must be spent on basic Hab tasks, underlying the importance of automation to crewed missions to Mars and elsewhere. Being in an extreme environment means that safety considerations come first. There is a greater awareness when we are on EVA of distance from the Hab and the instability of the weather.

After this expedition got delayed by more than 3 weeks due to bad weather and ground conditions that prevented us to land on schedule, the mission objectives had to be redefined under the new time constraints. Therefore, no engineering project is conducted during this expedition. The unique features of the field gives priority to the field science activities over all the rest. That is why we have directed all our efforts to fulfill as many field science objectives as we can.

 

Geology


The month at FMARS has been a very valuable experience for us in that it has better equipped us to assess previous Mars analogue research at Haughton crater and provided an opportunity for our own investigations.

Part of what makes FMARS an ideal Mars analog facility is its location in a periglacial environment along the rim of an ancient impact crater. This is a rare setting to have on Earth, but it is repeated planet-wide on Mars. Based on observations by the Phoenix mission in 2008, the role of water ice permafrost in the formation of periglacial features on Mars was confirmed making many periglacial processes on Earth a direct analog for Mars. This provides an opportunity to study some of the younger geological processes that are active on Mars today, right here on Earth.

One periglacial feature that is common between Mars and Earth is patterned ground. Formed as a result of expansion and contraction from freezing and melting permafrost, over time this process etches patterns into the ground ranging from a few meters to several tens of meters across. When comparing satellite images of the patterned ground in Haughton Crater to patterned ground on Mars, it is easy to see why these are such intriguing subjects to study near FMARS.

 

 

Over the course of Mars 160, dozens of samples have been collected from a variety of patterned ground types that once analyzed in a laboratory setting back on Earth will shed new insights into how these landforms evolve. By performing most of these field tasks in-sim as weather conditions allowed, it also provided insight into how a crewed mission might investigate similar features on Mars in the future. The results from this investigation will ultimately be submitted for peer-review in an applicable professional journal.

We have been able to collect extensive imagery of the Devon Island landscape that will enable me to refine the regolith landscape mapping methodologies previously developed for cold climate landscapes. Especially valuable have been the landscape features poorly expressed at previous study sites, such as different types of polygons, and a greater appreciation of role of near-surface hydrology in Arctic landscapes.

The bedrock geology of the rim of Haughton crater near the FMARS station is composed on the Allen Bay Formation. Two main facies (rock types with similar characteristics) are present, a dark brown dolostone and a white dolostone. The dark brown facies is rich in megafossil remains, especially of sponges (stromatoporoids), corals (tabulate and both colonial and solitary rugose), and molluscs, most prominently straight nautiloid cephalopods. This facieses commonly intensely bioturbated and may be thrombolitic (a microbial structure with a clotted fabric). The white facies is dominated by laminated and often stromatolitic dolostones, mudcacks and ripples have been rarely seen. Studying these rocks has been made difficult by the lack of coherent outcrop. However, the outcrops present do enable the context of the abundant displaced blocks to be placed in context.

 

We have also taken the opportunity to familiarize ourselves with impact related features of the Haughton crater. These have included the distinctive grey-coloured polymict melt sheets containing many different rock types, the monomict breccias consisting of fractured bedrock more or less in places with numerous shatter cones, and the polymict ejecta rocks. These impact-related rock types are common on the Moon and Mars, but rare on Earth, where craters are rapidly (geologically speaking) destroyed by erosion or hidden by burial. Here these rocks are widely distributed on the walls and across the floor of Haughton crater.

 

Biology


Biological exploration here at FMARS involves an array of themes, from documenting the Arctic flora to investigating biosignatures in ancient evaporite rocks. To test the efficiency of science operations on Mars, our scientific work is supported by Earth-based scientists.

Hydrothermal sulfate deposits from the Impact supersite which is located near the middle of the Haughton crater have been sampled to investigate any viable or fossilized signatures of life originated and thrived during impact-induced hydrothermal event in the past. These gypsum-bearing evaporites from outcrops belong to the mid-Ordovician Bay Fiord Formation (39 mya). In the Bay Fiord Formation the gypsum was deposited through evaporation of seawater. Elsewhere in the crater gypsum is known to have formed as a result of the impact driven hydrothermal activity. Both the processes are considered to be analogous to the sulfate precipitation from the low-temperature aqueous fluid on Mars. So, any microbial life that was present in the brine could have found refuge in tiny fluid-inclusions of the gypsum crystals in the past or potentially left their marks in the depository layers while degradation. Hence, it is fascinating to explore the idea of preservation of biomarkers in evaporite rocks.

The abundance, and ecology of hypoliths and epiliths colonised on limestone in the Arctic are being documented. As well as, we intend to perform comparative genomic analysis on these hardy microbial communities. Identification and characterization of black epiliths, which are commonly seen to be growing on the melt water streaks that we call Recurrent Slope Lineae is also conducted. By studying these lithobionts – rock dwelling organisms – we are trying to understand the effect of moisture on the extent of colonization both in Polar (Arctic) and hot desert (Utah). So, this mission gives us an ideal opportunity to explore these microbial communities in two disparate environments, thereby, would provide an important baseline in this domain and help us anticipate “exophiles” in unanticipated niches of Mars.

 

 

Mapping and surveying of lichen biodiversity, Arctic vesicular plants, and molecular analysis of Arctic Diatoms are being studied as well. Studying lichen biodiversity is important for this mission for two reasons. First, Lichen that form an intimate symbiosis with two very different species fungi (mycobionts) and algae (photobionts) and resistant enough to survive extremely low temperatures, high bombardment of ultra violet radiation for a long period of time and show excellent physiological adaptation in Mars-like conditions. So, they can serve as tools for understanding life in extreme environments. Second, for the operational advantage in full simulation suit we dedicate some our EVAs to sample lichen that are evident and easiest to find organisms. It is also about how we perform field science in spacesuit!

 

In the extreme Polar environment, vascular plants are thought to flower at specific time in response to lack of nutrients, low moisture and scarcity of pollinators to maximize the reproductive advantage. It is also thought that specific flowering time (phenology) is associated with microbial activity in the root zone of these plants. We want to assess how this association between root microbiom and plant phenology works, which can help us understanding the extreme survivability of Arctic plants, and possibly adaptation of crop plants for Mars.

Science support and group dynamic studies


360° pictures have been taken in a square mesh pattern. Different distance between each points have been tested: 20, 50 and 100 meters. All of scenery points are navigated by GPS. The procedure at each documented point takes up to 2 minutes during a full simulated EVA of 2 to 3 hours. After the mission, it is intended to reconstruct the landscape with the 360° data in order to support the patterned ground study.

A stereograph kit has been designed prior to the mission and been used on the field during suited EVA to capture stereo anaglyph images (red and blue stereo images). The kit was designed thanks to the prior mission at the MDRS. It is compact and light weight to be carried easily during suited EVA. In addition, it is user friendly for anyone to do stereograph pictures. Finally, the main feature may be the very short time – around 3 seconds – required to take the two pictures. The delay between the shots is critical for the quality of the stereo anaglyph images. The field test involve recreating Phoenix lander anaglyph pictures of similar ground features. The height and the distance between the two pictures have been taken from the lander characteristics.

More 360° pictures and 3D scanning measurements have been taken inside the Hab to later on build VR views of the habitat. This will complement the 3D reconstruction of the interior done with CAD software. Lastly, 24 hour time lapse have been taken on the 1st and 2nd floor to understand the flow pattern of the people living inside. This data may help to design better layout of space habitat.

This part of the mission provided us with more interesting data about group cohesion, the influence of isolation and environment on crew behavior. Earth based science team will process the results of eight different tests and compare how the changes of location (from MDRS to FMARS) crew composition affected the psychological pattern of teamwork. This research will provide valuable data for the future Mars analogue missions and help Mars Society in a process of choosing the compatible people for long duration programs.

In order to assess the positive and negative influences of various feature of the mission, the crew is conducting a guided debriefing at regular intervals. This includes individual brainstorming of the main issues experienced by each crewmember, categorized them and finally having a group brainstorming to resolve the most important ones. These session have been found very insightful for crewmembers. Sharing our issues with the whole crew and working all together toward a solution is a crucial activity for building a strong and cohesive team. This is a critical group feature for crews operating under extreme environment such as Mars.

The limited internet access restricted the active outreach work during the simulation. On other side, the isolation helped to concentrate on documenting the mission in narrative genre, which can be compiled into a book. The outreach will be proceeding after the crew comes back to Earth and will be more engaging with the audience.

 


 

The odds have been mostly against us. The delay induced by the bad landing conditions have made us to adapt to the constraints. There was no way around. And since our journey is a one life time opportunity, we learn how to push our boundaries to make the remaining time to be worthwhile. This is not a trivial thing to do and it has not been done without glitches. But at the end of the day, we are in this adventure all together, relying on each other. We face the unexpected events as a crew.

The Mars 160 program and this expedition in particular has been supported by Earth based scientists: Dr Kathy Bywater, NASA Ames Research Center – USA Dr Vincent Chevrier, University of Arkansas, USA – Prof Charles Cockell, University of Edinburgh, UK – Dr Alfonso Davila, NASA Ames Research Centre, USA – Polina Kuznetsova, Institute of Biomedical Problems, Russia – Dr Chris Mckay, NASA Ames Research Centre, USA – Dr Rebecca Merica, University of Nevada, USA – Dr Irene Lia Schlacht, Politechnico di Milano, Italy – Dr Matthew Siegler, Southern Methodist University, USA – Dr Hanna Sizemore, Planetary Science Institute, USA – Dr David Wilson, NASA Ames Research Center, USA.

As Principal Investigators: Dr Shannon Rupert, The Mars Society, USA – Paul Sokoloff, Canadian Museum of Nature, Canada.

As The Mars Society president: Dr Robert Zubrin, USA.

Mars 160 crewmemebers would like to express their sincere gratitude to them:

Thank you!

ありがとう (Aligato),

Спасибо (Spasibo),

धन्यवाद (Dhanyawad),

Merci!

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Science Report – August 14th

ENDEAVOUR CRATER (MARS) AND HAUGHTON CRATER (EARTH): A COMPARISON

Jonathan Clarke

 

Introduction

One of the primary justifications for the location of F-MARS here on Devon Island is the presence of the Haughton impact crater (Zubrin 2004).  This is one of the most studied impact craters on Earth.  Useful summaries can be found in the 2005 issue of Meteoritics and Planetary Science (Volume 40, issue 2), covering geological and astrobiological questions.  A key paper to this is Osinski et al. (2005), and is accompanied by the magnificent geological map of Osinski (2005).  In addition to the field science questions, the location allows exploration questions associated with specific equipment tests (Pletser et al. 2009), human factors (Bishop et al. 2010), and operations (Osinski  et al. 2010) to be addressed.

Figure 1. Shadow of the hab on the rim of Haughton crater

For me, one of the interesting aspects of being here is considering the similarities and differences between Haughton Crater here on Devon Island (Figure 1) and Endeavour crater on Mars .  These are summarised in Table 1. The comparison illustrates the nature of analogue work.  It’s as important for analogue researchers to understand the differences as well as the similarities between the two settings to best understand the results of the work here. Haughton is of particular interest when compared with Endeavour crater on Mars because of the work carried out by the Opportunity rover mission there and because of the potential of Endeavour crater to be a target for future crewed missions (Clarke et al. 2017). This was covered in my first science report.

The two craters have every similar overall diameters, as far as can be determined from subsequent erosion.  Both are about 22 km across, although the visible depression of Haughton crater is somewhat less than this, about 16 km from rim to rim.  The degree of erosion is similar, between 100 and 200m in each case.  However Haughton crater is much shallower, this may be due to the higher gravity of Earth and the weaker target materials, sedimentary rocks rather than basalt.  These two factors change the way the surface of the surface of the target respond to the force of impact.

Table 1: comparison between Haughton and Endeavour craters

FEATURE HAUGHTON ENDEAVOUR
Diameter 23 km 22 km
Current depth 300-350 m 1-2 km
Original depth 500-700 m 1.5-2.2 km
Degree of erosion 100-200 m 100-200 m
Bedrock age Palaeozoic (450 million years) Noachian (>3.8 billion years)
Impact age 39 million (Eocene) Noachian-Hesperian (~3.5 billion years)
Infill age Miocene (27-15 million years Hesperian (<35 million years)

The two craters have not only formed in different materials, but are also of very different age. Haughton crater is very young, only 29 million years old. Endeavour crater is much older, probably about 3.5 billion years old. It is better preserved that Haughton crater because the rates of erosion on Mars are much slower. Endeavour crater has not experienced the erosion by glaciers and rivers that have worn down the landscape of Devon Island.

Figure 2. Digital elevation model (DEM) of Haughton crater showing the disconnected outer rim 23 km across, the central depression 16 km across, and the Haughton River draining to the northeast. Source unknown.

Endeavour crater appears to have been largely filled during the Hesperian by salt lake sediments of the Burns Formation. These deposited sulphate salt and iron oxide rich sediments. The crater is now being exhumed from beneath this cover by wind action. Haughton crater has had less extensive infill. For several million years during the Miocene the crater hosted a lake, the sediments of which record the animals and plants that inhabited Arctic Canada during this time. Haughton crater is presently drained by the Haughton River (Figure 2), that prevents the lake from reforming. Water erosion is the main way in which sediments are currently being removed from the interior of the crater. During the last glacial maximum however, the crater was completely filled by ice to a depth of many hundreds of metres, but erosion was limited because the ice sheet was cold-based, meaning that it was largely frozen to the underlying terrain (Dyke 1999).

Views across the two craters are shown in Figures 3 and 4. I know I have shared these two images before, but they do make a beautiful contrast. One view is from our window here, the other was captured by the Opportunity mission team by their rover. Two craters on two planets, but a common goal.

Figure 3. View across Haughton impact crater from FMARS on Haynes Ridge. Horizon is formed by further crater wall, 16 km distant.

 

Figure 4. View across Endeavour crater, photographed by the Opportunity rover team. Horizon is 20 km distant. Image compiled by James Sorenson.

 

References
Bishop, S., Kobrick R., Battler, M., and Binsted, K. 2010. FMARS 2007: Stress and coping in an arctic Mars simulation. Acta Astronautica 66,1353–1367.
Clarke, J. D. A., Willson, D., Smith, H., Hobbs, S. W., and Jones, E. 2017. Southern Meridiani Planum – A candidate landing site for the first crewed mission to Mars. Acta Astronautica 33: 195-220.
Dyke, A. S. 1999. Late Glacial Maximum and the deglaciation of Devon Island, Arctic Canada: support for an Innuitian ice sheet. Quaternary Science Reviews 18, 393-420.
Grant, J. A., Crumpler, L. S., Parker, T. J., Golombek, M. P., Wilson, S. A., and Mittlefehldt, D. W. 2015. Degradation of Endeavour Crater, Mars. Icarus, in press.
Hynek, B.M. and Phillips, R. J. 2008. The stratigraphy of Meridiani Planum, Mars, and implications for the layered deposits’ origin. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 274, 214–220.
Osinski, G. R. 2005. Geological map of the Haughton Impact structure, Devon Island, Nunavut, Canada. Supplement to Meteoritics and Planetary Science 40(12).
Osinski, G. R., Lee, P., Spray, J. G., Parnell, P., Lim, D. S.S., Bunch, T. E., Cockell, C. S., and Glass, B. 2005. Geological overview and cratering model for the Haughton impact structure, Devon Island, Canadian High Arctic. Meteoritics & Planetary Science 40(12), 1759–1776.
Osinski, G. R., Lee, P., Cockell, C. S., Snook, K., Lim, D. S. S., and Braham, S. 2010. Field geology on the Moon: Some lessons learned from the exploration of the Haughton impact structure, Devon Island, Canadian High Arctic. Planetary and Space Science 58, 646–657.
Pletser, V., Lognonne, P., Diament, M., and Dehant,V. 2009. Subsurface water detection on Mars by astronauts using a seismic refraction method: Tests during a manned Mars mission simulation. Acta Astronautica 64, 457–466.
Zubrin, R. 2004. Mars on Earth. J. P. Tacher/Penguin, 351p.

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Daily Summary – August 14th

Daily Report
Jon Clarke

August 14, 2017

Our sim ended last amidst wild weather.  Because the sim is over, I
am calling this a daily report, rather than a sol summary.

It blew hard all night but about midnight the rain stopped and was
replaced by light snow. This had stopped by about 8 am.  The
temperature had dropped to -3 C and the puddles were all frozen.
There was a substantial wind chill went I went outside to start the
generator.

Of course, with the sim over, the sun came out. We are enjoying the
best sun since we went into sim, reminiscent of the sun we had when we
first arrived. However the wind chill is distinctly unfriendly!  Paul
and I went into the crater for the last time to recover his data
loggers.  Mixed feelings, glad that we were successfully completing
out mission, but sad that it was the last time.  Still, I feel
immensely privileged to have had the opportunity to come here.  Thank
you Mars Society!

Busy day today preparing to leave.  Packing bags as much as possible.
Boxing up samples.  Checking the landing grounds for suitability for
landing – all rather soggy. Modifying the ATV trailers to move
the expected delivery of fuel.  Did our last group discussion for
IBMP.  We spent four days setting up for the sim after arriving here
on July 16th, we expect to spend a similar time finishing up at the
end.  On Mars to crews will also spend several days at the start and
end of each mission getting set up and then closing things down.  This
is something of a fixed cost with respect to the time required,
something else that argues for longer rather than shorter stays on
Mars.

Tonight we will celebrate our last night together on Devon Island.  We
will finish watching a doco-drama about Sir Ernest Shackleton’s
“Endurance” expedition to Antarctica.  Hopefully we won’t have as much
trouble leaving the Arctic as he and his crew did the Antarctic!

Jon Clarke

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Journalist Report – August 13th

Anastasiya Stepanova

What we are doing here?

Many of you might think: “Why they have to make all the way to the Arctic, where it is risky, expensive and unreliable? Why not do it the same way as Mars-500, where the station located in the middle of the city, but fully isolated and had a small simulation of Martian surface for a short EVA. Mars 160 mission chose a different path among the mars analogue missions. In our simulation the field science comes first, second is isolation and third operations.

Devon Island and Utah desert have many similarities with Martian geology. Devon has an impact crater, permafrost environment, gypsum deposits and desert climate. In Utah: gypsum deposits, desert climate, clay minerals and sand dunes. The main goal of our mission is same as it would be on real Mars mission – finding the traces of life or life itself. The crew biologist Anushree Srivastava has all the weight on her shoulders. She is responsible for five microbiological research projects but only two of them can correspond with real Mars mission. The hypoliths are photosynthetic organisms that live underneath translucent rocks in climatically extreme places. The rocks are generally translucent (quartz) which allow hypoliths to receive light, moisture from the substrate and the soil underside. During our fieldwork in Utah we tested that it is correct, but at Devon Island the hypoliths follow different path. They live under the limestone. Rock protects hypoliths from harsh ultraviolet radiation, desiccation and extreme temperatures. There is a big possibility to find microorganisms living underneath the Martian rocks.

Another important research is finding traces of microbial life trapped in ancient evaporites such as gypsum (hydrated calcium sulphate). Those microorganisms are halophiles. Halophiles (in Greek word for “salt-loving”) are organisms that thrive in high salt concentrations. They can be found anywhere with a concentration of salt five times greater than the salt concentration of the ocean. As Anushree says: “On Earth photosynthetic life has been found to be encapsulated inside hydrothermal sulfate rocks. On the other hand, ancient gypsum may also host the sings of primitive life that was living in the liquid water and got buried during crystallization. If not viable, we may find the trace of past life that left while degradation. So we are interested in investigating gypsum from that perspective. Since the presence of gypsum has been confirmed on the surface of Mars, there is a possibility to detect similar signs of life in those deposits”. Three other biology projects have less chances of be repeated on Mars, but have operational advantage in analog environments. Mapping and surveying of Lichen biodiversity; documenting the Arctic flora and studying associated microbiome; studying different communities of Algae in the Arctic environment. It is fascinating to participate in these projects via assisting Anushree during EVAs. To discover micro life in such a hostile world. To watch how it fights for the place under the sun. To look at our planet from a different angle. This is why the science comes first!

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Crew Photos – August 13th

 

Paul Knightly with American flag

 

Writing final reports Anushree and Jon

 

Alexandre is fixing the trailer

 

Anastasiya and Jon happy about baked bread

 

Commander with the French flag

 

Gypsum surface texture

 

Jon and Anastasiya on the scout

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Journalist Report – August 12th

Anastasiya Stepanova

We are what we eat

Before the space race started, people assumed that the space food would be used only in the form of pills. They should be fully digestible and require no time for cooking. But food pills have never been invented. In the beginning of space era, back at 60’s era Soviet Union and USA started their space food research programs. First human who ate, while orbiting the Earth, was Yuri Gagarin. He wasn’t hungry, it was a 108 minutes trip to space but Gagarin had to test the ability of human body to digest food in zero gravity. The food was packed in the tubes with minced meat and chocolate inside, of course separately. Humans can digest food in space, but the taste perception changes. As astronauts say food tastes same as when you have blocked nose, so they use extra salt and spices. Until the 90’s food was packed mostly into tubes. But with the new technologies of vacuum packing and dehydration, now tubes used only for honey and sauces packaging. To send each kilogram to space costs enormous amount of money, therefore astronauts receive dehydrated food in vacuum packs and some meat/fish in aluminum cans. On Earth plenty of places where the weight, shelve stable, no need to cook qualities of the food matter. Hiking up in the mountains, working as a rescuer or living at FMARS station in Mars simulation. In all of those cases, the tubes are perfect solution. No time to sit down and eat, grab the soup or minced meat in a tube and the stomach refilled. Exactly this kind of space tubes we received from Earth. The Space Food Laboratory is based in Russia produces space food for the cosmonauts but also distributes it to ordinary people. The Space Food Laboratory was happy to participate in Mars 160 mission and provided our crew variety of nutritious, healthy and balanced food. Usually we have our Russian space treat twice per week. It consist of three courses: soup, meat and dessert. The crew always look forward to these special meals and enjoys discovering new tastes of Russian cuisine. Borshct – popular red soup made of vegetables and beef. The beetroot gives to it the red color. There are three other different types of soups, with sorrel, mutton and pickles. All soups are in the tubes. Beef tongue with olives, chicken with prunes, veal with vegetables packed in aluminum cans. As for dessert, the cottage cheese with different flavors: apple, blackcurrant and sea buckthorn. Sea buckthorn is a yellow small berry, which mostly grows in Russia. I hope you are intrigued and hungry!

We also have dry Japanese food Furi-Kake from Yusuke Murakami, which has an interesting story. A pharmacist from Kumamoto invented the supplements for medical use more than 150 years ago, when Japanese people had shortage in calcium. He dried fish bones and smashed it into powder, mixed it with seaweed, sesame seeds and some other flavors to taste good and gave it as medicine. People loved the taste and started to buy it just to use as spice for the rice. He named the supplement “Gohan-no-tomo”, which means “Friend of rice”. Furi-Kake became the general name for this kind of dry food and means “shake and put on the rice”. With a time, it spread throughout whole Japan and each town has its own recipe of Furi-Kake. Now it is more than thousand varieties of it. A Furi-Kake festival, which doesn’t have one date, can happen whenever people want and looks more like a competition. First people try different Furi-Kake tastes brought by Japanese food companies and then vote for the best one. Now we are adding Furi-Kake to almost any meal and it tastes unusual, but good. The variety is impressive: sour, salty, sweet, crispy. We have: cod fish, bonito fish, squid, shrimp, salted plum, sea urchin, apricot, ramen and kidney beans. It is shelve stable, light and has calcium, seaweed minerals, iron, vitamin E and many more. Japanese say that seaweed is good for hair. Well, now we can’t really see any difference, since we wash hair once a week, but we hope it is strong and shiny.

If the saying “We are what we eat” is true, then we should have an energy of an astronauts and the wisdom of the Japanese. I definitely know that on Mars crew will need to have space food, but will still want to cook an earthly meals and bake bread because this gives the warm feelings of a home. A new home, which we dreamed of.

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Sol Summary – August 12th

Jon Clarke

Sol 24 (or 104)

Big and successful sol today, rounding off our EVA campaign. We were all up early to greet the day, though to the dawn. Dawn does not happen until the 15th. It was breezy, with low cloud, but no rain. Good EVA weather.

The first EVA team – Paul and Yusuke with Anastasiya riding shot gun – were out the hatch by 8 am. They revisited Paul’s mega polygon site to collect more data and samples. They were home by 12, by which time the second team was lunched and ready to go. Soon after 1 pm Anushree and I, with Alex as shotgun, departed for a long drive down to the centre of the crater in search of an additional site for gypsum sampling. Working off the geology map we located an outcrop of the gyosum-bearing Bay Fiord Formation. This turned out to be a mega breccia outcrop, presumably formed by the impact that formed Haughton crater. A fascinating outcrop, well worth the drive. It was capped by the presence of a seam of ice in a fracture at the base of the outcrop. We were also rewarded by the sun breaking though and some magnificent sunlit views of the centre of the crater.

On the way back was ruminating on our time here. Felt rather sad that this was out last scheduled EVA. We are just getting into our stride, building confidence in the terrain, our skills, and our equipment to carry out longer and longer EVAs into the crater and its surrounds. Of course, if we had been here for two months we would probably feel the same. If only we could stay longer. No doubt future astronauts on Mars will feel the same when it is their time to leave. Our experience does highlight the value of longer (one to one and a half Earth years) as opposed to shorter (30-60 days) stays on Mars.

Tonight we feel weary but very pleased with ourselves. We will watch “The Expanse” tonight, and tomorrow we can sleep in on a day off. Outside it can rain if it wants to, we won’t care. So long as it is fine for our flights out next week.

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Journalist Report – August 11th

Anastasiya Stepanova

The daily life of Arctic Martians

Just as at MDRS my sleeping quarter is opposite one of the big portholes. Every morning I wake up with the view of this window to an alien world. But not always can you actually see anything beyond the transparent glass. The condensation inside the Hab makes all the portholes foggy. Several times per day, we wipe the glass from all the moisture. Our geologist Jon is the early bird. He wakes up first, goes out and turns on the generator, put the water to boil, turns on the heaters and checks his emails. The generator sound is as if an alarm for the rest of the crew and one by one people get out of their cozy bunks. The queue downstairs to the toilet, shaking from cold people, yawns and salutes of the “Good morning” – usual everyday morning procedures. Coffee and breakfast with dehydrated milk, cereals and quick oats brings people to life. Only then, people can start the briefing, which is work, cooking and doing the dishes schedule for the day.

The daily routine consists of many awkward and rare for the civilized world procedures. Disposing of the grey water, which is waste from washing the dishes and showers, means emptying the special barrel outside into a pit some distance away. Usually at least two people do it, since the barrel is heavy. Burning the trash and our excrements in the incinerator is another exciting moment of our day. Yes, I can feel your question: “Burning the excrements?” Well, here we do our “number one and two” very differently than on Earth. Due to preserving the wild nature on this island, we have to follow these steps: pee into special funnel, which connected to another barrel outside. When the barrel is full, it will be loaded on the plane and flown out of the island. To prepare for the “number two” first take out small plastic garbage bag, place it in the toilet bowl, do the business, tie up the plastic bag with the goodies inside and put it into special poop barrel. From there we take it to the incinerator for burning. Easy right? Not as gross as it seems! On Mars manned missions might use urine for extracting water and excrements for fertilizer. We didn’t go that far!

Where do we get the water from? We fetch it from melt water rivers few hundred meters away from the Hab. Firstly the gun person or bear watcher goes out, checks if the area is clear, than we attach the trailer to one of the ATVs and hit the road. While two people fill the jerry cans with water, third one looks around for the danger – a bear. When water brought to the Hab, we place it to the barrel and from there it pumped to kitchen and bathroom. Just imagine where else you can say that you take shower and wash clothes in the pure arctic water. Don’t know if my skin rejuvenate after that, but it is good and clean!

The EVA’s take the grand part of our day and usually last from two to five hours. Few hours each for cooking, writing reports, articles, and working in the science laboratory. We still have a little time left for ourselves. We watch twice a week a one hour TV series “Expanse” and a movie on our day off. Some read books, work with photographs and even sing. As for me, cheerful music in my headphones, feet on the wheel of the bicycle, which located in front of big porthole with amazing view to the Haughton crater. Where else in the world you can work out and observe the 39 million year old crater? Only here, the grand Devon island, the unique FMARS!

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Sol Summary – August 11th

Jon Clarke

Sol 23 (or 103)

Today dawned slightly foggy but it soon cleared up to be a nice sunny day, though still with a stiff breeze. Good EVA weather! In the morning we fetched water to replenish our tanks for the remaining three people who are having their weekly shower tonight.

Today’s EVA went only a short distance into the crater, but lasted over four hours and achieved many goals. Yusuke and Anushree were suited, Anastasiya road shotgun. First Yusuke carried out a 3D scan of a field of sorted stone polygons, the same site trenched by Paul four sols ago. Aunshree collected hypolith data while he was going this. When this was done there was a quick diversion to an area of impact melt rocks for sampling. The team then made their way back to Lake Cornell where they collected further hypolith data. Their final tasks, back at the hab, was to sample the pink biofilms at the micro oasis just below the ridge crest.

Tonight I made Palak Paneer and rice. We had an extended discussion afterwards to discuss how we will close out the station when we depart next week.

Tomorrow will be a very busy sol. We are aiming to do two EVAs because of the expected bad weather coming on Sunday may preclude EVAs for the following couple of days. Until then it’s goodnight from me and goodnight from the rest of the crew.

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Commander Report – August 11th

Alexandre Mangeot

Still a bit of tension among the crew. We are pushing our limits and this is affecting the crew morale.
Expecting bad weather Sunday and possible difficult conditions on Monday, we are going to have two 4-5 hours EVAs tomorrow.
Sunday will be our last day off at FMARS.

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Commander Report – August 10th

Alexandre Mangeot

Again some glitches among the crew. I am not worried about these
because we are approaching the end of the mission and we are tired
thus easy to upset. However I will pay attention that we all keep
doing our job properly and safely. I do not want anyone to get injured
because we are getting tired and less focused.

Today we had the last twin EVA. We are coming back with substantial data.

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Sol Summary – August 10th

Jon Clarke

Sol 22 (or 102)

A beautiful sunny day today, with a stiff and chilly breeze from the
SW.  But make no mistake, winter is coming.  Those of us who got up
at midnight saw sunset colours as the sun skimmed the horizon.  It’s
getting lower and lower and we expect our first real sunset on the
14th.

Our main task for today was our last operational research EVA, comparing
suited and un-suited performance on EVA.  We collected biological and
geological samples and observations along Haynes ridge SW of the hab.
Beautiful weather though chilly.

Yusuke is cooking tonight.  When asked what he is cooking he said: “I
don’t know!” But it featured bean soup, Tibetan bread, and spam with
wasabi and soy sauce.

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Commander Report – August 9th

Written by Alexandre Mangeot

The crew morale is very good today. We had a wonderful evening yesterday (a lot of laughs). The weather is finally improving. A long EVA today. Jon, Paul and Yusuke have been to the mega polygons locations. The location where Paul was supposed to install his probes, but could not because of ground conditions. They currently on their way back, expecting them in 15 minutes. We are expecting Paul with large smile since he finally got where he wanted to go.

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