FMARS-15 Sol Summary Report 28-07-2023

Mission Status: All Nominal
Sol Activity Summary: Today was meant to be our first day off, although it was partially busy.
We had no planned EVAs, allowing the crew to focus on personal tasks. However, we did
retrieve water from the local stream, collecting approximately 180 liters, and dedicated time to
clean the kitchen and upper hab.
The engineering team continued their mission at a less frantic pace. They installed new lights in
the common area of the station, making substantial progress toward the 2nd-floor main area LED
lighting completion. Tasks include securing armored cable runs, mounting switch boxes, and
making final electrical connections.
Windsock installation at the north end of the FMARS airstrip was successful and functioned as
planned. Incineration of items continued, with six-barrel loads incinerated today and three more
scheduled for tomorrow. The generators continue to run on a mix of new and old fuel at a ratio of
Commander’s Report – Sol 5: Weather conditions were clear with sunny skies. The wind was
calm and slightly variable in the morning, building to gentle to moderate in the afternoon,
leading to a drop in temperature. Temperatures ranged from low to mid-teens Celsius.
During the day, the crew conducted an internet meeting with pupils from Kurwongbah State
School in Queensland, Australia. The team enjoyed a relatively relaxed day in the habitat
following this meeting. We used the time to catch up on advancing science projects, updating
maps and GIS databases, and completing pending engineering tasks that often get postponed due
to other priorities.
We disposed of accumulated rubbish and waste in the afternoon through incineration, taking
advantage of favorable wind conditions. A water replenishment run was also carried out, and we
observed that the water level was still dropping, albeit at a slowed rate. We erected a windsock as
a navigation aid at the southwest end of the landing strip. Later, an unscheduled EVA on foot was
undertaken to examine the effectiveness of visor modifications (an improvised external sun
visor) and the impact of extensive suit repairs on mobility at a separate suit’s waist/upper leg
interface. The traverse covered 1.5 km, including GPS locating the newly positioned windsock,
and confirmed the location of a previously acquired creek crossing. No polar bears were
encountered during the EVA.
EVA Activity: Crew FMARS15 conducted EVA #5, which included Commander Andrew
Wheeler and XO D. Terry Trevino, with Science Mission Lead Olivia Drayson serving as a bear
guard. The unscheduled EVA aimed to test the effectiveness of an improvised external sun shield
for improved helmet ventilation and visibility against a low sun angle. A second suit with
extensive repairs was also trialed to assess its impact on mobility. Secondary objectives included

obtaining GPS locations for the newly erected windsock at the landing strip and confirming
previous acquisitions at several creek crossings. The sun visor proved effective, but the suit
repairs need modification to improve mobility. GPS coordinates were successfully collected, and
the total EVA time was 30 minutes.
Science Officer Olivia Drayson’s Research Report – 26 July 2023:
● EVA: One miniature EVA took place to collect GPS data on nearby landmarks for the
map under production.
● Algal Investigation: Samples collected during EVA2 and EVA4, including cyanobacteria
algae, were inspected under a microscope. A previously packed-away microscope was
found inside the habitat, and we successfully viewed a sample of cyanobacteria mounted
onto a glass slide using the 100X oil lens. A plan to track the growth rate of the
cyanobacteria samples has been initiated, and an EVA to return to the algal mat will be
● Microplastics Study: The Nile Red stock was added to a lake sample for microplastic
detection. We viewed the slide under the fluorescent microscope; further investigations
and testing are scheduled for tonight.
● Mapping the Surface: Commander Andrew began developing a detailed map using GPS
coordinates collected during EVAs.
● Human Factors Study: Heart rate variability continues to be tracked, and the crew
consistently completed two meditation sessions per day during the simulation.
● Crew Comfort, Health, and Safety: Doors were left open, and a fan was set up to extract
air from the attic, dramatically dropping CO2 levels from previous days. However, Total
Volatile Organic Compounds (TVOC) levels, including Benzene and Formaldehyde,
remain a concern. Despite the ventilation system, the upper floor still reads the maximum
limit for TVOC at 9.99 mg/m3, and the attic has around 8 mg/m3. The crew continues to
search for solutions, and the dehumidifiers will be cleaned and tested as higher relative
temperatures and humidity in the upper level are believed to be causing greater
off-gassing and accumulation of these pollutants.

Read More

FMARS-15 Sol Summary Report 24-07-2023

Crew 15 Sol Summary Report 24-07-2023

Sol: 1

Summary Title: Preparing the Hab

Author’s name: D. Terry Trevino

Mission Status: All Nominal

Sol Activity Summary: After about 8 hours of sleep, our day began with a solid breakfast of cereal and crystalized eggs mixed with bacon. Every day, we awake knowing, we are a team of five and perhaps the only people on Devon Island. That precipitated a song from Commander Wheeler’s era, 1969, Good Morning Starshine, by Oliver.

Our crew commander, Andrew Wheeler, mapped our day out, cleaning the space suits, preparing for a practice EVA, and learning best practices for donning and doffing the analog space suits. Commander Wheeler discussed our objectives for the day.

Part of our daily routine will be starting up the generators, and we have lovingly named them Genny, (Yanmar) Bambi, (Yanmar), and Rachel (Generac), along with Colin (Coleman), and Thumper (Dead Yanmar) who is missing a tank.

Commander Wheeler led Chief Science Officer Drayson and XO/Mission Scientist Trevino down to the creek below the HMP landing strip to collect water for the next two days while the engineering team of Caleb Pool and Andy Greco worked on organizing their stations and Crew Engineer Pool continued to repair spacesuits.

Lunch included a rehydrated soup mixed in water used the previous day and canned “luncheon meat” gently browned with freshly baked bread.

We practiced meditation twice while monitoring our heart rate variability with our Garmin watches.

We are monitoring Hab CO2 on the upper level.

Look Ahead Plan:

Anomalies in work: A fuel line leak in Genny appeared during startup for evening meal prep, and apparently, the fuel line is fragile from 6 years of exposure to the arctic elements. During our water run today, Commander Wheeler noted that the water in the creek appeared much lower, and we are anticipating it will continue to run at a reduced rate.

Weather: Today was warm, bright, and sunny, with winds approaching .5 mph or 1 m/s. The temperature in the Hab hit 22C and outside 15C.

Crew Physical Status: Crew health is nominal, with no significant injuries other than the knicks and muscle strains from the strenuous work over the past nine days.

EVA: No EVAs have occurred to date.

Reports to be filed: Sol Summary, Operations Report, Journalist Report, EVA Report, EVA Request.

Support Requested: No support was requested other than previously mentioned in an email exchange between Crew Engineer Andy Greco and The Mars Society – Executive Director – James Burk

Read More

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

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

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

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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

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.

Read More

Sol Summary – August 8th

Sol 20 (or 21)

Still, chilly morning with clouds, but good for an EVA. After lunch we suited up and did one of the operation trial EVAs. The spot we chose for this was to the SW of the hab along Haynes ridge, and tracked down the side of the crater. We collected and documented fossils, including some very nice stromatolites, and biological communities. Our survey terminated in some large mounds on the lower part of the crater sides. These proved to be masses of impact ejecta.

All up we walked 3 km and trudged home weary but satisfied, with our bags full of rocks.

This evening we had a hilarious time discussing Yusuke’s darkest secret. No, we won’t share it. And nobody will imagine what it is.

Watching episode 11 of “The Expanse” tonight!

Read More

Sol Summary – August 7th

Sol Summary
Jon Clarke
August 7, 2017

Sol 19 (or 99)

After sunshine yesterday afternoon, and warmer temperatures, including a warm night, woke this morning to the sound of rain on the hab. So EVA plans were temporarily put on hold until the situation stabilised. People worked on notes, labelled samples, did projects, and performed hab tasks such as cleaning, tidying, and burning rubbish. Anastasiya has being reorganising the loft and finally, after several week’s work, it is at last fit for habitation as an additional bedroom for a seventh crew member, should there be one on a future crew.

After lunch the weather had stabilised enough for un-unsuited EVA. Paul led the excursion, I assisted, and Yusuke was shot gun. We had two objectives, the first was trenching polygons for Paul, and the second was 3D imaging of slope features. Both were successful carried out and we were able to sample some thixotropic soils. Paul found a nice example of a solitary rugose coral. We also located a micro-oasis near the hab with a diverse flora, which gave us much to think about and discuss.

Thus ends another manic Monday on Mars!

Read More

Sol Summary – August 6th

Sol Summary
Jonathan Clarke
August 6, 2017

Sol 18 (or 98)


Today we were back in the saddle after a good night’s sleep. It was warm over night with no wind. Some fog rolled in early in the morning but soon lifted.

We spent the morning doing hab tasks – cleaning the incinerator, disposing of grey water, and replenishing our water supplies from the creek. After a lunch of Russian space food we got ready for our EVA.

This was the second of our operation study EVAs. This was at the same place as before, but we were suited this time. The weather was much better, by the time we finished the sun had come out and we were all feeling distinctly over-dressed.

After we got back several crew were caught on camera basking in the sun streaming through the windows. Others fired up the incinerator again for the never ending task of disposing of rubbish. Dear reader, how might we dispose of rubbish on Mars?

As I sign off I look through the east window to a blue sky and a softly lit crater rim, 15 km away. A good end to our day on Mars.

Read More

Sol Summary – August 5th

Jon Clarke

Sol 17 (or 97)

Early rest day this week, in the hope that the weather will be improving over the next couple of days. It is slightly better than yesterday, which gives us grounds for optimism!

Pancakes again for breakfast, thanks to Anastasiya. Today people have been napping, reading, watching videos on their computers, doing their own projects (like 3D scanning preparations for talks), and for some exercising on the lower deck. Some of us have been looking at pictures of old expeditions to MDRS, and seeing how it and the people have changed, and the similarities and differences between MDRS and FMARS.

The downside of a day off is that we are less active. So we feel the chill in the station a bit more, especially when the generator is off to conserve fuel. Time to put on more layers!

Not much else to report in consequence, but we do appreciate these days off.

Read More

Sol Summary – August 4th

Jon Clarke

Sol 16 (or 96)

We woke this morning to a great silence. Looking out the windows (after wiping all the condensation off them) I saw the reason: we were enveloped in thick fog. Visibility was down to less than 200m. It stayed like this most of the day, there were a few times it lifted but it soon came down again. The ground is also very wet, pools of water everywhere, saturated by the recent rain. The depth of soil above the permafrost is so thin that it does not take much to saturate it.

Today’s pictures show what we want to future to be, not our current situation. A crater filled with light, not fog. They were from a few days ago when for 30 minutes or so, we actually had sunshine.

So no EVA again today, which is frustrating. The ground was too wet for trenching, the visibility too poor for driving, and even for 3-D imaging, which is the simplest field task. So we spent the day working inside. Cleaning, rigging lights (or trying to), sorting old food and equipment, writing up notes, and planning for the day when we will be able to do a proper EVA.

The rest of the crew availed themselves of the shower this evening, so we are all clean and human looking again.

Read More

Sol Summary – August 3rd

Sol 15 (or 95)

The forecast rain did arrive and, although it’s no windy, it was verywet this morning from about 10 am with scattered showers thisafternoon and this evening.

Much to our disappointment we had to cancel our scheduled EVA, a follow up to yesterday’s operational investigation.  The most we could manage under the circumstances was a brief unsuited sortie to check track and creek conditions, the former are muddy and the second are high.

As a result we spent most of the day doing hab tasks, fetching water (just before the rain came down) burning rubbish, scrubbing biofilms from nooks and crannies in the hab, and doing a session for the Institute for Bio-Medical Problems in Moscow.

Gloriously, three of us had showers today, another three tomorrow. I won’t name names, but it did feel good!

With the thick cloud it is very dark in the hab. We will need to connect up some lights.

Once again hoping for better weather tomorrow.

Read More

Sol Summary – August 2nd

Sol 14 (or 94)

Today we started a campaign of studying EVA operations. The first phase was a non-sim EVA. The weather was wild, after a sunny and calm morning but by the time we started it was blowing a gale with drizzle and occasional snow. The rain (and snow) stopped about half way through. We will try to go back with suits tomorrow if it isn’t raining.

Otherwise we did work round the hab, including processing samples and data collected during the EVA. This is a major consumer of time, experience shows us that for every hour spent on EVA 1.5 hours is spent planning, preparing for, an following up EVA activities.

Hoping for better weather tomorrow.

Jon Clarke

Read More

Sol Summary – August 1st

Written by Jon Clarke

Sol 13 (or 93)

Something extraordinary happened today, the weather was not as bad as predicted. In the afternoon there was even a bit of sun during the EVA!

In the morning a team went to collect water and do other outside housing keeping tasks like disposing of the grey water and checking on the incinerator.

Anushree and I did a pedestrian EVA in the hab environments. Paul was shotgun again. First we collected samples of the white dolostone SW of the hab for future petrographic study, then walked down the quadbike track to the north to find sites suitable to pay out the hypolith quadrat. We found three sites. We wound up the EVA with checking Paul’s sensor stations on the slope below the hab.

Busy evening in the hab, processing data, sorting out old food, and planning EVAs for the next few days.

Read More

Sol Summary – July 31st

Written by Jon Clarke

Today really was a rest day.  This was just as well because, as predicted, the weather took a turn for the worse.  The wind blew strongly overnight, it snowed lightly this morning (but did not settle) and then rained this afternoon.

Hab-bound, people read, caught up with notes, write emails to family and friends, edited images and videos, worked on their own research projects, napped, and chatted.  Yusuke is cooking up a storm in the galley. It was rice with a number of different sauces containing lentils, beans, tomatoes, chocolate, coffee, maple syrup, honey, coconut milk, milk powder, soy sauce, raisins and many different spices.  These are just a few of the ingredients.

We are hoping for better weather tomorrow, but the forecast is not good.  We have plans for all contingencies.

Read More

Sol Summary – July 30th

Jon Clarke

Sol 11 (or 91)

Yes, I know I said in yesterday’s Sol summary that today was going to be a rest day, but plans change. The weather forecast said that today’s weather would be good but that the next could of days would not, so we put off the rest period for 24 hours to take advantage of the weather window.

For once the forecast was correct (cue gasps of surprise). The morning proved still and clear, there were even patches of sunlight (Ach! The yellow face, it burns us precious!). So today’s EVA team (Alex and Yusuke in suits, Anastasiya as shotgun) departed at 10 am for an extended scouting mission to the south to test trafficability to the Gemini Hills. The secondary was to do some 3-D scanning of polygons, but time did not permit this to be achieved.

Yesterday’s EVA team wrote up and analysed results of yesterday’s effort. In the afternoon there was a concerted effort of trash and poop burning in the incinerator. This is nowhere near as gross as it sounds, the incinerator burns hot and the smell, although odd is not excessively unpleasant, less so than a smoky wood fire.

On the evening the weather forecast seems to be proving correct, with the wind picking up, shifting to the north, and a sharp drop in temperature.
The clouds have a look of snow about them. Glad we are snug in the hab!

Read More

Sol Summary – July 29th

Jon Clarke

Sol 10 (or 90)

Since we started rather late yesterday morning I set the alarm for 7:30. Funny how much harder it is to get up when the alarm tells you it’s time!

The weather was windy today but not raining, apart from occasional light showers. Not as windy as some previous days.

We were able to do our long EVA today, the one we had oped to do yesterday. Anushree, myself (in suits) and Paul (shotgun) got away at nine and worked our way to towards the Haughton crater. It was very cold, driving into a SE wind. So we stopped every 20-30 minutes or so to walk round to get the circulation going. We made sure that these were at sites of interest. Had to ford the creeks multiple times, but this was no big drama. The first stop was at the first good melt sheet deposit, which looks for all the world like broken concrete. The second at some large breccia masses. Our third stop was at a complex of brecciated but in situ interbedded dolostone and gypsum overlain by polymict (many different rock types) breccia, a spectacular outcrop that Professor Oskinski of the University of Western Ontario has designated a “supersite” because of the number of key features of Haughton crater geology that it illustrates. We got far enough east that we could see the valley of the Haughton River, unfortunately misty rain was blowing up it and we decided to turn round. Still we were able to get all the samples we set out to achieve, so this was a very successful EVA. Arrived back at the station at 2 pm for a very welcome and very late lunch.

In the afternoon we did a group exercise as part of the Institute of Bio-Medical Problems in Moscow’s research program in the Mars 160 expeditions. We had to discuss a scenario while our interaction was videoed. We also have fortnightly tests and twice weekly diary entries to do for them.

Paul is cooking street style tacos using tortilla’s tonight. Tomorrow will be a rest day. Because we can sleep in we will be watching “Rogue One” – half the crew haven’t seen it!

Read More

Sol Summary – July 28th

Written by Jon Clarke

Sol 9 (or 89)

Today illustrates the impact of weather on operations up here in the Arctic. Paul, Anushree and I planned doing a long EVA almost to the other side of Haughton crater, to the Haughton river. Objectives combined scouting and sampling. Just over 8 km as the snowy owl flies, and 26 km round trip as the quad bike drives, with the possibility of an additional 4 km extension, had time permitted. But as we were suiting up and doing the “depressurisation” cycle the fog had closed in so much we had to cancel. This is an important EVA because it allows us to access geology and environments deep inside the crater and to test long range operations. This was a very disappointing outcome, but safety first. We will try again tomorrow, weather permitting.

For dinner this evening Yusuke prepared a traditional Japanese sea food meal called Furi Kake. It was… interesting! Flakes of salted dried fish, shrimp, squid, sea urchin, plums, and seaweed sprinkled on rice and eaten with wasabi. There was also a dried sweet bean “dessert” one.

For the record, Paul’s choice of birthday movie was “Twister”, an appropriate choice for someone who is a storm chaser back home!

Read More

Sol Summary – July 27th

Written by Jon Clarke

Sol 8 (or 88)

Very still overnight, and when we woke we found out why; the fog had come in and the hab was enveloped in cloud. We could still see the crater floor though, so the cloud base must have been just below us. The fog gradually lifted, and when we went on our EVA visibility was clear for the area we wanted to visit.

For a change there was no wind and no rain, so it was a suited EVA. Our goal was to sample the limestones that form the rim of the crater. We climbed Haynes Ridge and found a range of carbonate lithologies, including stromatolites, burrowed mudstones, megafossil rich units (stromatoporoids), and horizons rich in skeletal fragments. Sampling finished we then proceeded to our secondary objectives, which was to investigate the nature of some large rocks on the sides of the crater a few km from the station. We descended from the rim and walked down the sloping sides across block streams and muddy polygonal ground. In several places we had to take care to step only on the stone polygons to avoid getting bogged in the softer centres. The boulders were about the side or shipping containers and proved to be of complex brecciated limestone formed by the Haughton impact event, excavated from the bedrock and then emplaced from the crater floor. It was problem also scattered across the landscape surrounding the crater too, but that has long been eroded. Exploring these deposits was a very martian experience, as such impact breccias are common on Mars and the Moon. Then it was back to the hab to process our data.

We have another birthday, Paul’s. He’s the youngest of our group and our second geologist. Alex and Anastasiya cooked spaghetti carbonara. Yusuke made a piñata. Tonight we will also watch a video to celebrate. Paul’s choice and he’s not telling us what it is! As we have been preparing to celebrate, the fog has really rolled in, we can’t even see the crater floor now. So it’s goodnight from a snug and fogbound FMARS.

Read More

Sol Summary – July 26th

Written by Jon Clarke

Sol 7 (or 87)

The weather is NOT improving on Mars. Almost no wind, but it rained overnight and there are big puddles everywhere. The cloud is sinking lower and the far rim of the crater was actually hidden by them for much of the day. It’s not much higher here, but we think the lower cloud on the other side is coming in from the sea. It drizzled lightly all day, so our EVA team was once again forced to do their stuff out of Sim.

Anushree and Paul headed out across the crater floor along the creek beds to avoid to mud to the inner rim of brecciated rocks. Alex was shot gun. Anushree was sampling the local botany, focusing on lichens and yellow flowering plants for Paul Sokoloff at the Canadian Museum of Nature. Paul continued his trenching studies of polygons. While away from the quads the crew had their first encounter with the dreaded quick mud of the Arctic. Nobody lost their boots but it was touch and go for a while! On the positive side, no mosquitoes today. Perhaps it was too wet and miserable for them.

Thinking through our adventures I have decided that in Kim Stanley Robinson’s taxonomy of future martian politics I am “red”. Leave Mars as it is, turning Mars into a mud hole does not seem like a good idea up here on Devon!

Read More

Sol Summary – July 25th

Written by Jon Clarke

Sol 6 (or 86)

You won’t read it in “The National Enquirer” but you will read it here: Mosquitoes on Mars!

The wind and dropped and it wasn’t raining so Paul, Yusuke donned the EVA suits and with and Anastasiya as shotgun took the quad bikes into the crater on EVA 5 to follow up their reconnaissance during EVA 4. The aim was to study the polygons, trenching them to find the permafrost and mapping them with 3-D imagery. They were unable to find the permafrost, it was below the practical trenching depth in the suits (0.5 m) but they obtained some great 3-D imagery. It was while the trenching was taking place that the mosquitoes appeared. Whether it was due to the location near a creek, the progress of summer, or the smell of fresh astronaut, a regular swarm of them appeared. Fortunately the helmets seem to keep the worst of them off, except for Anastasiya.

Yusuke produced some nice 3-D images of the trenching and the polygon, thus replicating the achievements of the Phoenix mission on Mars.

They then thought they would explore further into the crater, but the weather closed in. Still no wind, but a misty rain began to fall. Those of us in the hab kept an eye on the blanket of sea fog on the horizon, hovering over the inlets to the north east, it is stayed whether it was. The EVA team wisely decided to abort their reconnaissance and head home, arriving home a little damp but safe.

Read More

Sol Summary – July 24th

Written by Jon Clarke

Sol 8 (or 88)

Very still overnight, and when we woke we found out why; the fog had
come in and the hab was enveloped in cloud. We could still see the
crater floor though, so the cloud base must have been just below us.
The fog gradually lifted, and when we went on our EVA visibility was
clear for the area we wanted to visit.

For a change there was no wind and no rain, so it was a suited EVA.
Our goal was to sample the limestones that form the rim of the crater.
We climbed Haynes Ridge and found a range of carbonate lithologies,
including stromatolites, burrowed mudstones, megafossil rich units
(stromatoporoids), and horizons rich in skeletal fragments. Sampling
finished we then proceeded to our secondary objectives, which was to
investigate the nature of some large rocks on the sides of the crater
a few km from the station. We descended from the rim and walked down
the sloping sides across block streams and muddy polygonal ground. In
several places we had to take care to step only on the stone polygons
to avoid getting bogged in the softer centres. The boulders were
about the side or shipping containers and proved to be of complex
brecciated limestone formed by the Haughton impact event, excavated
from the bedrock and then emplaced from the crater floor. It was
problem also scattered across the landscape surrounding the crater
too, but that has long been eroded. Exploring these deposits was a
very martian experience, as such impact breccias are common on Mars
and the Moon. Then it was back to the hab to process our data.

We have another birthday, Paul’s. He’s the youngest of our group and
our second geologist. Alex and Anastasiya cooked spaghetti carbonara.
Yusuke made a piñata. Tonight we will also watch a video to celebrate.
Paul’s choice and he’s not telling us what it is! As we have been
preparing to celebrate, the fog has really rolled in, we can’t even
see the crater floor now. So it’s goodnight from a snug and fogbound

Jon Clarke

Read More

Sol Summary – July 23rd

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.

Jon Clarke

Read More

Sol Summary – July 22nd

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!).

Read More

Sol Summary – July 21st

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!

Read More

Sol Summary – July 20th

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.

Read More

Sol Summary – July 19th

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.

Read More