Crew Roles

MDRS Crew Roles and Responsibilities

Updated for the 2013-2014 field season


Crew Commander (CDR):

The Crew Commander has the authority to organize and operate MDRS crew resources as necessary according to his or her individual leadership style and in accordance with  Mission Support.  When a decision must be made, the CDR has the last word with the crew.  The CDR supervises the preparation of daily reports by other crewmembers and also prepares the commander’s check-in and commander’s report.


When possible, the CDR should gather crew input and encourage discussion, however ultimately the CDR is responsible for setting the priorities for the activities at MDRS, and as such all crew members should follow the CDR’s instructions and directives.  The CDR also has the ultimate responsibility for communication and collaboration with Mission Support during COMMS and throughout the rotation.  


This position requires demonstrated leadership, with desired leadership in outdoor or expedition settings.  


Executive Officer (XO or 2IC)

If not already appointed by the Head of Mission Support, the Crew Commander shall assign an Executive Officer (XO) who shall be the MDRS mission second in command (2IC).  The Executive Officer will be responsible for guiding crews based on mission goals and will act as Acting CDR if necessary.


Crew Engineer

The engineer is responsible for the ongoing oversight and maintenance of the Habitat and all of its physical systems, including EVA suits, computers, and ATVs.  He or she prepares the daily engineering report on the physical health of the Hab. The engineer position is vitally important to the station as a whole and also for each crew, The crew engineer needs to have a varied background in many engineering and home repair skills, and needs to be willing to be trained on the systems of the station by Mission Support.  Note that MDRS is a constantly evolving facility; even crewmembers who have served at MDRS in the past should not presume that they know the present-day systems and procedures.  The engineer must have the integrity to report problems as they occur, the persistence to stick with an issue until it is diagnosed and solved, the insight to propose tests and solutions to Mission Support, and the humility to follow the guidance of Mission Support and its engineering team.  Note that no modifications or additions to the MDRS facility will be conducted without express prior approval from Mission Support Engineering.  Generally, the crew engineer does not comes to MDRS with his/her own research, as keeping MDRS in top condition is the main goal of this position.


Crew Geologist

The geologist is in charge of his/her own research and any multi-mission science projects investigating the geology of the MDRS area.   This position requires an academic background in geology and a preferred background in fieldwork.


Crew Biologist

The crew biologist takes charge of his/her own research and any season-long or multi-mission science projects involving biology.  This position requires an academic background in biology and a preferred background in field and lab work.


Crew Astronomer

The crew astronomer is in charge of the crew’s use of the Musk Observatory telescopes and camera. The Astronomer completes an online training program on use of the telescope, then signs out the Telescope Box in order to gain access to the big Celestron telescope.  The Astronomer is also responsible for taking any astronomical photographs and doing any maintenance requested by  the Astronomy Team during the mission.   This position requires some demonstrated experience in astronomy and/or automated telescopes.


Crew Journalist

The journalist is responsible for preparing and submitting a short, interesting written account of the day’s activities for posting on the Mars Society website. The daily journalist report is expected to be different from, and in addition to, any other outreach activity, blogging, or journalistic writing produced by the crew.  


Crew Scientist

The crew scientist takes charge of his/her own research, generally in the areas of human factors or robotics.  The position required an academic background in a specific field and a preferred background in field or isolated environments.  


Health and Safety Officer (HSO)

The HSO is the Flight Surgeon’s representative at MDRS.  The HSO is not the “Ship’s Doctor” – that’s the flight surgeon’s job – but has responsibility for general health and safety aspects of the crew, habitat, and mission operations.  The HSO is responsible for the telemedicine practice run at the start of the mission, for sending health and safety reports as needed, for inspecting the condition of available medical supplies and the safety of the habitat at the start of the mission, for filing an end-of-simulation report to Mission Support, and for initiating any telemedical support sessions in case of an illness or injury.  The HSO position is not generally a separate crew position like engineer or XO but is typically taken on in addition to one of the other crew positions.


GreenHab Officer

The GreenHab Officer is responsible for the maintenance of the plants growing in the GreenHab, the upkeep of the Zen Garden space, the planting/harvesting of crops according to the schedule designed by the GreenHab Team.  This position requires some experience with gardening, greenhouse work, or a green thumb!