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Final Mission Report

Mars Desert Research Station Crew 133 Files Final Report
January 21, 2014

Commanding Officer Summary (Paula Crock):

As representatives of the University of North Dakota's Space Studies program, as well as Lille 2 University's space medicine specialty, we of Crew 133 were eager to put our backgrounds to use in an analog environment. Despite not knowing each other, and facing travel difficulties in arriving at MDRS, our crew settled in quickly to begin sim and our projects.

With EVAs every other day, our various in-Hab projects – the radio telescope, protocol-assisted medical training, journalist reports – progressed quickly while the EVA-based projects – geological strata profiling, radio comms and helmet temperature studies – started up smoothly and maintained consistent scientific output.  Our crew worked together seamlessly from the moment we arrived and began a luggage-moving chain that had the vehicle unloaded into the Hab in just a few minutes.  Each member of 133 continued throughout our rotation to help as needed, whether it was in tedious cleaning chores around the Hab, cooking meals, writing reports or assisting one another on our projects.

The project highlights of our rotation are installing the first radio telescope at MDRS; completing a feasibility study of protocol-assisted anesthesia application by untrained personnel; numerous stories and photos published on SPACE.com; astronomical observations that included a transit of Europa; observational evidence of ancient hydrothermal activity in the local area; substantial data collected on internal helmet temperatures during EVAs; mapping out radio communications "dead zones"  in the vicinity of MDRS, and collecting data for geological strata surveys.


Executive Officer Summary (Gordon Gartrelle):

     The two week mission at MDRS as part of Crew 133 resulted in several achievements. First the crew has a better understanding of the extreme difficulty of exploring another planet. The hostile environment, the isolation, the limited resources, the crew dynamics, stress, and the physical nature of the work required all of us to focus on maintaining a positive mental balance at all times. Through an extraordinary team effort Crew 133 was also able to achieve successful start-up of the MDRS hydroponic vegetable operation. Third, during in-situ observation of the geology during EVAs, the crew determined the MDRS site had extensive hydrothermal activity and likely contains a plentiful amount of ancient (~350 MYR) microfossils. Our team got some major things done to make the Hab better for future crews and we are proud of what we accomplished. Finally, we were all able to relate well to each other as team mates, scientists, human beings, and friends. This understanding plus our work together, as well as our shared experiences at the station will make us all better scientists going forward.


Health and Safety Officer Summary (Matthieu Komorowski, M.D.):

The mission experienced three medical events. The most potentially serious was an upper respiratory tract infection in one crew member that occurred on Day 1 of the simulation. Apart from the fact that the subject was not able to perform his duties for 24 hours, the HSO was concerned about the risk of spreading the infection to the other crew members in such a confined environment. Luckily, this did not happen.  The other noticeable medical events occurred with another crew member, who had a lower back pain following a fall during an EVA, and a probable food contamination. His duties were not unduly impacted by these events.  Remote medical support from Flight Surgeon Dr. Gallagher was sought on each occasion. His directives were very valuable and the HSO appreciated this first experience of telemedicine.

Apart from keeping an eye on the crew well-being, the HSO conducted a research study during the mission, whose objective was to test the feasibility of a general anesthesia protocol on a simulated deconditioned astronaut by untrained unassisted personnel. Each of the five participants in the study completed a familiarization session on the mannequin, and a few days later performed the actual procedure. The results are very encouraging, showing the feasibility and safety of such a protocol. Without assistance, all the participants were able to appropriately and safely perform the general anesthesia. This could provide valuable input in designing medical systems for space exploration missions. The HSO plans to submit the results to a peer-reviewed international journal. The team took advantage of the torso mannequin to rehearse some first-aid and cardio-pulmonary resuscitation techniques.


Journalist Summary (Elizabeth Howell):

Crew 133's journalist updated the public in four main ways: by daily written updates for MDRS, by taking photos, by completing the crew video and also writing frequent stories for SPACE.com. Written updates focused on how the crew was feeling or what they were thinking, as opposed to describing in detail what they were doing, so as not to overlap with the commander's report. Photos focused on the highlight activities of the day, most especially when EVAs were occurring, as these were images that were likely to grab the public's attention. 

The crew video, although it was produced by the journalist, required participation from others to make it work, and other crew members came through in spades. Crew members formulated their own 30-90 second summaries of their research for the camera, did the filming and also lit the dim Hab main floor. As of the time this report was written, the video had about 400 views on YouTube.

Howell is a freelancer for SPACE.com and sent pictures and updates every day to the website, which published them frequently during the mission. Updates focused on items such as how a Marswalk is conducted, how crew members cook food and the science performed on site. Additionally, Howell and Crock did a Q&A with SPACE.com readers by video that was published on the website. Howell sent updates to the public through Twitter and Google+ and received between 100-200 e-mails and individually directed comments from people following the mission, as well as dozens of comments on the articles themselves.


Astronomer Summary (Pedro Diaz-Rubin):

At handover the Astronomer was initially introduced to the telescope by Crew 132’s Astronomer Nick as he performed a two star alignment and pointed the telescope towards Jupiter.  Unfortunately due to sickness, followed by bad weather, contributions to the telescope research projects did not begin until the second week.  At the beginning of the second week, the Astronomer with assistance by the Engineer tested the telescope and CCD camera and the following night pointed the telescope to Andromeda, the double Cluster, the Pleiades and the Moon.  He also invited crew out to observe and take pictures of Jupiter.  A pair of shooting stars was sighted that night as well.  The following night he captured Europa's end of transit on the CCD camera and did more observations of Jupiter.

In addition to the astronomy project, the Astronomer assisted other crew in their projects as well, helping with GreenHab duties and radio telescope set-up.


Engineer / Radio Astronomer Summary (Joseph Jessup):

Crew 133 directly participated and assisted the Engineer in three geologic surveys of the MDRS landing area for elevation, lat-long and strata identification.  GPS coordinates from the surveys were plotted into the base map upon return from each survey.  A total of 10 points in a 10 km area quickly revealed how remarkably flat topography dating back over ~210 M.Y..  Visual identification, the application of the law of superposition, and simple onsite elevation readings confirmed very level past topography, and ARC GIS was used to create the initial water flow patterns of the original sea bed that existed before cross cutting erosion began. The AR GIS map is around 65% completed, but will need a couple of more weeks to complete all 8 layers of the project.

Installation of the new radio-telescope began with selecting the most level spot near the HAB that would not interfere with ground operations, and selecting proper East-West placement of masts.  The installation in EVA took approximately 2 hours, and concluded with cutting out a degraded part of existing Coaxial cable from HAB and adding new ends for new radio telescope installation.  Peter Detterline shipped out original MDRS Jove receiver which was repaired and put back into operation as a backup to the new Jove receiver which the Engineer brought and left on site for crew 139 and future crews to work with. The Engineer Installed Skypipe II and Radio Jove Pro software on Observatory laptop per Peter's instructions, purchased new License/activation keys for MDRS, and activated both software packages.   The system was tested at both night and daytime for proper operation and reception of solar and Jovian radio signals in the ~20 MHZ range. The Engineer is going to purchase a spare tuner knob and a noise suppression filter for the older MDRS receiver; although it functions just fine, the system could use some noise suppression.

The Engineer also assisted Team 133's Astronomy member in operation of the Celestron NEXSTAR system, and the San Bernardino Instruments Group CCD imaging software and camera.  Diaz-Rubin quickly became highly competent in operation of the observatory.  The Astronomy project was successfully completed for the most part even taking into account the numerous nights of clouds and poor seeing.