Final Crew Report - Crew 139B
Prepared by Paulina Sidwell
Our crew had been preparing for months, and finally, the time had come. On Saturday, April 5th, we landed on Mars and gazed at the Hab and the gorgeous landscape it is surrounded by, for the first time. The crew, composed of Executive Officer Joshua MacFie, biologist Kelsey Compagnon, chemist Dylan Kirby, astronomer Kyle Flaherty, HSO and geologist Liz Painter, and myself, Commander Paulina Sidwell, set foot in the Hab on Saturday afternoon and began our mission.
We spent a few hours being briefed by crew 139A, who did a fantastic job getting us up to speed and showing us what our duties and tasks would be for the following week. Having been here before, I was impressed by the clean state the Hab was in and the recent renovations that had been done. However, we also learned that we would be sharing the Hab with a family of Martian rodents that refused to vacate the facilities despite previous crews’ efforts. We said goodbye to crew 139A, and began our activities. As we settled in, the crew started feeling the excitement and anticipation of waking up Sunday in-sim.
Our mission had several components. Being a crew composed of students and faculty, we had objectives that needed to be achieved as a group, and objectives that were to be met individually. As a group, we wanted to keep the simulation as realistic as possible. We wanted to learn all about Martian ways and contribute to isolation and simulation studies. This meant working hard to continue the efforts of previous crews to keep the Hab in good shape, grow different plants in the GreenHab, and fill out accurate reports to help Mission Support keep up with what is happening in the Hab. Individually, the students in the crew had individual research projects in various fields, for which specific data needed to be collected to take back to Earth for further analysis.
The crew quickly got into its new routine. In the morning, one of the crew members would wake the crew up with music of their choosing, and we would have breakfast together. Then, we would have a short meeting and would split the crew into two groups. One group would go on EVA in the morning, and the other would repeat the EVA in the afternoon. While one group was gone, the other group would spend time in the Hab working on independent research, analyzing samples collected during EVAs, cooking, cleaning, or preparing for the upcoming EVA. The crew made it a point to have meals together, so at around 0500 hours, while some crew members tended to the GreenHab or engineering duties, crew members prepared dinner, which followed immediately after. At 0700 hours, CapComm window would open, and we all worked on reports and communicated issues or concerns with Mission Support. At 0900 hours, when CapComm window closed, we filled out Sim Logs for Dylan’s research, and we had a meeting about the how the day went, and what the plan for the following day would be. The crew typically decompressed at the end of the day by playing cards or other fun games. On nights when the sky cleared up, we headed to the observatory, where Kyle, our crew Astronomer, helped us see Jupiter, Polaris, Betelgeuse, the Moon, and other celestial bodies.
Although we had a set routine, every day was different from the one before. The faced challenges that tested our skills and knowledge. We faced changing weather, internet outages, Martian rodents, home-sickness, and even had a camera crew come and film MDRS on one of the days. These changes in our routine were faced with a great attitude and a spirit of adventure by everyone in the crew. We even caught about ten rodents!
Overall, the crew chemistry and teamwork could not have been better. The contributions of each of the crew members were vital to the success of our mission. We all helped each other whenever possible, and there was never a lack of volunteers to cook, clean, or lead in a particular task. We worked hard every day, but we had immense fun doing it. The GreeHab is looking better each day; we were able to find ways to work with the resources given to us; we remained healthy and safe; we had a great experience staying in-sim; crew members with individual research projects were able to collect the necessary data to continue their research back on Earth; we successfully completed all scheduled EVAs; all learning objectives of these EVAs were attained. It has been a privilege to lead this amazing group of individuals. We look forward to continuing our research back home, but hope to someday come back to MDRS. It has been an out-of-this-world experience for all of us.
Commander, Crew 139B