MDRS Crew 140 (Team Peru II) Posts Final Mission Report
The following is the final mission report of Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) Crew 140. A full review of this year's activities and research at MDRS will be presented at the 17th Annual International Mars Society Convention, to be held August 7-10, 2014 at the South Shore Harbor Resort in League City, Texas (outside Houston near NASA’s Johnson Space Center).
Hi everyone. We are the Crew 140 (Team Peru II) of the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) and have provided a brief summary about our projects and experiences at the Mars simulation habitat in southern Utah.
One of the interesting challenge of living on Mars is managing of scarce resources like fuel, food and, on top of it all, water. The main responsibility of the Crew engineer was the continuous control of the use of these resources; therefore he was at all times giving the rest of the crew updates about the current consumption. The project implemented by our Engineer was a sensor of water flow installed on the lab faucet and some of our daily activities were done there so he could measure them. We all learned to be more cautious and more efficient with our use of water. He also delighted us with his unusual sense of humor. Luiggi Tello served as our Crew Enginner.
Regarding the Greenhab, the plants that were already there when we arrived were growing well during our field rotation. Nevertheless there were some observations. First, one of the first days it rained, and we noticed gaps in the structure. These gaps are only in the inner cover of the structure but rain water found its way inside the Greenhab. Then we had problems with the temperature and humidity, for the temperature we were told to open both doors if it got too hot, that would not be possible in real Mars as the conditions that plants need would get lost by doing so. In the case of humidity it was always under 20%, what is really low for a green house. It was decided to fill some buckets with water and have them open inside the Greenhab. That did not help much as it remained under 20%. We think the reason are the gaps and the windows that are open the whole day to get it cooler inside. There should be a study regarding how to implement the Greenhab to turn it into a more realistic habitat for plant growing in Mars. Finally we noticed that the two rooms (experiment room and herb room) had slightly different conditions. It would be great to design a Greenhab which can have different habitats for different plants. The quinoa project had a very low germination rate, and we think that the reason is that regardless of its resistances the humidity was too low for it. We hope they continue to grow with the Crew 141 who decided to continue with this project. Adolfo Ubidia has been our Greenhab/Biologist.
As a member of Team Peru II and Executive Officer of the Crew 140, Diego Guillén dared to face many responsibilities, develop very ambitious projects and take the amazing voyage to Mars. He helped the Commander, Jorge Mirez, with the daily coordination on Mars. The trekking poles had many difficulties due to the failure of some sensors during the travel: the force resistant sensor was bent and damaged during the flight and the bending sensor did not support the rough conditions on Mars. Nevertheless, important data was acquired for further analysis. Moreover he used many different image enhancements for the footprints analysis and left much data for further analysis. Additionally, he was working with Luiggi, the Crew Engineer, on the Design of a Saving Water Plan, which was very successfully. On the other hand, he helped all the crew members to carry out their projects whenever they needed some help.
Furthermore, there was an unfortunate accident during our Mars simulation. Our Health Safety Officer, Ruth Quispe, had an accident while riding on an ATV. Jorge and Diego took her to see a paramedic for first aid, and the next day to the hospital, which was around 2 hours away from the Hab. However, she thinks this was an incredible experience and being in the MDRS is a great opportunity to make people believe that our dreams can be reached, despite how difficult they are. She would like to motivate more Peruvians to fantasize about space trips, so they would do more research in their academic life, something Peru lacks.
The greenhouse on Mars will be the main power source of life of the first inhabitants on the Martian surface. Due to the strong ultra violet rays on the Red Planet, Luciana Tenorio (Crew Journalist & EVA Engineer), considered a fabric/filter 100% UV, besides the material of the fabric is a nonwoven polyester which covers the aluminum frames (icosahedrons). This small shelter from the harmful UV rays was born from the need for shade during the days of solar intensity on Mars, in the Utah desert, where the greenhouse plants die burned by the strong intensity through the skin of polycarbonate (actual covering of the greenhouse). The project of Luciana was testing this second skin over the fourth rib of the greenhouse structure to see how the plant growing developments takes place during our two weeks of the research. During the first week the temperature inside the greenhouse lowered a little bit, but in the second week the temperature grew much more outside. As the project spanned only a very small portion of the greenhouse, we feel that it would have been very successful in achieving its goals if it had been placed over the entire surface of the Greenhab.
Ruth said: "One of the basic pillars to settle on Mars is the search for evidence of life. This includes various aspects such as being able to find the exact or approximate coordinates for the samples. Even though, we did not find endolithic, epilithic or criptoendolithic microorganism evidence in the first EVA. We continued looking for signs of microbial life in the Following Geology EVA. Finally, we found different species of lichens on the surface of the rocks and for the morphology, captured by a camera photograph, it was possible to recognize.
The environment in the surroundings of the MDRS was awesome because it has beautiful geology formations and variety of microbial life and plants, but on the other hand, this last characteristic gives the place less value as Martian analog because it is not very similar to Red Planet. Considering this incredible simulation, I can say that the search for life on Mars in situ is one of the most complicated things that can be done, because without the help of a Martian rover, we have to be careful with the use of oxygen, the travel time and return path.
On project Jorge mentions that he brought the main parts from Peru, while the secondary pieces were made in the workshop of MDRS using the tools and materials available there. Tests on the first floor and out of MDRS were satisfactory, both on flat ground and spongy soil. Even though the original materials are heavy (made of iron ) he considers his ergonomic backpack (called “Akunta 1”) project feasible with two accessories: a bicycle/stretcher (called “MPC 1”) and spider robot (called “Ancasi 1”). The latter suffered a malfunction in one of its batteries, and it has not been possible to replace it. Jorge considers these days to have been very intensive periods of study, research, testing, reflection and critical analysis of each performed activity. As commander of Crew 140, Jorge said we have borne the simulation period, shared work and experiences and provided assistance to each other when needed.
Thank you very much for reading our mission summary.
MDRS Crew 140
Jorge Mirez – Commander
Diego Guillén – Executive Office (XO)
Luiggi Tello – Crew Engineer
Ruth Quispe – Health Safety Office (HSO) / Geologist
Roberto Adolfo Ubidia – Greenhab / Biologist
Luciana Tenorio – Journalist / EVA Engineer