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Final Mission Report

MarsWithoutBorders Crew 145

MarsWithoutBorders (MWOB) Expedition 1, Crew145 was a group of international, interdisciplinary and intercultural team of scientists, engineers, space physicians and artists. Our aim was to create and test capabilities related to enable future Human Missions to Mars. To that end, MWOB conducted its first expedition at the Mars Desert Research Station with Crew 145 led by Crew Commander, Susan Jewell MD, a veteran MDRS Analog Astronaut (as the HSO for Crew134 and a finalist for MA365 Artic competition as HSO /Journalist for FMARS MA365 Crew144). Crew 145 comprised of Crew Engineer/ Robotics, Matteo Borrei, XO/Crew Scientist, Michal Czapski, and HSO/Greenhab Officer, Julielynn Wong MD.
From the very start of the mission the overwhelming obstacles, the large number of projects, and reduced size of the crew challenged the team to its limits both physically and mentally. The original crew of seven members was reduced to four which increased the physical and operational workloads and tasks planned for a larger team. These overwhelming odds played against our mission success during the two week expedition.  Additionally, Dr Jewell completed two prior consecutive weeks in simulation and first to conduct a back-to-back mission when she took commandership of MDRS Station as Crew145 from Crew144 on 13th December 2014.
However, the collaborative, collective team work and effective reorganization and restructuring of the internal schedules and re-allocation of project payloads, redistribution of roles and responsibilities permitted strong bonding and crew cohesion to enable completion and the ultimate success of the mission. Furthermore, the successful collaborations with remote teams of scientists and space organizations supported the crew to fully engage in the multiple approved scientific, medical, psychological, robotics and technological studies along with several social media public outreach and space art projects during the expedition.

Yoga & Mindfulness Meditation:
Crew Commander Susan Jewell MD initiated an IRB approved quantitative investigation on the utility of yoga and mindfulness meditation to mitigate negative effects of isolation
and confinement in an extreme environment; a pre-pilot feasibility project conducted in early 2014 at MDRS. The study will continue with several crews during this field season.
The use of complementary medical approaches has been found to strengthen preventive countermeasures and contribute to their effectiveness in many environments. This study employed innovative technologies, such as Virtual Reality (Google’s I am Cardboard 3D VR) and Google Glass (GG), which will be used in latter crews, to deliver the exercises. The study will continue to measure the impact of these countermeasures via noninvasive body-computer-interface EEG head devices, standardized self-report measures of stress, coping and well-being as well as bio-behavioral measures of stress.

3D Printing & 3D Printed Surgical Tools:
MWOB Crew145 was the first crew to be approved to test the 3D Printer technology at MDRS. Susan Jewell MD successfully demonstrated the integration and testing on-demand and real-time printing of several prototype 3D printed surgical tools and feasibility of use in training non-medical crews in surgical procedures during telesurgery simulations.  Dr. Julielynn Wong showed it was possible to 3D print functional dental instruments and customized finger splints. The incorporation and creative ingenuity of Crew Engineer Matteo Borri, the 3D printer was operated under solar power and was used to rig fixes to life support systems on-site. The modular solar panels worked better than expected, with one charging a UAV overnight and six managing to operate a 3D printer despite their small surface area and the fact that we tested them over the winter solstice (at minimum insolation). The design is now made available on open source ( see link below)  Bank switching proved to be significantly more efficient than buck or boost converters and Matteo built a small PCB with a switch bank for quick voltage/current selection. The existing battery management model has proven adequate for field work. Next iterations will be to develop a better standardization of connectors. The solar-powered 3D printer worked better than expected, with minor tuning giving us two prints a day rather than one. These clever solutions included an elbow joint for the spacesuit air hose connector. The emergency scalpel design took very little time to complete (conceivably, it could have been designed, printed, and assembled while the medical EVA was taking place) and performed well in testing with the claw attachment.  

Terrain Scouting and Geological EVA
Crew Scientist Michal Czapski and Crew Engineer Matteo Borri conducted several scouting EVAs. In a mission to Mars, it is essential to characterize rocks as they can help guide researchers to the origins of the rocks and their movement patterns, possible forms of life and possible sources of water. The project require crew member to gather samples and process them and mapping of the habitat’s external environment in order to quantify the location of samples and to develop strategies for sampling. In this approach we integrated robotics (rovers / UAVs) equipped with cameras for surveying and scouting.  The goal of this project was to test and integrate robotics to improve field operations, data collection, storage, and analysis from both the planetary field crews and the remote scientist team. We decided to focus on geological study of exhumed fluvial channels, as those channels are reminiscent of water, which can also suggest biological activity in this region. We used 5 different robots in this study: two flying copters equipped with camera for aerial scouting / photography; two rovers of different size operated on site or remotely from the Hab and one pneumatic system to launch a portable camera in thin atmosphere conditions, where rotorcrafts might not be able to operate. Both rotorcraft-type UAVs successfully collected useful aerial pictures, however it was difficult to control them in thick gloves as well as keep them suspended above the site for a longer moment. Windy conditions only increased those difficulties. The rovers were able to cross the terrain and identify fluvial features by a remote scientist from the Hab, however bigger obstacles required a lot of maneuvering to make the rover move forward. The smaller rover, so-called antbot because of its relatively small size undercarriage of a human palm, could be used to study geological cavities, which might be difficult to access by the scouting crew. The pneumatic launching system is easy to use and can collect short-time footage. Although the altitude reached wasn’t high, the proof-of-concept showed its feasibility. All collected data can be quickly retrieved after EVA or be transmitted to the base in real time.

Medical EVA, Search & Rescue, Robotics
Commander Dr Jewell and a team of remote space physicians tested the ability for a small crew to perform coordinated and efficient search & rescue operations, medical evaluation and treatment of a simulated life-threatening emergency during an MEVA in addition to testing the feasibility of 3D printing surgical tools on-demand in real-time to perform surgical protocols, Crew Engineer Matteo Borrei tested feasibility of using a 3D Printer application for the telemedicine and geological protocols. The larger-size Renegade rover worked better than expected, and was able to carry a person-sized dummy astronaut payload without additional active components, despite its small size. To optimize the study in the next iteration:  increase efficiency of the power management, use single extension cord for camera servo and analog video, and develop a sensor suite. The smaller Antbot rovers proved to have a hard time navigating the soft sand, but this was solved with wider treads and automated traction control. What to work on next:  Develop longer range switch from 2.4 Ghz to 900Mhz. The UAVs were successful in assisting terrain scouting search and rescue recovery and evacuation, of the dummy injured astronaut during the simulated medical EVAs. What to work on next: Integrate a toggleable recovery beacon or GPS on the UAVs during the simulation.  Matteo conducted several flyovers of the habitat for 3D scanning purposes.

Computational Fashion and Space Art:
Commander Dr Jewell and Remote Artist CarrieMae Rose tested an early novel prototype energy Crystalline Bodysuit; a garment that would be used to bridge between hard science, innovative wearable technology, and complementary medicine with the potential to strengthen the
neurological system and physiological capability of the heart and mind to improve the wellness and enhance quality of life for future astronauts. EEG data was collected using the MUSE headsets. This study will continue throughout the field season with other upcoming crews.

The aim of this project is to generate several sets of photos of the sky using tools available at the Musk Observatory and disseminate these through the MWOB website and social media to increase interest in amateur astronomy for STEM education and public outreach.  However, the conditions during the rotation of the Crew 145 were not favorable and most time the night sky was covered with clouds. There were only a few nights during which night observations were possible. Michal learnt how to use the Musk observatory however it took some time due to cold weather conditions, which didn’t permit crew to stay outside for a very long time. Also the tutorial for beginners didn’t motion the usage of Telrad, which is a great help especially for a beginner. He was also able to connect his Nikon7000 DLSR camera through T-adapter and T-Ring. Michal took pictures of Mirach and Jupiter along with pictures of the night sky using the DSLR. It was a wonderful experience for the team to spend some downtime in the observatory and just look in awe at the endless blanket of brilliant stars against the blackness of the night sky.  
Public Outreach and Social Media:

The crew team participated in several STEAM, education, social media and public outreach with space related organizations, such as, the Ontario Science Center at NASA Challenger
Learning Center, International Space University, Space Varsity, Polish Network TV, and Austrian Space Forum, OWEF. The team was featured in several online national articles, such as, ABC network and will be featured in an upcoming documentary film “SpaceRace2”.

As a small crew we knew our mission plan was very ambitious but we were confident that no matter the difficulties during the journey we were totally focused with the tasks on hand, and with continued support from each other, we learned to overcome the obstacles and succeeded in attaining our mission objectives. For Crew145…failure was never an option.

We wish to thank Shannon Rupert, Sheryl Bishop, Jean Hunter, the MDRS management team, all the volunteers who worked as CapCom and who gave their time to MDRS, Dr Robert Zubrin, Mike Stolz and all Mars Society team for giving us support during this field season and for the inspiration and your dedication to continuing the expansion of humans to Mars over the years.