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Mission Plan

RAR2 Mission Plan

RAR2 is an international team with a large variety of skills. In February 2014, the Reliability and Redundancy (RAR) mission performed structural and power assessments and provided a concrete plan and methodology for an upgrade of the MDRS habitat in order to increase its performance, efficiency, reliability and redundancy. For the season 2014 – 2015, RAR2 will focus on emergency procedures for planetary exploration. This follows up work started by members of the RAR2 team during the 120-day HI-SEAS mission in June 2014 and during the 30-day mission within the University of North Dakota (UND) analogue habitat in September 2014. Emergency procedures for planetary missions are early in development.

The aim of this mission is to study emergency scenarios in the habitat and on EVA and test associated emergency procedures in simulation. Emergency scenarios in the habitat include depressurization and fire. Emergency scenarios during EVAs include loss of communication, injury of a crew member and loss of visibility. These scenarios will be tested multiple times to gather useful and meaningful data. From the data collected the team will analyze emergency procedures, the response of critical systems, and key points of failure enabling the crew to provide recommendations on emergency procedures for future Martian bases. This follows-up with testing done at the HI-SEAS habitat and at the UND habitat. The aim is to gather more data with different analog habitats and mission durations.

Our team will also perform a pilot study aimed at evaluating the sensorimotor process or the perceived egocentric distance (PED) when put in abnormal situations like motion or loss of spatial landmark. It was already tested on subjects on Earth and in microgravity during one parabolic flight campaign. The aim here is to perform the tests wearing spacesuits during an EVA and evaluate the differences in response.

Each EVA will also include a dust contamination mitigation experiment, since MDRS’s dry external environment provides a high fidelity platform to investigate mitigation techniques against dust contamination.

Another big experiment during our mission is the astronomy. Multiple times during the mission, we will observe the night sky and make astrophotography. The focus will be set on Jupiter moons transit but our crew astronomer prepared a full program of other spectacular objects to observe.

Our crew will be active in public outreach during our mission. Our crew journalist has a very busy planning ahead of her, including a daily article in a French newspaper, videos for an online show, a podcast, and a very exciting tutorial project.

Our crew is very attached to the meaning of being in sim and is determined to get the most out of this simulation. We installed many rules, on top of MDRS strict rules on simulation, including checking emails only twice a day (“in batch”) as it would be in a real mission on Mars, and waiting 40 min to access a webpage, to simulate the longest distance between the Earth and Mars. We are also implementing a work-out routine, as this would be the case on Mars to counter measure bone and muscle loss due to low gravity.

We are looking forward to these exciting two weeks, after getting a taste of living on Mars for two days.