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Mars Desert Research Station

Crew 97 Summary Report

For further information on the Mars Society, visit our website at www.marssociety.org

The 2011 field season of the Mars Desert research Station (MDRS) has begun. The following is the summary report of MDRS crew 97, which operated the MDRS from January 1, 1011 to January 15, 2011. Crew 98, an all Romanian team, has now taken over, and will operate the station until January 30, when they will hand it over to yet another crew. Daily reports on the activity at the MDRS are being posted at www.mdrs2011.com. A complete report on this year's field season will be given at the 14th international Mars Society convention to be held at the Embassy Suites Hotel Dallas Texas, August 4-7, 2011.


Mars Desert Research Station Crew 97 Summary Report 

Crew 97 is a diverse team composed of various backgrounds and skill-sets which blend together to perform research at the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) for the purpose of enhancement of knowledge for future missions to Mars. As the crew was assigned by Mission Support, MDRS was their initial personal interaction. The crew developed as a productive team to effectively conduct Mars simulation and scientific experiments. 

Crew 97 was led by Commander Judah Epstein, who is a veteran at MDRS. He is a worldwide adventurer with various experience and training, educated and worked as an engineer, and currently in training as a geologist. The Executive Officer and Human Factors Researcher, Jim Crowell, is a student in Earth and Space Exploration. Jim is also an avid adventurer and works at NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera. Amanda Damptz is the Crew's Geologist who is studying Earth and Environmental Science. Amanda has experience working at the EPA as well as NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. Lucinda Land is the Crew's Automated Exploration Scientist. Lucinda is the Executive Director of the Mars Society, science teacher, and works at NASA Ames organizing the Spaceward Bound program. Tonya Thompson is the Crew Usability Engineer. Tonya is a PhD student in Human Computer Interaction and Complex Systems. Additionally she is a NASA research fellow and works at the NASA Ames Research Center. The Crew Engineer is Nathan Wong who is studying Engineering Mechanics and Astronautics. Nathan also works at NASA, at the Glenn Research Center and Marshall Space Flight Center.

Although each day in Martian simulation was a unique adventure, there was a sort of regularity to the schedule. The crew awoke at 07:30am each morning for breakfast. And as astronauts to Mars would do to maintain muscle balance in zero or reduced gravity, the crew did morning exercises such as stretching, leg exercises, pushups, and situps. During the day activities were conducted such as a morning EVA, lunch, one to three afternoon EVAs, engineering maintenance and repair, scientific analysis, and psychophysiological testing on each crew-member three times throughout each day to measure effective emotional response to digital images and sounds in a spacehab environment. The evenings consisted of dinner and then report writing, followed by individual tasks such as scientific analysis of collected data. All crew-members participated in a rotation in which one day of every three days the crew-member was assigned to cooking and cleaning duties and was allotted the opportunity to take a (cold) shower.

Along with the participation in the ongoing Mars Society experiment of the Food Study, Crew 97 has conducted several unique and innovative experiments relevant to our crew's diverse skill-sets.


Crew 97 conducted the following experiments within the constraints of simulation through ExtraVehicular Activities (EVAs) and in-Hab analysis:

-- Psychophysiological and Perceived Affective Response to Valenced Images and Sounds in a Simulated Mars Habitat

-- Sedimentary Water Filtration in a Planetary Environment

-- Rock Varnish Collection and analysis for life-forms

-- Satellite Imagery Comparison Study

-- Geologic Water Gully and Slush Flow Analysis

-- Examination and analysis of the usability of the Hab and EVA activities in regards to efficiency, human factors, and personalization in a confined space and limited resources

-- Sandstorm Martian Robotic Rover and Gigapan Testing



The following report documents the repairs and maintenance performed on the Hab during the rotation of crew 97 under the supervision of chief engineer Nathan Wong. 

Hot Water HeaterAt the beginning of the rotation the hot water heater did not work. Judah and myself performed preliminary troubleshooting on the unit as well as finding the manual and electrical diagram online. DG was able to connect the electrical and gas wires together to give the unit proper power and turn it on. Current Status: Hot Water Heater is working.

EVA Suit Packs Suit three was not operational when the rotation started. This was due to a missing fuse cap. No spare fuse caps were found so a bypass of the fuse was created. This was consistent with how pack five was when we arrived. Current Status: Packs three and five need new fuse caps. Spare fuse caps should also be purchased. There are also only 5 working earpieces.

ATV's At the start of the rotation it was very cold and the ATV's were not starting. Repairs were made to spirit so that it performed better in the cold. All ATV's were operational by the end of the rotation. Current Status: Viking I only starts via pull cord (the electric start does not work) this is very difficult to do in the suit. Repairs should be made to this ATV.

Black Water Line: The toilet line was very slow to flush. We tried to snake the line and came to a blockage that we could not get past. We then tried heating the line and it began to flush a little better but not back to normal. Current Status: The line should go back to normal once the weather heats up.

Grey Water Line: The pump leading to the toilet was repaired. The bladder was originally installed the wrong way. This helped create pressure in the grey water line. Later in the rotation the line from the Hab to the grey water tank froze and came loose. This wasted our grey water and did not fill the grey water tank. Repairs were made on the last day of the rotation, but the grey water tank does not have enough water to pump into the filter tank yet. When the grey water line was working the filter tank was slow to filter. An inch of sand was removed from the filter tank, but grey water has not been generated to test this yet.

Current status: Grey water tank is very empty, preliminary repairs were made on the grey water line from the Hab to the grey water tank, but final repairs need to still be made. 

Plants: The plants for the Greenhab were received during the rotation. Response from Mission Support says that they are dormant as the weather is very cold. Current Status: The plants are in the GreenHab.



Multiple times throughout the rotation the power went out at the Hab. To resolve this issue the breaker had to be reset. The first time this happened we tried to restart the generator, but the procedures were not complete in the handbook. We will notify upcoming crews of the proper way to reset the generator.

Current Status: The power at the Hab occasionally drops out, but the fix is a simple reset of the breaker.


Potable Water

At the start of the rotation the potable water line from the outside Hab tank to the inside Hab tank was frozen. A new line was installed to help prevent freezing, but it still froze. This line was easy to thaw out with the blowtorch. The outside housing of the tank was also painted black to absorb more solar energy.

Current Status: The line from the outside potable water tank to the Hab potable water tank is working.


Experiment Repair

Repairs were made on experiment equipment used for the psychophysiological study.

Current Status: The study could be completed.



The webcams in the observatory started out in the wrong spot, and after some of the outages the webcams failed to refresh properly. These issues were resolved. Current Status: The webcams are working properly.


Rock Varnish Study

In addition to the many engineering responsibilities, the Crew Engineer also performed a Rock Varnish Study. While at MDRS, Nathan Wong collected rock samples that have varnish on them to be studied later back at university. This study is based on one done by Nathan's advising professor, Dr. Kimberly Kuhlman of the Planetary Science Institute. It has been found that signs of bacteria can be found in the rock varnish where the surrounding soils can be devoid of life. Not many details are known about how or why the varnish can support bacteria, but samples are continually being collected throughout the world. The samples collected at MDRS will help provide more data for this ongoing study.


Sandstorm Robotic Rover and Gigapan

What I came out to do: Use the GPS logging software and the Gigapan camera in conjunction with the rover to do "low impact" field science to preserve the geology in the area.

Automated Exploration Scientist, Lucinda Land, came to MDRS to test a NASA/Nor Cal Mars Society rover as part of their ongoing MDRS rover project. Her research was to test the batteries, temperature, and router range with using the rover in the sim Mars environment.

What I did: Lucinda was sent the J class Sensetta rover along with a laptop and router. She tested the battery usage in the cold environment and length of use, as well as router range. The "Sandstorm" rover is connected to a laptop for control with the use of a wireless network that we call Maxnet. There is software on the laptop that controls the rover called RunWizard and is used along with a joystick. The software was created by NorCal Mars Society members and NASA engineers. The Automated Exploration Scientist used the rover both inside and outside the Hab. She first made sure that the rover was functioning. This was Sandstorm's third attempt and she had never been successfully started at MDRS. She functioned well here on her third visit with Crew 97. Sandstorm was able to do four EVAs and travel many meters with the router both inside and outside the Hab. Her only limitations were hilly landscape and battery life. Lucinda used the GPS logging software to log a path that the rover took as well as points of interest to later integrate with imagery of geology taken with the Gigapan camera.


Initially all systems were nominal with Sandstorm. She started up successfully, connected and drove around the inside of the Hab capturing video without any problems. She was first taken outside with the router inside and was successfully driven for approximately 193.12 meters. After several trials to take her outside with her router outside she logged an additional 48 meters for a total of 241.40 meters. Batteries in this temperature seemed to work fine. Average temperatures were between -6 degrees Celsius and 3 degrees Celsius. Battery life ranged from 45 minutes to an hour. This will have to be compared with her use in 20 degree Celsius weather back in Silicon Valley. I believe her life there lasted about the same time. Her only other issues were with hilly terrain and video feedback. When outdoors with the router, video often froze and locating her position and driving her remotely proved difficult. Getting oral feedback from and accompanying Marsonaut was helpful when this would happen. It was not the terrain that was the issue with video freeze at would happen outside when the rover was 3 meters away from the router. Inside video feedback was nominal even when the rover was farther than 3 meters away. One reason for this might be having less interference inside the Hab than outside. Also, as the rover was farther away video became useless and reliance on Marsonaut was essential. Farther away and out of line of site sometimes rendered the rover inoperable and she had to be closer in or from behind a hill. The GPS software didn't work so well this time around. It was not logging the path. The Gigapan camera functioned well and took many panoramas of the local geology. 


Sandstorm with Crew 97 was a success from the get go; with her initial start-up and problem free connection. She had four successful EVAs and her use was recorded by distance and battery length. With further testing and fine tuning of her GPS software (a new feature) she will be soon aiding Marsonauts on "low impact" geologic EVAs.


The surrounding terrain of MDRS, located in Hanksville, Utah, is an ideal location for terrestrial analogs of gully forms observed on Mars. Mars is a cold, dry planet with annual temperatures below freezing year round. There are some locations and times of the year when temperatures are above freezing and evaporation rates low enough that water would be capable of flowing.

Slush flows occur when water saturated snow masses are mobilized when snow melt, rainfall, or both increases the water content of the snow. Because slush flows derive their moisture from melting of the snow pack there is recurrence. As a result, the flows produce striations and grooves in the regolith. The hillslopes around the MDRS exhibit slush flow processes. Prior to Crew 97's arrival to the Hab, 1-2 inches of snow accumulated in the Hanksville region. An increase in temperatures the following two weeks of Crew 97's stay allowed for the study of slush flow occurrence which strongly resemble "gullies" on Mars.

Analysis of ten gullies produced by slush flows around MDRS has been performed by Amanda Damptz, the Crew Geologist. At each location specific data has been gathered including but not limited to GPS, photographs, description of debris flow. Gullies on the eastward facing slopes exhibited the fastest rate of mobilized snow melt during the two week stay. Saturation of the slopes due to the snow melt made climbing up to the top to take data difficult. Often, good specimens had to be abandoned for climbable slopes.

The aprons and carved channels in the steep slopes produced by the snow melt provided an appropriate analog for Martian gully development. The data collected will be compared against HiRISE and other high resolution images to further investigate the possibility of slush flows as terrestrial analogs of gully forms observed on Mars.

An additional role that the Crew Geologist supervised was the Food Study. Crew 97 maintained a strict diet following the protocols of the study and completed questionnaires in regard to type of consumption and mental states at the end of each day. Through food constraints and respective personal reactions, the crew learned of the sensitivity of the subject of food. There are such strong reactions to food; it is perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of the simulation to fully maintain.


Water Filtration

The Crew Commander completed a project to explore the effectiveness of a slow sand sedimentary water filtration system in a planetary environment. To simulate a planetary environment the experiment was conducted at the Mars Desert Research Station, a self-sustaining planetary research experiment and simulation expedition.

The filter development is comprised of washed Martian regolith simulants (JSC Mars-1A) which are chemically similar to the Mars surface sample analyzed at the Viking lander 1 site. Two additional filters were created; one with the filter media comprised of commercially purchased sand, and the third filter comprised of locally found sand regolith at the Mars Desert Research Station obtained during an EVA while in Martian Simulation.

The slow sand water filtration system was compared to the currently existing system. Current space missions utilize advanced technology such as reverse osmosis and nanotechnology. Water filtration at the Mars Desert Research Station is conducted utilizing a wetland-type system in an enclosed GreenHab where aerobic bacteria break down contaminants and a series of five different tanks with wetland-type plants remove nitrogen and other contaminants in a denitrification process.

Influent was greywater to the system which is then filtered and reused as input water to the toilet system. Further improvements of this process could lead to the output of the filtration system to be suitable for potable use.

Through the sedimentary filtration project, the output water from the slow sand filter was analyzed and tested for its productive use as compared to the water effluent from the current wetland system. Proper scientific analysis will determine if the:-- Slow sand filtration system is not a suitable replacement or backup for the wetland system-- Slow sand filtration is a suitable replacement or backup for the wetland system and can potentially be utilized in the place of the wetland system-- Slow sand filtration is an optimal solution as compared to the wetland system and should likely be utilized in the place of the wetland system-- Slow sand filtration produces potable water and is a definite improvement and should thus be considered as a primary water filtration source as compared with other advanced technological systems such as reverse osmosis and nanotechnology

The major benefit of exploring feasibility of a slow sand filtration system is that this system is an age-old proven technology for over 150 years. In the case of space exploration to other planets such as Mars, success of new technology is mandatory; especially in the case of life-sustaining systems such as water. On a long term space expedition, failure of an advanced water purification system would likely lead to death of the astronauts and thus the end of the scientific mission. Advanced water purification technologies are a great development to bring to new worlds, but plans must be enabled in case of failures. Long-term expeditions in remote and planetary environments need to be able to adapt and utilize basic and proven alternative methods with locally available resources. The advantage of a slow sand filtration system is that the entire system could be developed in a planetary environment utilizing locally found materials on the planetary environment without necessity for electrical or power input. By studying the feasibility of the system beforehand in a simulated planetary environment, future planetary expeditions could have knowledge of developing such a system in an emergency scenario and know what to expect in terms of creation and its longevity as a potable water solution or extending the availability of the currently source-able potable water.

As a best case scenario of the efficiency as a potable water solution, the slow sand filtration system could not simply be analyzed as a backup in case of emergency, but could be utilized as the main source of water filtration; whereas successful exploration expeditions are often conducted utilizing minimal equipment but instead making use of local resources. In addition to local resources to create the filtration system, the system could also be analyzed as a method to develop potable water from locally found planetary water resources.

Slow sand filters are made up of a bed of sand which is initially about 1 meter in depth, with about 1 meter of supernatant water. Slow sand filters are excellent at removal of microorganisms. This is primarily accomplished through the top layer of the biological activity in the schmutzdecke. This is the slimy surface layer of biological activity, consisting of bacteria, algae, various single and multiple cell organisms, and bits of amorphous organic particulate matter such as fragments of rotting leaves. The schmutzdecke is naturally formed over time through usage of the filter system. In the biological activity of this layer, larger organisms prey upon the small biological particles; as a water filtration mechanism and is responsible for pathogen inactivation and the removal of organics from the influent water.


The following water sources were measured in the project:

-- Slow Sand Filter 1: Martian Regolith Simulant

-- Slow Sand Filter 2: Commercial Sand

-- Slow Sand Filter 3: Local MDRS Utah Sands

-- Filter 4: MDRS HAB Wetland filtration

-- Test 5: Analysis of Greywater properties (before filtration)

-- Test 6: Analysis of MDRS HAB Potable Water Source


The following tools were used to take water measurements:

-- Timer (measuring time of to filter to determine Hydraulic Conductivity)

-- TDS probe (measure Total Dissolved Solids. Results from this sensor may be incorrect.)

-- pH meter (measure pH and Temperature)

-- Qanta Probe (measure Temperature, Specific Conductivity, Dissolved Oxygen, pH, Total Dissolved Solids, Dissolved Oxygen percentage, and Oxidation Reduction Potential) - (DO levels may be incorrect because of bubble in sensor. pH levels may be incorrect due to calibration.)

-- Turbidity Tool (measure Turbidity)

-- Hach Test Strips (measure Hardness, Total Chlorine, Total Bromine, Free Chlorine, Alkalinity, and Cyanuric Acid) -- Measured every 3rd day

-- Jungle Aquarium Test Kit (measure pH, Nitrate, Nitrite, Hardness, and Alkalinity) --

Measured every 3rd day

-- Water Safe Bacteria Test Kit (measures for detection of E.coli, Pseudomonasaeruginosa, species of Shigella, Enterobacter, and many other coliform and noncoliform

bacteria.) -- Measured every 3rd day


All collected data is presented in the Appendix at the end of this Summary Report. 

Based upon results from the experiment it was determined that the slow sand filtration system is not a suitable replacement or backup for the wetland system. But it was determined that the slow sand filters do significantly increase the water quality versus greywater. Therefore, in an emergency scenario, slow sand filtration could be used as a backup to supply influent toilet water if the existing Hab water filtration process has failed, such as in the scenario of a long-term power failure. The advantage of the slow sand filtration system is that the system requires no electrical or power input.

Additional and extensive analysis will be completed on datasets collected from the experiment for a more thorough review and interpretation of the data.


Satellite Imagery Comparison

The Executive Officer / Human Factors Researcher, Jim Crowell, worked on a research project based on the comparison of satellite imagery with in-situ observations taken on the ground. Panoramic images have been taken at several locations near the MDRS and will be compared to satellite imagery of the area to verify types of various geomorphological features. These observations will then provide for better assessments of geomorphological features found in lunar, Martian, and other planetary satellite imagery.



In this project, the Crew Usability Engineer, Tonya Thompson, studied both physiological and self-reported, perceived affective response to different types of digital images and sounds in a spacehab environment. Strong evidence supports the connection between positive emotions and good health. Physical, psychological and cognitive health are all influenced by short-term emotional states as well as longer lasting moods. Emotions can be affected by imagery and sounds. In the study, Tonya compared the affective response of crew members to different types of digital experiences over a two week period. These experiences are comprised of thematically related images and sounds that have been tested for valence in previous studies.88The purpose of the experiment was to study affective response to digital experiences in the extreme living environment of a space habitat.88Subjects:

The subjects are the other 5 volunteer crew members for MDRS Crew 97. There are 3 males and 2 females between the ages of 18 and 45. All are researchers and have an experiment of their own planned for the MDRS. Each subject holds a position in the crew in addition to the role of mission scientist/researcher. The crew positions are:

-- Commander / Health & Safety Officer

-- Executive Officer / Human Factors Researcher

-- Crew Geologist

-- Crew Engineer

-- Automated Exploration Scientist

-- Usability Engineer

Method & Measurements

For the purpose of the study, the Usability Engineer defined emotion as a physiological, psychological, cognitive and social phenomenon. The affective response would be a measure of all of these dimensions of emotional experience.

In order to measure affective response to images and sounds presented to the subjects, Tonya used a multi-modal approach to measurement. She used Heart Rate Variability and Skin Conductance Level as psychophysiological measures of emotional experience. Tonya collected data using a picture-based, self-assessment tool, which will provide information about how the emotion is consciously felt or experienced by the subject. This provided a communicative, pictorial mode of expressed emotion. Additionally, the subjects filled out a daily questionnaire to measure the broader social context of their emotional states.


Measurement Tools: 

HRV & SCL: Iom, Grapher, Data Parser, Excel The Iom reads Heart Rate (middle finger sensor) and Galvanic Skin Conductance (2 side finger sensors). The Grapher displays a real-time graph of these readings, which can be saved and printed. The Parser calculates heart rate variability and skin conductance level and exports this data to an Excel file. The Excel file can be used to determine a HRV index and for statistical analysis.

Experienced-Felt Emotion: The Self Assessment Mannikin (SAM)A modified Self Assessment Manikin allowed the participants to self-assess and communicate their emotional response to each of the images and sounds. SAM uses three pictorial spectrum scales to represent three affective dimensions -- pleasure, arousal and dominance -- and a range of intensity of emotion from 1 to 9 for a visual or aural stimulus. The Usability Engineer modified the SAM to measure the pleasure dimension.

Social Context: modified Cohen's Perceived Stress Scale (PSC) .The questions were modified to reflect daily assessment rather than monthly.---------The questions in this scale ask you about your feelings and thoughts during the last day. In each Cohen's Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) Questionnaire case, you will be asked to indicate by circling how often you felt or thought a certain way.

Gender (Circle): M F Other _____________________________________0 = Never 1 = Almost Never 2 = Sometimes 3 = Fairly Often 4 = Very Often


1. In the last 24 hours, how often have you been upset because of something that happened unexpectedly?..................................... 0 1 2 3 4

2. In the last 24 hours, how often have you felt that you were unable to control the important things in your life?...................................................... 0 1 2 3 4U3. In the last 24 hours, how often have you felt nervous and "stressed"? ......... 0 1 2 3 4

4. In the last 24 hours, how often have you felt confident about your ability to handle your personal problems?................................................................. 0 1 2 3 4

5. In the last 24 hours, how often have you felt that things were going your way?...................................................................................... 0 1 2 3 4

6. In the last 24 hours, how often have you found that you could not cope with all the things that you had to do? ............................................................. 0 1 2 3 4

7. In the last 24 hours, how often have you been able to control irritations in your life?....................................................................... 0 1 2 3 4

8. In the last 24 hours, how often have you felt that you were on top of things?... 0 1 2 3 4

9. In the last 24 hours, how often have you been angered because of things that were outside of your control? ..................................... 0 1 2 3 4

10. In the last 24 hours, how often have you felt difficulties were piling up so high that you could not overcome them?............................ 0 1 2 3 4



Affective Response to Digital Stimuli:

In a previous study, "Psychophysiological Assessment of Images & Sounds as stress relief during Sustained Operations", NASA Ames Research Center (July 2009), Tonya tested affective response to a set of thematically diverse images and sounds using the SAM. In preparation for the study, a collection of digital images and sounds were assigned tags, such as "bright" and "noisy" in a separate research-tool-building project. This project involved using a semantic differential to determine which adjectives were associated with a particular image or sound. Then, the images and sounds were given tags indicating type and degree of adjective-associations.

The images and sounds were then tested for affective response on subjects who had no knowledge of the associated semantic tags. The results of this study suggested that certain tags are consistent indicators of positive valence and other tags indicate negative valence.

+Valence tags








-Valence tags





Further Tagging: For MDRS 97 study, additional images and sounds were tagged. Tonya conducted a 4-person tagging exercise using the International Affective Picture System (IAPS), International Affective Digital Sounds (IADS) and the images and sounds from the previous study. After tagging, all images and sounds were valence-categorized based on the assigned tags. These images and sound make up the Digital Experiences presented to the study subjects.

Digital Experiences (with Valenced Images and Sounds): In this study, Tonya compared the affective response of subjects to different types of interactive, digitally-created experiences. During Digital Experience experiment sessions, participants viewed images projected onto a wall and listened to sounds through Bose headphones. All of the images and sounds were typical of daily life on Earth (children laughing, traffic, rain, birds, an airport terminal, etc. (fig.1). All images and sounds in an experience are either positive or negative valenced. The participants were exposed to 3 types of Digital Experiences on test days, positive, negative, and mixed. Positive experiences contained only positive-valence images and sounds. Negative experience contained only negative-valenced images and sounds. Mixed experience contain both types of images and sounds.

The Usability Engineer defined an experience as a collection of thematically related digital images and sounds that are linked in a way that navigates the subject through a digital environment, such as a wooded area. These experiences were projected onto a large white surface in my state room. For a more immersive visual and aural experience, the surface was augmented with additional planes to simulate 3D space.

Testing Procedure:

The Usability Engineer called the collective of these three tests ART (Affective Response Test). This test is designed to find if there is a significant difference in the affective response to positive-valence and negative-valence experiences. Tonya also tested the mixed-valence experience as a control. Specifically, she will be looking for signs of fluctuations in affective response associated with exposure to the different experience valence-types. This information will help provide content specifications for designing and developing mood altering technologies for improved habitability in spacehab environments.

At the end of each day of the mission, Tonya administered the Cohen's Perceived Stress Scale (PSC) questionnaire. She conducted the Digital Experience test every other day (test-on days). Each Digital Experience was presented as a Flash movie of 5 minute duration. Tonya measured psychophysiological and experienced emotional response during this time. Before each experience, she did a 3 minute baseline reading for the psychophysiological measures on the subject. Tonya left the psychophysiological monitors on the subject for 3 minute post-experience. This gave data for 11 minutes per experience. Tonya tested 3 experiences per day. On every test-on day, she changed the exposure order of each valence-type experience. Also, there were 2 possible alternative experiences for each valence type. This means the subjects were exposed to a total of 2 positive-valence experiences, 2 negative-valence experiences, and 2 mixed-valence experiences over the course of the 14 day study. The Usability Engineer believes this will exclude preference for any particular set of specific images and sounds. The goal is to isolate the affective response to particular types of images and sounds.

To measure affective response, Tonya measured Heart Rate Variability and Skin Conductance Level using an Iom. She used SAM (Self-Assessment Manikin) to measure perceived emotional response to the experiences.

On the test-off days, Tonya collected 3, 3-minute baseline physiological readings at approximate the same scheduled time as the Digital Experience session on the test-on days. In this way, she can compare the psychophysiological data of subjects for test-on and test-off days in conjunction with the daily PSC assessments.


Predicted outcomes:

The Usability Engineer predicted that positive-valence experiences will elicit a more positive affective response than both negative-valence experiences and mixed-valenced experiences. Positive affective response would be indicated by a high HRV index, low SCL, positive valence SAM measures, and a low-stress PSC profile.



The Mars Desert Research Station in Hanskville, Utah. This is the most analogous test environment that Tonya could find for her experiment. Although the sky is blue, the monotonous, bleak and isolated environment is perfect for the study.



Crew 97 was excited to participate as Marsonauts at the Mars Desert Research Station and proved to be effective at conducting scientific fieldwork. The crew successfully performed research and analysis while in Martian simulation in regards to psychophysiological testing, low sand water filtration and testing, food studies, satellite data comparison, geologic water gully analysis, rock varnish collection for testing of life-forms, assessment of Hab usability, and robotic rover testing. The crew performed their duties through ExtraVehicular Activity (EVA) fieldwork, extensive laboratory analysis, and proper engineering and repair. Crew 97 was further able to combine a productive scientific expedition into an exciting and adventurous  journey that has forged an everlasting experience into each crew-member. On behalf of Crew  97, we would like to thank the Mars Society and all Mission Support personnel both virtual and local for allowing the crew the opportunity to participate as Marsonaut researchers at the Mars Desert Research Station!


Judah Epstein, Commander / Health & Safety Officer

Jim Crowell, Executive Officer / Human Factors Researcher

Amanda Damptz, Crew Geologist

Lucinda Land, Automated Exploration Scientist

Tonya Thompson, Usability Engineer

Nathan Wong, Crew Engineer



For further information about the Mars Society, visit our website at www.marssociety.org.