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European Space Agency Crew Completes Mars Desert Research Station Tour
Crew 100B Summary Report

March 14, 2011


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

The following is the summary report of MDRS Crew 100B, composed of scientists and engineers from the European Space Agency, which operated the MDRS from February 26, 2011 to March 12, 2011. Crew 101, drawn from Georgia Tech, has now taken over, and will operate the station until March 26, when they will hand it over to yet another crew. Daily reports on the activity at the MDRS are being posted at www.marssociety.org. 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.

 

ILEWG EuroMoonMars Crew 100 B

Final Report, March 12, 2011

To reach infinity and beyond is not in dreams anymore, we experienced it here in MDRS. To glimmer is to possess the power to think and act without any barriers (Jasdeep Kaur, Balwant Rai)

We were the 100th crew on the Red Planet since the beginning of the MDRS. As a multidisciplinary team with backgrounds in biomedical science, emergency oral & medical physicians, space dentistry, aeronautical & space engineers and astrophysics, we started our mission on February 26th 2011.

Sponsored and supported by the International Lunar Exploration Working Group (ILEWG), ESA/ESTEC and l’École de l’Air, NASA (Ames) we spent two weeks at MDRS Utah Desert using our diverse backgrounds during a total of 40 EVAs to attain truly incredible and innovative  research goals ranging from: physiology & psychology, oral & medical health, human factors, human–machine interactions and sleep disruption experiments to almost real time collaboration with research teams on Earth during integrated missions using a UAV, a rover, human EVAs for sample rescue, radio-telescope and extremophiles.

During these two weeks we also learned about acquaintance, working together, leaderships and managed to grow up as a team improving our habitability and performance during our tasks. Also, we learned the challenges of a human mission to Mars from our biomedical experiments and we simply loved to live on Mars!

 

Our crew was intensively international; so, we learnt together to overcome language barriers and cultural differences which provided us with intense intercultural experiences, surely akin to those which will be a part of future space exploration.

We now introduce the crew and describe the unique experiments we conducted during our stay at the Red Planet.

Crew:

 

 

Balwant Rai

Commander

Quentin Bourges

Executive Officer 

Matthieu Ansart

Chief Engineer

Jasdeep Kaur

Health and Safety Officer, Biologist

Crystal Latham

Chief Scientist

Rachel Dompnier

Rover Engineer

Group:

Although we all had our respective roles within this two week journey, we all enjoyed very much taking part in each other’s experiences and in the everyday tasks. Crew 100B functioned effectively as a team under Balwant’s supervision. We joined forces on everything from EVA field work to household chores, and other challenges. We did massage and exercises together to lower the body tensions taught by Jasdeep Kaur which was good for our flexibility, strength, and for developing confidence.  We always dined together as a group, which provided nice opportunity for negotiations and a modest leisure collectively accompanied by the flurry of work and reports.

Experiments:

BIO-MEDICAL and HUMAN FACTORS

1.     Human Factors as Physiological (Autonomic nervous system, Cardiovascular, Cognitive performance variables and autonomic cardiac modulation) and Psychological in  Participants of Mars Analogue Mission  (Balwant  Rai, Jasdeep Kaur)

This project is planned to study the effects of EVA on human physiology and psychology. All crew members were selected for this study. The heart-rate variability, breathing rate and VO2 max  (Zephyr BioHarness using OmniSense live, OmniSense and NERV Express 4.2 software) ; cognitive performance (Cog State) : psychological  (mood rating, working climate standardized subjective means) were measured before and after EVA. Heart rate, breathing rate and VO2 levels were significantly higher after EVA while decrease in activity of sympathetic nervous system and cognitive performance was observed. Dining mutually seems to be noteworthy for the crew and also common meals place up an additional socialization in this way to lower the collective tensions. Listening to music and discussions after meals was a tool to build up motivated team.

2.     JBR study of medical Rescue during EuroMoonMars  (Balwant Rai, Jasdeep Kaur)

Study was planned to conduct special EVAs for medical rescue for all crew members considering all possible factors, so they are prepared in advance to act in state of emergency. The complexity of examining an injured, burned, and an astronaut in coma in his space suit has previously been discussed. This study was successful in proposing the protocols for emergency treatment measures to rescue astronauts.

3.      Saliva as diagnostic tool in Mars mission  (Balwant Rai, Jasdeep kaur)

      Saliva samples were taken from all crew members (via Versi Sal 1 from Oasis Diagnostics) and preserved for further analysis (Stress markers, inflammatory markers and immunological markers). Salivary amylase and CRP levels were analysed by biosensor and their levels were significantly higher.

4.     Aeronautic dentistry: Dentist on Mars (Balwant Rai, Jasdeep Kaur)

Dental examination of all crew members was done. It was found that plaque levels and bleeding on probing from gums were increased, while TMJ opening was reduced for most of members due to stress and improper oral hygiene

5.     Odorant identification based on solid phase in EVA Participants of Mars Analogue Mission

      Six crew members were selected and seven herbal Indian spices were used for this experiment.  But based on analysis of the two crew members questionnaire, it was found that they could not identify these spices after EVA, it could be due to stress which can effect trigeminal.

CONTAMINATION STUDY

6.     Extremophiles and environmental contamination Study (Jasdeep Kaur, Balwant Rai)

In this study, crew 100B visited four locations and chose three new locations based on their likelihood to collect samples for extremophiles study. These samples were preserved for further analyses.

 

7.     Environmental Contamination (Jasdeep Kaur, Balwant Rai)

The environmental contamination study is a manifold term project which will investigate the impact MDRS has had on the surrounding environment over last decade.  The chemical properties will be determined by a pH analysis and the biological contamination by E Coli levels.

 

Astrophysics

8.     Using the Radio JOVE Telescope to Determine Radio Frequency Interference Sources a the Mars Desert Research Station (Crystal Latham)

      The overall objective of this research was to use the dipole Radio JOVE telescope to detect sources of radio frequency interference (RFI) that could affect radio astronomy research at the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS), as well as on Mars. The Radio Jove telescope is located about 15-25 feet east of the HAB (the habitat that crew members at MDRS live in). The receiver for the telescope is located on the second floor, in the crew member workspace, of the HAB. Within this area is the kitchen, dining area, and living quarters for all six crew members. The recording of radio emissions was done using the software, Radio-SkyPipe II.


      There were many sources of RFI both within and outside the HAB. Measured internal RFI sources included: the microwave, the refrigerator, movement, cell phones, the water pump, and wireless enabled laptops. Internal sources that are also believed to create RFI, but were unable to be tested, included: the recording laptop, and the power source of the receiver itself. Measured external RFI sources included: local radio stations, two-way radios being used on EVAs, and the motors of ATVs.


      Many of the recorded emissions were unable to be classified, but are likely sources of RFI. Potential explanations include: overhead aircraft, people on radios and on cell phones in the area, and other motorized vehicles. This study puts into sharp focus that a radio receiver on Mars will need its own radio-quiet area to make good scientific radio measurements of astronomical sources. A radio receiver and telescope on Mars will need to be heavily shielded from RFI producing equipment inside human habitats, if good radio observations are to be made on Mars.

 

Logistic experiment

9.     Identification of critical knowledge need on a Space mission (Matthieu Ansart):

The aim of this study was to find critical knowledge required on a space mission. During our mission, different aspects of what we need were determined.

One of the aspects of this was the management of vital resources like water, food or electricity. To organize a real space mission, we need to know the typical consumption for a six member’s crew. Having prior experience from several MDRS missions permitted us to plan more efficiently for our own mission. Indeed we could not bring as much resources as we daily require for space missions. We had to be efficient before the mission started in resources choice and during the mission in management of these resources.

Another aspect of critical knowledge was concerning the piloting of the UAV, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. To explore an area with a UAV required learning about the software used for piloting the drone and a basic knowledge about flying. For the user during our mission, it was not a problem because of his flight instruction as a French cadet but for a novice, some lessons could be necessary. To have the best tools for the interface human-UAV allowed a greater efficiency and a better use of the UAV capability. Then knowledge of UAV’s limits is essential. Indeed, according to the weather conditions, the relief and the range of the vehicle, we can’t use the UAV in the same way.

So the identification of critical knowledge is the most important stage for preparing a mission. To model this knowledge and make it easy to understand is a first step for missions.

Ergonomics:

10.  Rover/UAV cooperation/coordination (Quentin Bourges)

The first experiment involved just a Rover and its operator. An obstacle course was made for the Rover to cross. It appeared that it was very difficult, and it was actually all about luck for the operator to find the good path through the exit. The in stake for a recognition mission (on Mars for instance) would be not to take the risk to lose the Rover, and push the mission to failure. Hence, we had to add another device that would allow the Rover operator to find the good path and minimizing risk-taking by the way. That is why; we decided to get a second UAV operator involved in the mission that could pave the way for the Rover.

In the second experiment, two operators standing close to one another had to cooperate with coordination to get the Rover out of the obstacle course. It was a total success. The UAV had a frontal and a belly video camera that could allow detecting obstacles, big slopes, and determining to good path through the exit. But this wasn’t relevant enough as operators don’t always have the possibility to gather in the same place.

In the third experiment, the two operators were separated and had to communicate with walkie-talkies. This was much more difficult because the coordination had to be well regulated, but still the mission was successful. He had to deal with video delay problems on cameras as well as communicating on the radio (establishing COM protocols to be concise and efficient as the UAV had limited autonomy). Cognitive resources are consumed very fast if you are not trained, here is all the interest of Rover and UAV pilots’ training.

Human Factors

Human Factors in Teleoperated Systems (Rachel Dompnier)

The human desire to go further in the development of advanced technologies, which makes it possible for humans to overcome their own limits, resulted in the creation of teleoperated systems. That is the case for Mars exploration, where piloting a Rover from the inside enables us to verify if there is any danger, which allows humans to know if an area is approachable before they go in to take samples.

During this mission at the MDRS, the goal was to learn about the operator’s needs to have a good situational awareness of the system. In order to improve this awareness, work was done on the system’s interface and to improve the vision of the operator on the Rover, an UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) was used. Several experiments were done, showing the best way for both systems to cooperate.

It was first pointed out that the Rover working alone had many issues. These difficulties revealed the advantages of using an UAV on this type of mission. The purpose of the following experiments was to find the best way for the UAV and Rover to cooperate in accomplishing the mission. These experiments answered questions, like how many operators are needed to control both the UAV and Rover, as well as what type of communication is needed between them.

Several problems occurred during these experiments, especially mechanical ones, like the Rover having low engine power, which prevented it from easily moving on Mars’ broken ground. This presents a paradox for use of this type of system to explore Mars. Although these kinds of problems occurred, satisfying results were still able to be found. Overall, the best cooperation between the Rover and UAV was found to be when they are enslaved together.

Moon-Mars Habitability and CASPER Project

We continued to perform the previous group study.

Final Remarks

MDRS was for us astounding experiences which facilitated us to work on projects completely diverse from our competencies in a confined analog environment. It was a factual challenge and enlightening experience. Now we can envision how an actual mission to the Red Planet would be.

We would like to express gratitude towards the Mars Society, ILEWG, ESA/ESTEC, l’Ecole de l’Air, Prof. Bernard Foing, Dr. Guy Pignolet from the SALM institute, Mr. Akos Kerezturi, Dr. Tamarack Czarnik, Dr Carol Stoker (NASA Ames), Mission Support, Mr. Don Lusko and all other related people for their daily assistance and our remote supporters from America, Europe, Canada and India. We enjoyed working with you during our mission.

To the infinity and beyond!

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

 

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