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Crew 101 Log Book for March 25, 2011

Photos of the day

Commander's Check-In Report

Tom Caillouet Reporting

Crew Health: Quite good

EVAs and Times: None

Number of Reports: 9 (Commander, Engineering, Journalist, Chef, 5 Science)

Field Results: N/A

Plans for Tomorrow: Briefing the incoming crew, then leaving Mars.... and Raj...

Commander's Report

Tom Caillouet Reporting

It's our last full day on 'Mars.' We've been scrambling to get last minute science completed, but also taking time to enjoy our remaining time in  this awesome area of the planet (err... awesome area of another 'planet?'). We enjoyed breaking sim right with a ride into town for breakfast at Blondie's. Nothing could quite prepare us for the rush of having fresh food for the first time in two weeks. After returning to the Hab, part of the crew continued work on analyzing biology and contamination experiment samples, while the rest went on a hike along radio ridge and retrieved the radio repeater. Apparently, it sustained additional wind damage during the night, but this time there would be no repair EVA. We grabbed a block of cheese and other ingredients in town to make some proper (only semi-shelf stable) pizza tonight. There will be some tasty perks transitioning back into our daily lives, but hopefully lessons from our time at the Hab won't be washed away like the taste of instant meals.

Engineering Report

Cody Hall Reporting


• Kitty (Diesel Generator) (Used? Yes/No): Yes

• Honey (Gas Generator) (Used? Yes/No): No

• Battery Charge Level:

o V everstart

o V armor plate

o V green

Notes/Comments (include how many generator runs, approximately when,and any times you needed to turn the generator on/off):

1 generator run

Fuel Status:

• Diesel (Full/0.75/0.5/0.25/Empty): 0.75

• Propane Tank (Full/0.75/0.5/0.25/Empty): 0.25

• Gasoline Tank (Full/0.75/0.5/0.25/Empty): 0.5



• Kitty Oil Quantity (# of Quarts in storage): Changed/replaced by DG

• Honey Oil Quantity (# of Quarts in storage): Leave it to DG

• ATV Oil Quantity (# of Quarts in storage): 6 quarts on the

engineering work bench

• Car Oil Quantity (# of Quarts in storage): Leave it to DG


Water Status:

• Outside Potable Water Tank Level (inches from bottom): 10

• Trailer Potable Water Tank Level (inches from bottom): full

• Hab Potable Water Tank Level (inches from bottom): 8

• Potable Water Meter Reading: 438802

Notes/Comments :


• Condition of plants in Tank 1: unchanged

• Condition of plants in Tank 2: unchanged

• Condition of plants in Tank 3: unchanged

• Greenhab notes/ comments: can see sand, but it is still covered in a bit of water


• Telescope Used? (Yes/no) No

Observatory Notes:



• Used (yes/no): yes

• Oil Checked (yes/no): No

• Tire Status: Not checked, good

• Odometer at end of day: 123732.0

• Notes/Comments on Hab Car:

ATV 1 (Opportunity):

• Used: yes

• Oil Checked: no

• Fuel Consumed: replaced

• Tire Status: ok

• Comments:

ATV 2 (Spirit):

• Used: no

• Oil Checked: no

• Fuel Consumed: none

• Tire Status: ok

• Comments:

ATV 3 (Viking I):

• Used: no

• Oil Checked: no

• Fuel Consumed: none

• Tire Status: ok

• Comments:

ATV 4 (Viking II):

• Used: no

• Oil Checked: no

• Fuel Consumed: none

• Tire Status: ok

• Comments:

ATV Comments:

Heating and Ventilation:

• Thermostat setting upstairs (Farenheit): 68

• Actual temperature upstairs (Farenheit): 71

• Thermostat setting downstairs (Farenheit): 67

• Actual temperature downstairs (Farenheit): 65


Computers/Networking Infrastructure: working

Notes/comments on internet/computers:

General Engineering:

Science Report (Biology)

Christine Redmond Reporting


Science objective for today is to weigh contaminants brought in after each EVA, classifying the contaminants by conducting Nitrate, Ammonia and Carbonate tests on the sample from each site.

Materials and Equipment:

24 sterilized 15 mL tubes

Nitrate aquarium test kit

Ammonia aquarium test kit

Carbonate aquarium test kit

Bagged samples of contaminants collected after each EVA

Dust pan

95% ethanol for sterilization


Weighing paper


Small brush


Preparation and Procedure:

Each bagged contaminant sample was emptied onto weighing paper and weighed individually on balance. Each sample was placed in individual test tubes and 10 mL of diH2O was added to each sample test tube. Test tube was capped and shook several times.

Nitrate test: 1 mL of test solution was taken from each sample test tube and placed in separate test tubes. Pipette was sterilized with ethanol between each extraction. One drop of Nitrate indicator was placed in each test tube. Test tubes were capped and shook. After five minutes color of each sample was observed to determine concentration of Nitrate.

Ammonia test: 1.25 mL of test solution was taken from each sample test tube and placed in spate test tubes for each sample. Pipette was sterilized with ethanol between each extraction. Two drops of Ammonia indicator was added to each test tub. Test tubes were capped and shook. Color of solution was observed immediately to determine concentration of Ammonia.

Carbonate test: 5 mL of test solution was taken from each sample test tube and placed in separate test tubes for each sample. Pipette was sterilized with ethanol between each extraction. One drop of Carbonate indicator was placed in each test tube. tubes were capped and shook. Solution turned blue or yellow. If the solution turned yellow an insignificant amount of carbonate was present. If the solution turned blue one drop of indicator was added, test tube was capped and test tube was shook. This process was repeated until the solution turned from blue to yellowish noting how many drops of indicator were added.

Results: Carbonate was the only test that showed any results from any of the given samples. Carbonate was found in two samples both collected from EVAs on radio ridge. After six EVAs a total of 4.23 grams of dust contaminant was collected.

Science Report (Geology)

Tom Caillouet Reporting

Crew 101 ran a geology experiment attempting to aid EVA planning by

gathering quantitative and qualitative data of several sites around

MDRS to guage movement difficulty for crew members and rovers along

several soil types and compare the data against satellite imagery of

the area.

At each target site, crew members marked off a 1.8m x 1.8m area for

sampling. UTM coordinates, a small soil sample, soil depth, and the

number of 'siginificant' rocks at each site was collected. Rocks were

considered 'significant' when they were large enough to force

consideration for movement. For consistancy, it was decided that rocks

with a 15 cm characteristic length would qualify for this label. Once

samples were returned to the hab, top soil was characterized by

measuring the percent mass of each sample that was fine dust (under

.3mm diameter), medium dust (0.3mm to 1mm diameter), and large dust

(over 1mm diameter). The purpose of this is to give an idea at the

type of dust contamination likely to be picked up in an area. Data for

the ten samples follow:

UTM Coordinates for sector 12N.

Easterly        Northerly       Sig. Rocks      Soil Depth (in) Total Mass (g)  small

dust (%)        medium dust (%) large dust (%)

0518290         4250809         3                       2                               102.21                  6.47                    28.96                   64.57

0518342         4250833         13                      0.5                             202.51                  5.99                    13.46                   80.55

0518345         4250950         0                       4                               452.96                  27.37                   26.92                   45.71

0519191         4250809         9                       0.5                             315.72                  23.75                   42.01                   34.25

0518280         4255774         3                       4                               201.01                  2.06                    7.11                    90.83

0518175         4253614         3                       0.5                             137.77                  16.19                   21.72                   62.09

0517686         4254622         0                       6                               48.74                   7.73                    52.83                   39.43

0510979         4251416         0                       1                               136.8                   19.61                   14.26                   66.13

There appears to be no major patterns in the results or when compared

to satellite imagery. More sites must be analyzed before conclusive

results can be reached, but it appears that each EVA crew must be

fully prepared for a wide range of environmental contaminates and movement impediments.

Science Report

Mitesh Agrawal Reporting

Title: A Study of the Activity Levels of MDRS Operations

Oftentimes we forget how specific our evolutionary path is and how adaptive it is to the terrestrial environment. Man must recreate appropriate atmospheric pressures and oxygen levels in order to survive outside of our natural habitat. Currently, design of the environmental control system utilizes standards of oxygen based on metabolic activity and body type/size. The crew is interested in quantifying life support parameters for the duration of the mission using measured heart rate. This data can be used to describe the intensity of various activities at the MDRS and serve as the basis for future environmental control experiments. 

ï A Heart Rate Monitor which attaches to the wrist

1. Testing subjects are the MDRS 101 crew (3 members).
2. Have subjects fill out a consent form.
3. Have subjects complete a questionnaire to determine participant eligibility and record age and gender.
4. Have subjects have their weight and height measured.
5. Have subjects wear a heart rate monitor for periods while they carry out their normal activities and operations at the Mars Desert Research Station and while they go out on EVAís.

Data Collection and Interpretation: 
After gathering all the data from the procedure including the changes in heart rate, we determined how the rate of oxygen consumption was affected while carrying out different activities, especially the EVAís. The oxygen consumption was roughly estimated by using the data of heart rate and the weight of the subject.  All of this data was implemented in determining the estimated average amount of life support parameters needed for the duration and simulated conditions at the Mars Desert Research Station. This data can serve as a basic estimation of the life support parameters that should be available for future similar environmental control projects. The oxygen consumption was calculated by (Average Heart Rate)*constant/(Maximum Heart Rate) in liters per minute. The constant ranges from 2.5-3,5 ranging for people with different height/weight ratio.

Because of this protocol being under the supervision of IRBwise (Institutional Review Board) of Georgia institute of Technology, all the data is kept anonymous except for the Investigator. So, all the results posted here are under anonymous subject names. The data from 3 subjects was collected for this study. The number of data is low because of the late approval of the project from IRBwise and limited number of EVAs on the MDRS mission.

Subject                 Oxygen Consumption Calculated (lit/min)
101A                    1.00(Normal Activity);1.75(EVA mission)
101B                    1.08(Normal Activity);1.85(EVA mission)
101C                    2.14(Normal Activity);1.98(EVA mission)
So, as expected, in case of subjects 101A and 101B, the oxygen consumption was more during EVA activity than normal activity. The abnormality in data in case of subject 101C might be explained by calm nature while on EVA or increased anxiety or fear while normal activity which might occur due to watching movie.
Conclusion/ Discussion:
So, by extrapolation and considering the normal oxygen consumption while sleeping is 300ml/min and that an average person sleeps for 8hours and lives in the Hab for the 16hours doing normal activities, the oxygen consumption for the day was found in the range of 1100-2100 lit/min which matches with the normal average oxygen consumption on Earth. The average oxygen consumption per person per day was found out to be 1500 lit/min. So, in conclusion, the Hab must be equipped with life support parameters related to oxygen so as to support an average person for the entire duration of the mission multiplied by the members of the crew. Also, while going out on EVAs, it is essential to quantify the time and the intensity of the EVA activity to find the oxygen needed for the operation. So, from this study, we tried to quantify and characterize the oxygen consumption by the crew thus helping in determining the extent to which the life support parameters should be equipped.        

Science Report

Mitesh Agrawal Reporting

Science objectives for the day was to use liquid samples made on 13/22/11 for gram staining and to determine whether the bacterial growth detected was acid fast or nonacid fast bacteria

Materials and Equipment:
1. 4 Liquid samples of bacteria
2. Acid Fast Stain kit (includes Carbol Fuchsin Stain, Acid Alcohol Decolorizer and Methylene Blue Counterstain)
3. Slides
4. Heat plate (to fix the bacteria)
5. Sterilized H2O

Preparation and Procedure: 

1. Four liquid samples were spread on a glass slide in a thin smear. They were dried and heat fixed.
2. The slides with fixed bacterial samples were flooded with carbol fuchsin stain for 2 minutes and then rinsed with water.
3. A gentle stream of acid alcohol decolorizer was directed at the slide till the decolorizing stopped.
4. The slide was rinsed with water again.
5. Methylene blue was used as a counterstain and the slide was flooded with it for 2 minutes.
6. The slide was rinsed and allowed to dry for 20 minutes.
Sample 1: No stained bacterial bodies were observed. This might have been due to the low concentration of bacteria in liquid sample 1.
Sample 2: Blue stained bacteria were observed on the slide indicating the presence of non acid fast bacteria.
Sample 3: Same results as Sample 2.
Sample 4: This was our negative control for the experiment in which a non bacterial LB solution was stained to check for its sterility.

So, from the results, it can be derived that the bacterial presence in the soil samples collected are non-acid fast. This means that there are no bacteria of the mycobacterium family in the soil sample collected as the general acid fast bacteria are from the mycobacteria family. The indication of nonacid fast bacteria points to the general strains of E. Coli or Staphyloccocus bacteria but further DNA analysis is essential to actually determine the type of bacteria present in the soil samples which we hope to achieve by PCR analysis

Science Report

Christina Graves and Raj Patel Reporting


Science objectives for the day were to perform chromatography experiments on soil samples, bacterial cultures, and isolated DNA, as well as to perform colony PCR and PCR using extracted DNA from soil samples as template.

A method for performing on-site PCR at the MDRS Hab in Hanksville, Utah, without a thermocycler is included. Verification of PCR products will be performed when back at our home university with appropriate equipment.



PCR END TIME (35 cycles total): 3:30PM


Background (PCR): Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is a common wet lab technique used to amplify a segment of DNA. Until this year, PCR has never been performed as part of an MDRS Georgia Tech rotation; and so, a feasible, on site PCR (while in sim) was developed.

A 16S rDNA PCR assay was chosen due to the conserved, universal sequences, and for ease in verifying these trial PCR methods.

Materials and Equipment (PCR):

water bath set to 70C

incubator set to 50C [Note: annealing temp. for GoTaq enzyme should be a few degrees lower than the lowest primer Tm)

hot plate with beaker, for boiling water (95C)

paraffin or mineral oil

ice bath

timer / stop watch

1.5mL centrifuge tubes

10mM dNTPs

10X Taq Buffer

GoTaq Polymerase

forward universal bacterial primer (from 16S rDNA) 5'-AGA GTT TGA TCC TGG CTC AG-3'

reverse universal bacterial primer (from 16S rDNA)5'-GGT TAC CTT GTT ACG ACT T-3'

template DNA

p200 and p20 pipettes with appropriate tips

thermocouple (water baths)

glass thermometer (incubator)

deionized water (dIH2O)

aluminum foil

lots of great music to keep you entertained: "We all live in a yellow submarine!"

Preparation and Procedure (PCR):

The water bath was set to 70C, the incubator to 55C, and a beaker with boiling water over a hot plate was also prepared 1 hour prior to beginning PCR. The water bath, and hot bath were rearranged to be in close proximity to the incubator, in order to minimize the amount of time the samples were exposed to room temperature. An ice bath was prepared using a styrofoam bucket and ice. [Note: it is important to set the incubator about 5-10C higher than the temperature at which you want to perform the annealing step; opening and closing the incubator door repeatedly throughout the process causes a significant amount of incubator heat loss. Additionally, be mindful to keep the incubator door closed during each cycle, opening it only to put in/take out a sample.] A piece of aluminum foil large enough to cover the top of the beaker with boiling water and capable of holding 10 samples (as shown in attached picture) was cut. Small holes were poked in the aluminum foil, equidistant from one another.

A PCR "master mix" was prepared on ice using 10mM dNTP's (17uL), universal (16S rDNA)bacterial primers (forward and reverse, 17uL each), 10X Taq Buffer (136uL), dIH2O (646uL), and Taq Polymerase (17uL). If not preparing a master mix, each reaction should be as follows:

38uL dIh2O

8uL 10X PCR buffer

1uL 10mM dNTPs

1uL 10uM Forward primer

1uL 10uM Reverse primer

1uL Taq polymerase

10 prechilled, 1.5mL eppendorf tubes were labeled, and 50uL of the master mix was added to each tube. To 5 (labeled 1-5) of the tubes, 1uL of template DNA (from soil samples 6, 7, 8, 2, 3 on 3/22-3/23) was added to the master mix (locations are noted below). To the remaining 5 tubes (labelled 6-10), the 50uL of master mix was inoculated with colonies picked from plates 6, 5, 3, 2, 8. To the top, 20uL of paraffin oil was added. Eppendorf tubes were capped and arranged in the aluminum foil. [Note: Do not attempt to perform the PCR reactions in the PCR tubes currently at the Hab, using this methodology - they will explode; for this method, large eppendorf tubes and oil "caps" were found to be necessary].

The tubes were incubated for 5min. at 95C [initial denaturation], followed by (1) 1min. at 95C [denaturation]; (2) 1min.30sec. at 50C [annealing]; and (3) 1min at 72C [extention]. Steps 1-3 were repeated for a total of 35 cycles, followed by 5min at 72C [final extention]. The samples were then stored at 0C.

Background (chromatography):

While macrobiotic life is unlikely to exist on Mars, it is certainly a suitable arena for prebiotic chemical analysis; which may not only provide insights to evolutionary mechanisms on Mars, but also those that may have taken place on the early Earth. Of particular interest are the bases familiar to us: adenine, cytosine, and thymine [Note: we do not use guanine in these experiments because it is highly insoluble in water]. Finding areas or samples wherein these bases accumulate would be of great interest for evolutionary studies.

Materials and equipment (chromatography):

TLC plates (fluorescent)

large (500mL) beaker


filter paper (coffee filter will suffice)

UV lamp (short wave; 254nm)

straight ruler


saturated base solutions (adenine, thymine, cytosine)

Preparation and Procedure:

A 500mL beaker was set up, with 1.27cm of dIH2O. A coffee filter (wetted with water) was formed around the inside of the beaker (covering about half the circumference). A TLC plate was prepared by drawing a line lightly in pencil 3cm from the bottom of the plate. 9 hash marks were drawn on the line, equidistant from one another and at least 2cm from each side. Using capillary tubes, standards and samples were applied to the TLC at the indicated hash marks. The hash marks of indicated samples were as follows: 1) A (adenine)

2) T (thymine)

3) C (cytosine)

4) DNA from colony 8.2

5) DNA from colony 6

6) DNA from colony 2

7) DNA from colony 5

8) DNA from colony 4

9) DNA from colony 3.1

For the three bases (ATC), 1uL of each sample was applied. For the DNA samples, 1uL was applied and allowed to dry, 3 times sequentially to increase concentration and allow for visibility on the plate.

The TLC plate was placed in the chamber, making sure that the water began below the initial line. Aluminum foil was placed atop the beaker. After about 30min, when the water line was 3cm from the top of the plate, the plate was taken out of the chamber, the line solvent front was marked, and the plate was laid on a flat surface to dry. After drying, a short wave (254nm) UV lamp was used to visualize spots on the plate; and Rf's (retention factors) corresponding to the dark spots on the plate were calculated for all lanes.


1) A (adenine) - 3.0/6.8cm = .44

2) T (thymine) - 4.9/6.8cm = .72

3) C (cytosine) - 4.2/6.8cm = .62

4) DNA from colony 8.2 - 3/6.8 = 0.44; 5.0/6.8 = .74; 6/6.8cm = .88

5) DNA from colony 6 - 3/6.8 = 0.44; 5.0/6.8 = .74; 6/6.8cm = .88

6) DNA from colony 2 - 3/6.8 = 0.44; 5.0/6.8 = .74; 6/6.8cm = .88

7) DNA from colony 5 - 3/6.8 = 0.44; 5.0/6.8 = .74; 6/6.8cm = .88

8) DNA from colony 4 - 3/6.8 = 0.44; 4.1/6.8 = .60; 5.0/6.8 = .74;

9) DNA from colony 3.1 - 3/6.8 = 0.44; 5.0/6.8 = .74;

DNA from all lanes exhibited a RF equal to that found for the base standards thymine and adenine. DNA from lanes 4-7 showed additional dark spots at Rf of .88 which did not correspond to any standard used. DNA from lanes 8 showed an additional spot at Rf .60, which may correspond to the cytosine standard used.


From these experiments, a standard protocol was developed for on-site PCR at the MDRS Hab in Utah, for potential use by future crews. Chromatography results also show that this may be a viable method for "screening" samples for bases common to life as we know it on Earth.

Chef's Report

Cody Hall Reporting

1a) Today was an out-of-sim day.

1b) Was today a special day celebrated at the main meal with special

food or activity?


2) List the foods served at today's main meal (usually the evening

meal), giving full names of each.


3) List any main meal foods not finished by the crew (leftovers stored

for later use or discarded)

Threw away a lot of tomato sauce.

4) Recipes for anything more complicated than following package

directions exactly, or rehydrating.

Pizza Sauce

Tomato sauce

3 cups dried tomato paste

4 cups water

1/8 cup tomato dices

1/8 cup celery

¼ cup onion

¼ cup mixed pepper

½ teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon basil

½ teaspoon pepper

Pizza Dough (makes one pizza)

Teaspoon sugar

1 packet active dry yeast

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup warm water

2/3 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 ¾ cups flour

Mix sugar yeast water and proof. Mix in remaining ingredients, add

flour until doughy. Bake for ten minutes then add sauce and toppings.

Bake until crust is golden.


-spread out pizza dough in pan covered with crisco (to prevent sticking)

-add sauce (recommend very thin layer for this sauce)

-add mozzarella cheese (since we're out of sim we bought this in town)

and other toppings

-bake at 500 degrees until golden

5) Lessons learned (if any)

You don’t need nearly as much pizza sauce as we made. This pizza sauce

is very sweet and will overpower the pizza if you add more than a thin


6) Comments/questions for Kim and Jean, the food study investigators

Journalist Report

Christine Redmond Reporting

This morning crew 101 had a celebration breakfast at Blondie’s. After a hearty breakfast crew 101 was ready to tackle a challenging hike to the top of birthday cake in celebration of Raj’s birthday! At times I felt like I was in an Indiana Jones movie climbing between the desert rocks. Crew 101 also climbed to the top of radio ridge to take down our radio equipment. Christina had a busy afternoon packing up the science equipment to be shipped back to earth and preparing the lab for the next crew. Tommy had a busy afternoon working on our final report. Cody, Tommy and Christina had a busy afternoon preparing our last dinner on Mars, homemade pizza! The entire crew is looking forward to celebrating this last night on the red planet! We are all anxious to meet and greet crew 102 tomorrow afternoon! We look forward to sharing with them our experience as well as the many lessons we have learned during simulation.

All good things, as the saying goes, must come to an end. I am convinced that time on Mars passes 10 times as fast as on Earth! It is hard to believe that today is our last full day on Mars and that crew 101 will be returning to earth tomorrow afternoon. Crew 101 has had one memorable experience on the red planet! From this experience we take away strengthened friendships, great stories, unexpected lessons learned, scientific and engineering knowledge, quotes only understood by crew 101, strengthened teamwork and communication skills, cooking skills (a new found skill for many of our male crew members), resourcefulness, courage, inspiration, a greater understanding of the technology and skills required to survive on Mars, breathtaking views and most importantly a sense of Mars being within reach and a burning desire to be a part of this historic goal! Crew 101 is sad to leave Mars but we are overjoyed to return to share our experience with planet earth!