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Summary Report

MDRS Crew 113 (11 - 25 February 2012)

  • Alexandre Mangeot, 26, France, PhD student, Commander
  • Nicolas Pourquier, 22, France, Pilot Cadet, Executive Officer
  • Valentina Karga, 26, Greece, Architect, Health and Security Officer
  • Alexandre Richard, 20, France, Pilot Cadet, Engineer
  • Baptiste Moeglin, 23, France, Pilot Cadet, Rover specialist
  • Pieterjan Grandy, 26, Belgium, Artist, Support


The crew 113 is the first team from the ILEWG Euro Moon-Mars 2012 missions directed by Prof. Bernard Foing (ILEWG and VU Amsterdam). The objectives of the mission were multiple and thanks to good cohesive teamwork, the crew managed to work all together in a very good atmosphere. Each crewmember came at MDRS with his or her own study goals. Some parts of these studies have been conducted in collaboration with other crewmembers for specific needs. Moreover, all the crewmembers have taken part in the food study led by Jean Hunter.

Exploration EVAs to sample locations in order to prepare soil-sampling EVAs have been performed by Alexandre Mangeot. A vast terrain exploration trying to find caves has also been conducted, but without success.

 The rover has been successfully handled by Baptiste Moeglin as the rover specialist. Three tutorials have been made on how the rover is working and how to control it. They will be given to the next crew, who will determine which one is the best to learn from.

 On what extent space habitat systems overlap with self-sufficient Earth systems was the main focus point of the study carried out by Valentina Karga and Pieterjan Grandy.

Organizational routines as a factor of stability and changes during the mission were studied by Nicolas Pourquier and Alexandre Richard.


Food study

The rules for "non-cooking" days of the food study have been followed until the end of the mission. All chief reports asked after the main meal of the day have also been sent. The daily questionnaire have not been filled up by some crewmembers everyday because it has been felt as too time consuming and during some days the Internet connection did not work well enough to send the questionnaires.

The food supplied did not meet the European standard of quality and taste. Some meals have been very hard to eat and digest, leading to short low energy levels during or after the meals. However, thanks to a strong cohesive team, Crew 113 managed to continue the experiment. It has also been reported that the feeling of satiety during the meal did not last long, leading to a hungry feeling by most of the crew members during most of the daytime.

Under the coordination of Dr. Jean Hunter, research on growing sprouts have been done.  Two batches of sprouts have been cultivated, one each week. The crew evaluated them according to smell, appearance and taste. Both were considered edible, but the results of the second batch were more satisfactory.

Geological work (by Alexandre Mangeot)

The next crew (#114) will include a crew geologist (Woute Pouters) be supported by a geologist and biologist remote team (including Irina Rammos, Tennia Zhao and Luisa Rodrigues) from VU University Amsterdam. Alexandre Mangeot proposed his time to advance them in their study and to investigate chosen sites. The first days of mission was spent to recognize these locations inless than a kilometer range from the Hab. After exploration EVAs, reports have been made on the chosen locations in order to confirmed locations. Due to other planned tasks and weather conditions, the sampling EVAs have been performed on last mission days. The sampler was inexperienced and due to the spacesuit it was even harder to follow the protocol. Other samples should be taken by the next crew geologist. A comparison of the samples analysis from the two samplers should quantify the deviation of an inexperienced from an experienced sampler.

 The other goal of the geological work was to find caves in the area. Google Earth has been used to prepare the recon missions. Four EVAs have been performed in order to find caves. The East of the Hab has been explored from Lith Canyon to the North Pinto Hills passing by Tank Wash Canyon, and the beginning of Candor Chasma. No caves have been found during these EVAs, only some holes made by water flow draining the sand and soil underneath a plate of solid rocks. Caves will be important an place to investigate in Mars because they are direct access to the underground and because they will be a well chosen place to setup a permanent pressurized basement. If caves would have been found it would have been a good opportunity to test protocols to explore such places.

Rover experiment (by Baptiste Moeglin)

Thanks to the partnership between the French Air Force Academy and ILEWG and the support from NASA Ames, previous work has already been conducted last year on the rovers ergonomic and use. Still, no cooperation between two different crews has been tried. 

The first part of the study has been to edit a rover lap around the Hab and get started with the rover. Then three tutorials about how to use the rover for completing the defined lap have been made. The first one has been made as a traditional getting started written manual, the second one is a set of vocal instructions recorded in an audio file, and the third one is a motion picture shot at the first person. Alexandre Mangeot has served as the lap time calibrator. He performed two laps without the tutorials. The lap time made will be compared to those that will be done by members of the next crew who will learn to get started with the rover with the three tutorials. The study should highlight the best media to transmit a piece of knowledge. The conclusion of this study will be done by the next crew members, Yannick Wable and Pierrick Darneaux. It is expected to demonstrate which kind of media should be used in manned missions to Mars, to communicate between crews and to avoid problems and wasted time.

Habitat study (by Pieterjan Grandy and Valentina Karga)

The goal of participation in an MDRS mission was to experience an isolate and limited in resources environment as part of a bigger study (carry out at the University of Arts Berlin) about self-sufficiency and sustainability.

The research focuses on the habitat and its systems. Prior to the mission, simple systems to make an Earth habitat more sustainable, using renewable energy and low-tech technology have been developed. The starting point of the research was documenting this system and comparing it with a system for Earth. It appears to be possible to improve both, taking technologies and innovations from both sides. The use of the space has been documented and techniques from the Earth-system (e.g. solar cooking) have been experienced. An experiment with a low-tech solar cooker which have been built in the Hab. It has been tested with success as a proposal that the MDRS could function as a hybrid system between Earth and Mars.

Due to the malfunctioning greenhouse, research was limited to documenting the different aspects of the Hab as a habitat. Nevertheless, a proposal for a new greenhouse at MDRS is under study thanks to the books available in the Hab, and may be proposed after the end of the mission.

A brainstorm and a workshop about improving the Hab has been coordinated and performed by the whole crew. A list of low-cost interventions to make the MDRS more self-sufficient, more sustainable and more comfortable has been compiled. In collaboration with Extreme Design, a research on habitability has been carried out. The research involved individual questionnaires and a collaborative debriefing, where the crew addressed problems and proposed solutions.

Organizational routines (by Nicolas Pourquier and Alexandre Richard) 

The weight of organizational routines in the MDRS and the impact of containment and isolation have been studied. The research has focused on the crucial importance of routines as a factor of stability but also flexibility and change, in the perspective of a manned mission to Mars. 

Observation of the living conditions in the station was the base of the study, in order to analyze the impact of the space management on the crew coordination. Then, the role of the routines in the Daily Engineering Checking have been highlighted with the appropriation of the Quick Guide by the Crew Engineer and the study of his deviation from this guideline in order to be more efficient. At the end of the first week, the importance of the coordination has been exposed to the whole crew thanks to a coordination exercise based on a simulated generator failure. The importance of non-verbal communication in EVAs and the recurrent emergence of this kind of language have been underlined, as other crews did before. The differences between a simulated and a real mission on Mars on the emergence of organizational routines have ended the study. Further conclusions are expected from Thomas Quemin belonging to this research group and member of the crew 114.