Mars Society Announcement: Final Mission Summary – MDRS Crew 269 – The following is the final summary report of Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) Crew 269 (The Aerospace Corporation). A full review of the 2022-23 MDRS field season and crew activities will be presented at the 26th Annual International Mars Society Convention next year. Aerospace Corporation Demo-1 Crew 269:
Commander (CDR): Dr. Kristine Ferrone
Executive Officer (XO): Allison Taylor
Health & Safety Officer (HSO): Barbara Braun
Crew Engineer (ENG): Ashley Kowalski
Green Hab Officer (GHO): Matthew Eby
Technology Officer (TECH): Trevor Jahn
Crew 269 was the first self-organized MDRS crew from The Aerospace Corporation. The mission was internally named “Demo-1” to indicate the first demonstration on an all-Aerospace analog mission. The mission concept was first proposed by CDR and XO as a sprint exercise to determine the feasibility of assembling a complete MDRS crew and experiment team from within Aerospace in 2020. The results of that exercise formed the basis of the crew application and mission plan submitted for MDRS consideration. The crew learned of their acceptance in early 2021 with a mission date scheduled for late 2022.
Throughout 2021 and 2022, XO served as the project manager, interfacing with MDRS and leading weekly meetings for crew team building, mission formation, and experiment development. Several modifications were made to the original experiment manifest, indicating changes in Aerospace internal priorities and government customer needs during the span of several fiscal years. The crew adapted to these changes and worked to maximize involvement from across Aerospace to ensure maximum scientific return.
As the mission start date moved closer, the crew conducted in-person training at Aerospace headquarters with experiment teams and corporate environmental health and safety staff to ensure adequate pre-mission procedures and materials training. Crew also coordinated transportation and logistics arrangements for all experiment hardware.
Upon arrival at MDRS, the crew experienced a delayed COVID PCR test result causing simulation start to occur a day later than planned. The crew adapted to this challenge and was able to recover all scientific and operational objectives on other Sols. Simulation officially began on Tuesday, November 29 and completed on Friday, December 9. Individual reports on in-simulation activities are included below.
Crew 269 accomplished their primary objective of successfully demonstrating that The Aerospace Corporation can assemble a competent analog astronaut crew, compile a feasible experiment manifest, and execute an MDRS mission within the boundaries set by mission support, weather, and isolation obstacles.
Experiment Reports
I. Project Phantom Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality Demonstration
PI/Crew Lead: Trevor Jahn, M.S. Aeronautical/Astronautical Engineering
· Objective: Create 3D models of the aera surrounding MDRS, and show its effectiveness in mission planning in tandem with Aerospace’s unique Augmented Reality Software
· Accomplishments:
Demonstrated using Remote Control (RC) rover/robot to collect imaging data to be used for photogrammetry during a spacewalk on Mars
Demonstrated using Aerial Drone to collect imaging data to be used in photogrammetry to create 3D models, and maps, to be used for mission planning during a spacewalk on Mars
Demonstrated stitching together 3D models produced from Aerial Drone images, and 3D models from satellite imaging to create a 3D model of the operational environment that can be updated with new stitched in models
Demonstrated using Aerospace’s Augmented reality software for mission planning and execution
· Relevance: Photogrammetry is now becoming more common place and has already been used in limited capacity on Mars to create 3D models of the planet’s surface. There are also public documents outlining the use of Augmented Reality hardware in NASA’s next generation space suit. This research will lay the groundwork for ways to use 3D models from photogrammetry, and the augmented reality spacesuit capability, together on future space walks and missions on the Moon and Mars.
II. Mirror Coating Experiment
PI: Chelsea Appleget, Ph.D. Aerospace Engineering
Crew Lead: Ashley Kowalski, M.S. Aerospace Engineering
· Objective: Monitor and characterize mirror surface degradation under a simulated, accelerated environmental exposure over the two-week period at MDRS
· Accomplishments: The crew deployed four different mirror samples close to Marble Ritual on Sol 1. On Sol 5 and Sol 8, the mirror samples were brought in by a morning EVA crew and inspected in the Science Dome under The Aerospace Corporation microscope by Crew Engineer. During the inspections, the locations of abnormalities on the mirrors were noted and images of those anomalous areas were saved and delivered to the PI on Earth. Upon completion of each inspection, the mirror samples were redeployed to the Martian environment on an afternoon EVA the same day. Originally, one final mirror inspection was to be performed on Sol 12; however, upon receiving feedback from the PI on Earth, it was determined that an unexpected anomaly occurred during this experiment. Thus, an EVA was performed on Sol 10 to adjust the mirrors in the field. Additional mirror inspections were completed on Sol 11 with additional exposure time on Sol 12. Therefore, while the original procedures for this experiment needed to be modified, the crew was able to make necessary adjustments to the payload and successfully utilize the unique Martian environment to obtain an abbreviated data set to characterize the mirror surface degradation.
· Relevance: Highly reflective silver mirrors are used in many space applications, but exposure to environmental contaminants can rapidly degrade optical performance. The results of exposure to a simulated Martian environment with dust, variable temperatures, and harsh conditions will be compared to traditional laboratory accelerated environmental testing, allowing researchers to correlate laboratory testing to harsh desert conditions.
To read the full crew mission summary report, please click here:
Mars Society