MDRS Crew 137 Issues Final Mission Report

Photo Credit: The Mars Society Crew 137
Photo Credit: The Mars Society Crew 137

The following is the final mission report of Mars Desert Research Station ( (MDRS) Crew 137 ( . A complete review of this year’s activities at MDRS will be presented at the 17th Annual International Mars Society Convention ( , which will be held August 7-10, 2014 at the South Shore Harbor Resort in League City, Texas (outside Houston near NASA’s Johnson Space Center).

MDRS Crew 137
Hiroyuki Miyajima, Commander
Naomi Katayama, XO, Crew Scientist, and Crew Journalist
Wataru Okamoto, Crew Engineer for Logistics
Reiji Moroshima, Crew Engineer for EVA
Mika Kawai, Health Safety Officer
Yoshimi Takase, GreenHab Officer

Crew 137 set our three mission goals based on the Mars Society’s 3S (Safety, Simulation, and Science) and completed the mission following the three goals. We completed our mission safely without any injuries or sicknesses. We simulated the life and exploration on Mars. For science, we measured the ATP (Adenosine triphosphate) of the utensil and kitchen facilities and confirmed the results of the hygiene control method. The preliminary results of simulations and sciences are shown in the following sections. We will summarize and present the details in the future.

Our food science and nutrients research group applied the cooking method designed by using only a little water, which was developed for foods after a disaster, to Mars cooking while keeping the hygiene control and our health, and minimum waste. The preserved rice and soup was prepared for cooking using only a little hot water or water. The preserved foods such as fish, laver, and insect boiled in soy sauce don’t need water for cooking. In addition, we wrapped our plates and bowls using clear plastic wrap, thus saved water to wash them. 2.5 liters/Crew member (CM)-day, 1.9 liters/CM-day, and 0.4 liters/CM-day water were used for the cooking, drinking, and dish-washing.

Table 1 Daily water consumption on Crew 137
Water consumption Quantities Units
Shower 15.1 L/CM-cycle
Shampoo 15.1 L/CM-cycle
Minimum flush water 5.3 L/cycle
Maximum flush water 7.2 L/cycle
Water for meals 2.5 L/CM-day
Drinking water 1.9 L/CM-day
Dishwashing 0.4 L/CM-day
Face wash and teeth brushing 1.1 L/CM-cycle
Hand washing 0.8 L/CM-cycle
Laundry 18.9 L/cycle
Plant cultivation 3.8 L/day

During the two weeks, all the members’ body weights were kept by the diet that our nutritionist controlled. Although enough foods which correspond to 1800 kcal in a day were provided, the body weight increased when we didn’t conduct EVA. When we didn’t conduct EVA, we walked only 1000 to 1500 steps in a day at MDRS. It was necessary to reduce the energy intake to 1600 kcal in a day. The lettuce grown in GreenHab and the alfalfa grown in the potable growing machine were harvested and served for our dinner one time.

Our house keeping research group conducted several hygiene control methods such as alcohol, sodium hypochlorite which was produced by the potable production system, and they used tea leaves and used coffee waste which is a Japanese traditional method. The Alcohol and hypochlorous acid were used for the utensil and kitchen facilities, bathroom, and shower room. The used tea leaves were used for cleaning floors. The results of the hygiene control are measured by the ATP test and Stamp test.

The ATP test and Stamp test are aimed at preventing food poisoning. The ATP kit measures the ATP quantity that is the energy source of the creature that means the number of microbes. The Stamp test (Agar nutrient medium for microbes) is used to know the kind of microbes. The values of the kitchen, the coffee maker, the microwave oven, and the desk which people touched showed very high ATPs. The largest value was 66,321 ATP in the microwave oven. After the cleaning with 70% alcohol or sodium hypochlorite, most of the bacteria disappeared.

In the stamp test, general bacteria and staphylococcus aureus were inspected. There was a lot of the staphylococcus on the places people touched. Especially, staphylococcus aureus was gathered at the door knob, the faucet of a coffee maker, and the floor of the shower room. It was not found after cleaning with 70% alcohol or sodium hypochlorite. The effectiveness of 70% alcohol and/or Sodium hypochlorite was confirmed by both methods.

Our engineering group studied for Mars habitation and the logistics cooperating with our food sciences and nutrients group. We used 4430 liters/mission and 57 liters/CM-day. The past individual crews consumed 27, 60, 81, 87, 59, and 27 liters/CM-day. Although our crew consumption corresponded to those of Crew 132 and Crew 135, we were all able to take showers per every EVA, owing to our water manager who was good at saving water for the cooking as shown in the former section.

We used a total of 4430 liters of water; flush water 2137 liters, shower 422 liters, shampoo 136 liters, water for meal 197 liters, drinking water for 148 liters, dish-washing 30 liters, face washing and teeth brushing 266 liters, hand washing 297 liters, laundry 76 liters, plant cultivation 46 liters, and miscellaneous 673 liters. As a result, we used only a little water for cooking and dish-washing and used the saved water for the showers. However we could not decrease the flush water for the toilet. As a result, almost 48 % of the water was used in the toilet. It is necessary to use a less water usage toilet.

Table 2 Water usage per crew member per day
Crews liters/CM-day
Crew 131 27
Crew 132 60
Crew 133 81
Crew 134 87
Crew 135 59
Crew 136 27
Crew 137 57

Table 3 Water consumption on Crew 137
Water usages Liters Percentages
Total water 4430 100%
Flush water 2137 48%
Shower 422 10%
Shampoo 136 3%
Water for meals 197 4%
Drinking water 148 3%
Dish-washing 30 1%
Face wash and teeth brushing 266 6%
Hand washing 297 7%
Laundry 76 2%
Plant Cultivation 49 1%
Miscellaneous 673 15%

In this mission, our food science and nutrients research group prepared about 180 cm3, 35 kg of Japanese food, and about 272 cm3, 60 kg of American food was provided at MDRS. The garbage weight for food, and toilet and kitchen papers were 0.2 kg/CM-day. As the space is limited in Mars habitation facility, it is necessary to estimate and decrease the weight and volume. For example, the weight of laminated food pouch is light and small, but the weight of canned food is heavy and isn’t small. We need to develop the light and small food container to preserve the space in future.

The current volume usage for living space of MDRS is fairly high as a manned spacecraft, which is appropriate for humans living there for a long term. However, the usage of the volume for living space and the layout of the facilities need to be rearranged for more long term exploration as well as the cost issue, although the high ceiling of the living space of MDRS creates a pleasant space for our life in the spacecraft in terms of architectural space arrangement. The traditional way of living in Japan may be very useful for them to live in a small space, in which 36 m3 can provide enough living space for one person with all the facilities such as kitchen, bathroom and storage. The habitable performance and optimal volumes for s spacecraft are defined as 9.91 m3 and 18.41 m3 by the document NASA STD-3000. Also the traditional way of recycling of water and wastes can be a hint to create a circulation of closed life system. Therefore, our proposal for a new arrangement of MDRS
would be a changeable space usage appropriate for the purpose with a recycle system of material circulation, although we would provide the final proposal after the mission on MDRS.

Crew 137 conducted 7 sortie Extravehicular Activities (EVAs) focusing on the navigation for long range excursion. Our EVA research group collected the GPS tracking data and studied the parameter and constraints for high mobility exploration on a planetary surface using the EVA equipment at MDRS.

In this study, we aimed to collect data of the GPS equipment and software program that we brought in for analysis of the routes with location, altitude and mobility speed. The different destinations we chose on each trip provided us a useful data set. In fact, since the contour interval of the map we examined for decision making of destination is still difficult to understand the real landscape of the surface of Mars for exploration, we encountered tough clamber or impossible forward movement several times, which taught us the difficulty of predicting route settings without a knowledge-based map and gave us great studies of real movement speed of deep exploration on unpredictable routes. The two ways of mobility, ATV drive and foot access, are useful for a comparison of different approaches to the destination. Although the mobility of ATV provided us a wider range of distance of travel than that of walking, the stability of ATV on rough landscape is a significantly important
issue to consider. Since this time ATV driving was limited to following the route that the past crew created from their exploration, the driving was affordable. However, off road driving is not only tough and dangerous but also impossible on steep slopes in mountainous areas. As a result, the fundamental point on high mobility planning is that the applicable parameter of mobility of pedestrians is fairly high especially for an early phase of exploration without a detailed map of the landscape.

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