Sol 60 - How it all started and lessons learned

SOL 60 [23 November 2016]

What am I doing?! I think I’m trying to record hypolith abundance (Image Credit: Crew Geologist Dr Jon Clarke – and The Mars Society) 

My journey of MDRS started off as a volunteer. In 2014, I joined the MDRS Mission Support as a CapCom and that’s how I first became part of this ambitious idea of human exploration of Mars. My job as a CapCom was extremely fulfilling to me as I thought in that way somehow I was assisting to make this idea of manned Mars mission come true, in terms of making sure the smooth mission operations, and in turn, facilitating the valuable understanding extracted from the Mars simulation mission. Therefore, I thought my work as a CapCom could be a small but an important contribution towards Mars exploration; so I tried to fulfill my responsibilities to the best of my ability. While I was CapCom, I was encouraged to apply to join the Crew by several members of the Mission Support. At that time, I had no idea that my proposal for regular MDRS rotations will make me part of this special long-term Mars simulation mission which was being organized by The Mars Society for the very first time in its history. When I came to know that Shannon Rupert (Director of MDRS and PI of Mars 160) wants to make me part of Mars 160 mission as a Crew Biologist, my joy knew no boundaries. At the same time, it was a huge responsibility on my shoulders as the mission was founded on science operations than just isolation.


This is an ambitious and long-term simulated Mars mission. One of the principal targets of our Mars 160 science goals is to explore the extreme niches of the two significant Mars analogs: Utah Desert and Canadian Arctic for 160 sols and studying extremophile diversity. As Mars-based Crew Biologist, I undertake three principal projects – mapping the biodiversity of lichens (Earth-based team: Paul Sokoloff of Canadian Museum of Nature), hypolith abundance and physical ecology (Earth-based team: Dr Chris McKay of NASA Ames), and halophiles in ancient evaporite (Earth-based team: Dr Kathy Bywaters of NASA Ames). Personally, I am interested in detecting possible traces of life trapped inside microhabitats of evaporite deposits of the Jurassic period which has important implications for the astrobiological exploration of Martian evaporitic environment.


Furthermore, this long-term simulation is significant in terms of understanding the human efficiency to conduct science operations on Mars. I perform astrobiology research here at Mars Desert Research Station as ‘Mars-based astronaut-scientist’ in cooperation with ‘Earth-based scientists’ through asynchronous communication. We are also testing how this communication works between ‘Mars’ and ‘Earth’ based science team, which is how it is supposed to be on a real Mars mission.

I had never been part of Mars simulation mission before, unlike the other crew members of Mars 160 mission. They all had been part of a two-week MDRS rotation. So, this mission is my first attempt to relish the adventure of ‘Mars’ exploration and performing science in the spacesuit. This mission has taught me immensely in terms of science and habitation, but above all and for the first time, I learned that how much distance you travel to go to Mars, you have to travel as deep inside you. Through this mission, I learned that humanity’s endeavor of putting the feet on Mars someday is actually much more than science, much more than habitability and colonization. I think it is also about forgetting yourself and making something very profound out of you which actually surprise you. Being able to perform this job is incredibly humbling. I think it is a journey of discovering yourself as well along with the journey to Mars. That’s what this mission told me.

Kim and I :) (Image Credit: Crew Journalist and Health & Safety Officer Anastasiya Stepanova and The Mars Society) 

Views: 101

Comment

You need to be a member of SAGANet to add comments!

Join SAGANet

Photos

  • Add Photos
  • View All

Blog Posts

A consortium of representatives of European Research Organisations has taken the initiative to create a virtual institute named the “European Astrobiology Institute” (EAI) with the ambition of enabli…

Posted by Wolf D. Geppert on February 24, 2019 at 1:33am 0 Comments

A consortium of representatives of European Research Organisations has taken the initiative to create a virtual institute named the “European Astrobiology Institute” (EAI) with the ambition of enabling Europe to emerge as a key player in Astrobiology and to…

Continue

AbSciCon session on life in high salt habitats

Posted by Jeff Bowman on December 14, 2018 at 8:12am 0 Comments

Abstract submissions are open for AbSciCon 2019!  You can check out the full selection of sessions here, however, I'd like to draw your attention toward the session Salty Goodness: Understanding life, biosignature…

Continue

vemala Network

Posted by Apit Supriatna on October 7, 2018 at 1:07am 0 Comments

Vemala.com merupakan situs yang membahas seputar gaya hidup, dengan berbagai macam informasi kesehatan, olahraga, Fitness, review, kecantikan, relationship,Lifestile, Tips kehamilan,Fashion dan lain sebagainya.

Important Tips to Writing Good Dissertations

Posted by Anna Roberts on August 3, 2018 at 3:06am 0 Comments

Writing a research paper is a challenging task full of challenges. The process is involving, time-consuming and requires knowledge of several skills. The following tips are, however, essential to help students deliver maximally on their project.

 Consider working in a group: forming a dissertation group may be an important approach to work on a thesis. A research project is an involving and sometimes working on it alone may be discouraging and boring. This may lead to procrastination…

Continue

Videos

  • Add Videos
  • View All

Forum

Ask your questions here!

Started by Gina Riggio in SAGANet Discussions. Last reply by MOHIT Kakkar yesterday. 20 Replies

If you are trying to ask a question live during Ask an Astrobiologist, please do so in the main chatroom at the bottom of the screen! You can also ask on twitter…Continue

Spiritual connection

Started by MOHIT Kakkar in The Cutting-Edge of Astrobiology on Sunday. 0 Replies

Hi pls answer my spiritual questions.Continue

Conference "Impacts and their Role in the Evolution of Life", Tällberg, Siljan crater area, Sweden, 10-13 June 2019

Started by Wolf D. Geppert in Upcoming Conferences / Workshops Mar 12. 0 Replies

We would like to invite you to participate in the conference:Impacts and their Role in the Evolution of LifeTällberg, Siljan crater area, Sweden, 10-13 June 2019Topics covered by the conference will…Continue

Postdoctoral Research in Microbial Nitrogen Cycling at Ames

Started by Melissa Kirven-Brooks in Jobs / Post-docs / Other opportunities Nov 28, 2018. 0 Replies

The Bay Area Environmental Research (BAER) Institute is seeking a full-time postdoctoral researcher to perform measurements of nitrogen cycling in photosynthetic microbial mats at NASA’s Ames…Continue

Tags: cycling, nitrogen, doc, Post

© 2019   Blue Marble Space, a non-profit organization committed to science and science outreach.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service