Artemis Moonbase Sim 1 Exercise
February 26-March 11,2006

How did we do?

Peter Kokh, Mission Commander Reporting

[Mission Summary published on the MDRS website]

March 24, 2006 Expanded Report

We had started this exercise with an ambitious and packed plan. We simply did not have time to do it all. The day could have been a few hours longer, there could have been another day or two in each week. But that's a better situation than one of having planned to little and ending up sitting around with nothing left to do.

Yes, we did good! We had planned a number of things to set a lunar atmosphere or ambiance, from lunar frontier tableware to green tint sunglasses that neutralized the prevailing Mars tones outdoors to special night time excursions. Some of these worked, others did not. We got to do only one nighttime sortie, a pedestrian outing within sight of the Hab (for safety) in our new Sim Lite suits outfitted with miners' helmet LED headlamps. That was the one time I really felt transported to the future somewhere on the Moon - the highlight experience for me personally.

But it was not about experiencing being on the Moon. It was all about projects that contributed to our understanding of what needs to happen at future outposts, whether on the Moon or Mars. Our Early Space Frontier Diet was an overall success.

We wanted to simulate working out on the surface, exposed to vacuum, but protected by a shielded canopy from the cosmic elements. That is the kind of environment we foresee utilities and supplies needed to be accessed everyday will be placed.

Photo of our "Moon Flag" - [inset upper left in photo shows the Mars Society Tricolor: Red, Green, Blue.] There is no official flag of the Moon. Nor does the Moon Society have a flag. But as we had the opportunity to fly such a flag, we submitted a half dozen designs to our crew members, three months before the mission. There was no consensus and the commander decided to go with this design (not his personal favorite) for two reasons: (1) it followed suite with the Mars Society tricolor [upper left inset] and (2) It was the simplest and least expensive to have manufactured. Gray for the color of the lunar surface; Blue for water or hydrogen which we will have to scavenge at the poles or from the solar wind volatiles trapped in the upper surface blanket of dust and debris; Green for the vegetation-rich mini-biospheres in which Lunan pioneers will live. Once up, everyone liked it. Whether we adopt the flag officially or not is another question.

This was the first Moonbase simulation exercise to date at the Mars Desert Research Station. Given that the typography, geology, and coloration of the MDRS landscapes are very "Martian" and not at all "Lunar," we were limited in what we could do. We concentrated on simulation exercises and projects applicable to both Moon and Mars outposts. There was no geology or exobiology component to our science program. We did do several more modest science projects.

  • We carried out the following projects and studies:
  • EVA Sim Lite
  • Construction of a "Simulated" Pressurized Tunnel
  • MDRS GreenHab Water Recycling Study
  • Simulation of an Early Space Frontier Diet
  • Human Factors Psychosocial Study
  • The MarsSkin Suit Project
  • Space/EVA suit Ergonomics Test
  • Site Management Study with two demonstration projects
  • Dust Control Study
  • Project MAST road documentation and surveys
  • Several Modest Science Projects

EVA Sim Lite:

Sim Lite Suits; the Simulated Pressurized Tunnel - Previous crews have imagined a lightly pressurized tunnel from the Hab to the GreenHab, the Observatory, and the Engineering/Utility areas through which crew could walk with light outer garments and a breathing mask with an oxygen supply. This should work well on Mars where there is a given atmosphere that can easily be concentrated to the point where pressure suits are not needed, just an oxygen supply.

On the Moon where there is greater risk from exposure to the cosmic elements including cosmic rays, solar flares, and micrometeorites, we foresee instead an extensive system of canopies or hangers shielded by a regolith blanket but otherwise open to the vacuum. These would allow the wearing of lighter weight, less cumbersome, less tiring pressure suits for access to materials, supplies, and utilities needed or tended on a regular basis.

To model the Sim Lite lightsuits, we purchased 7 Tyvek™ coveralls with integral hoods: 2XL,2L, 2M, 1S. For helmets we acquired 8 Russian surplus gas masks for a steal, but found these very uncomfortable and tiring to wear. In their place we substituted the full face shields that the Youth Mission had left behind. This combo worked very well to provide the feeling of protection without the degree of limited freedom of movement experienced with the MDRS full sim suits. These suits served well for our EVA Lite simulation under areas assumed to be shielded but unpressurized,

photo 1 - photo 2

Construction of a "Simulated" Pressurized Tunnel:

But for the Hab-GreenHab/Greenhouse route, we felt that a fully pressurized tunnel would be more appropriate in both Lunar and Martian outpost applications. To demonstrate that, we designed a simulated pressurized tunnel with a lightweight PVC framework, the upper half covered with a UV-resistant green vinyl snow fence fabric: more holes than material. The practical need is for a visual separation of the route from the fully exposed areas surrounding it where full Sim EVA suits would be required. But we needed to create the visual separation without also creating something that could be ripped off by the wind. The final design was approved by the MDRS Engineering team. Parts for subassemblies that could be put together ahead of time in Milwaukee and then shipped to Hanksville were purchased. This gave us a head start on construction. Additional components were purchased in Salt Lake City.

On March 8th we dedicated the "Robert A. Heinlein Memorial Tunnel" or "The Heinlein" for short. The framing was fully completed and about 2/3rds covered when snow and subsequent mud brought the project to a halt. Now crew members can walk between Hab and GreenHab without donning a Sim Lite suit, much less a full MDRS EVA suit. It will be a semi-permanent addition tot he MDRS complex for which our crew will be credited for a long time to come. The downside was that the tunnel took more time to complete than we had hoped to spare for it, leaving less time for other projects.

photo 1 - photo 2 - photo 3 - photo 4

MDRS GreenHab Water Recycling Study:

Leslie Wickman installed flow meters to monitor how graywater is recycled in the GreenHab for reuse in flushing toilets. Granted, this is a very limited recycling program but with a short field season, we are not easily able to do more. After thorough testing of the inlet and outlet water, she concluded that there was not much difference in quality other than a reduction in suspended particulates. Her conclusions are that the microbial processes are not working effectively because the inlet water is too alkaline. We do use biodegradable shampoos and soaps, but apparently, they are still too alkaline to keep the system healthy. Leslie will be preparing a full report to the Mars Society with recommendations and options for consideration to upgrade the operation.

Simulation of an Early Space Frontier Diet:

Some MDRS Crews try to get in the frontier spirit by following vegetarian diets and menus. Some go further and rely more on dry and dehydrated ingredients and substitute sources of protein. But there is no consistency or mandate here and other crews have chosen to eat as they would on Earth.

We chose to simulate an Early Space Frontier Diet assuming a thriving Greenhouse in operation for at least three months. Thus we integrated fresh vegetables into our diet, pretending that they were harvested in our greenhouse. We also had tilapia one night. Tilapia is a good tasting fish which thrives in greenhouse-based water recycling systems and may well be the first non-vegetable source of protein on the early Lunar and Martian frontiers.

Laurel Ladd was in charge of this project and we had more tasty meals with rave revues than those that just filled our tummies. Laurel will post the crew-approved recipes in an online Early Space frontier Cookbook to which other crews should feel free to contribute.

All crew members adjusted well to this diet with no gastrointestinal problems, thanks to Laurel's careful inclusion of needed protein and fiber as well as nutritional elements. This project was judged by all to be a success.

Laurel has kept a log of all sim-breaks, where for practical reasons we were unable to follow the diet 100% all of the time. This is useful information on which others can plan an even more successful food simulation.

Human Factors Psychosocial Study:

William Fung-Schwarz brought along survey books for each crew member, almost 300 pages in length, covering a host of factors. His report on this project is separately posted in today's files.

The MoonSkin Project:

William Fung-Schwarz brought along a mechanical counter-pressure suit that he had designed and fabricated himself. He tested the suit thoroughly under varied conditions. His report on this project is separately posted in the Crew 45 files for March 11th.


Space/EVA suit Ergonomics Test:

Leslie Wickman took range of motion readings on one crew member first in ordinary clothing, second in the Mars Skin Suit, then in the MDRS EVA suits. Her report will be separately filed at a later date.

Site Management Study with two demonstration projects:

Peter did a time-abbreviated study looking at possible Site Management Policies and Practices. Maybe this study will spur some long range planning for the MDRS complex and surroundings. We had wanted to go into greater depth on policies for nature preserves, outdoor warehousing, and planning for Hab Complex expansion. . This study has limited application to the MDRS facility and surroundings but will be much needed on the Lunar and Martian frontiers. A report on this study will be found in the crew 45 files for March 10th.

Three Site Management Demonstration Projects were competed by William and Peter. William rearranged all the surplus and discarded materials, sorting them by type, in the "Antarctica" storage area. This included sequestration of combustibles at a safe distance from the utilities (generator, diesel fuel, propane.)

William also did trail maintenance of the path up the hill to the Observatory.

Peter subsequently installed solar trail markers along this path. They shine nicely at night!

Dust Control Study:

This study by Peter has two parts: first we undertook a "census" of all the gaps and holes and other breaches in the MDRS Hab Hull; second, we did a first sketch of the many possible benefits for MDRS operations and expansion of the simulations program that would be enabled by closing these gaps. The full report will be found in the Crew 45 files for March 10th. We hope that the Mars Society and MDRS Engineering Team take this report to heart.

Project M.A.S.T. - Mars Analogue Simulation Trainer:

Hugh S. Gregory made substantial progress towards completing his work which will result in a Virtual Reality tour of the MDRS Hab and surrounding territory. This he achieved despite having to withdraw from the Hab and sequester himself in the Whispering Sands Motel in Hanksville as he sensed the onset of a very serious bout of bronchitis. Once he had recovered after several days of bed rest and high fever, he continued his work, operating out of the Sands, alone, using an ATV that belongs to Don Foutz, the Mars Society Agent in Hanksville. His final report is among the files posted for today, March 11th.

Additional Research: [both of the following were science projects completed by Peter Kokh while he was on MDRS Crew 34 in February 2005, but never published on the MDRS Crew 34 website. We took advantage of the opportunity to publish them on the Crew 45 MDRS site.]

Colors for quick identification - Peter conducted a simple test to determine which colors for vehicles and spacesuits would provide easiest and fastest identification from a distance against the narrow color ranges and highly pixelated terrainscapes of the Moon and Mars. The results surprised him. This Science Report is posted with the Crew 45 files for March 1, 2006.

Reusing MDRS Trash - As there is no recycling program within more than 100 miles of MDRS, it is impractical for crews to sort trash. But a lot of things go into the trash bags that could be recycled in arts and crafts projects.

Proposed Projects not Undertaken of Completed:

Laurel Ladd had proposed a Complex Closed/Semi-Closed Systems (CICCS) study [pdf file]. Partly because she was preoccupied with meal preparation and partly because she was feeling much below par for most of our time here, she did not get to work on this project. But she did gain some insights in her stay that will help her to conduct an improved study at another time.

Peter Kokh had wanted to model the appearance of Earth from the Moon. Prior to arriving on location, a number of ways of doing this physically were brainstormed but all involved unacceptable costs, and none would have stood up to the sometimes fierce winds. Instead we occasionally checked out a StaryNight™ software depiction of Earth from the Moon on a laptop. This program shows Earth at the correct phase and even shows which parts of which continents are in the lit portion facing the Moon at any given moment. But we were not able to dedicate a laptop or monitor to this display full time, so the project was demonstrated but not really executed.

Peter Kokh had also wanted to gather additional measurements and data as well as feedback from the crew towards an ergonomic study of how well the MDRS Hab and surrounding facility does or does not work, along with recommendations for modifications and possible additions to support simulation of facilities needed on Mars and the Moon but not provided for in the present setup. But there was simply no time. We will seek feedback on several relevant points from the crew to add to material gathered while we were on Crew 34 last season. On that basis and with those limited inputs, a provisional report may be filed at some later date.

Publicity was a major goal. We did not succeed in attracting major national media attention, nor local media attention in the hometown areas of the crew members (Long Beach/Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Milwaukee, Minneapolis - St. Paul, Montreal, Miami. But Crew Journalist Guido Meyer did find receptive outlets in his native Germany and filed radio reports which were aired there daily.

For the Mars Society, we were good guests. To some extent we had little choice given the local geology, to concentrate on projects of relevance to outposts on the Moon and Mars alike. But we also made improvements and suggested others that could make the Mars Desert Research Station a better place for all crews to come. We can be proud of that.

One of the obstacles was the imposed schedule, mandating the hours of 7-9 pm for Crew Reports to Mission Control. With the very slow data uplink in b/s not kb/s and many service interruptions, this period almost always ran overtime by 1-3 hours. Eventually, we found a rebellious work around. Do our reports early, and have the evening to ourselves!

While we did not complete all of the ambitious projects, we all are quite happy and satisfied with what we did accomplish here. Our efforts may help to advance the day when the first permanent Lunan pioneers are striving to transform an initial private-enterprise supported outpost into the first settlement beyond Earth.

Looking Ahead

Will we do it again? At the time of this report, we have not yet fully funded this first exercise, and need to raise some $1,500. If we receive more than that sum in the next two months, that will give us a nest egg for a sequel next year, when, with the experiences of this mission under our belt, we can expect to plan a more ambitious program.

To help fund the exercise just completed and build funds for an encore, go to the Moon Society Main Page and click on the Make a Donation link in the left hand menu column. This calls up a PayPall secure donation page. You MUST also send an email to stating the purpose for which you are giving, and listing the PayPal donation details (date and amount). If there is no email followup, your donation will go into the Society's general funds, and will not help fund this project.

But we will be looking at alternative venues. Not all projects worth conducting require an "analog Lunar landscape." For example, a simulation of the month-long lunar dayspan/nightspan lighting cycle could be done in a blacked out aircraft hanger, as we try to model appropriate energy-intensive, manpower-light operations during dayspan and energy-light, manpower-intensive operations during the two week nightspan.

We'll be exploring many options and all the costs, obvious and not-so-obvious, associated with each.

Meanwhile, we need to do a major membership recruitment drive.

To the Moon!

Peter Kokh
President, The Moon Society


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