In preparation for the completion of the second mission at a Space Analog for the Moon and Mars (SAM) by Crew Inclusion II, KVOA reporter Megan Spector arrived at 4:30 am to capture the anticipation of the hours leading up to this event. She reported live from within one of the two pressure suits built by Smith Aerospace Garments while standing in the prototype SAM Mars yard.
Each morning and evening CapCom lead Brenda Trinidad supplies the crew members (via email) a set of questions in a standardized document (Word, LibreOffice). The crew take time to reflect on the questions asked, and deliver their responses to CapCom and Mission Support (Ground Control). In the official mission-end debrief we will reflect upon the daily summaries and how the Mission Support, CapCom, and the crew can improve future missions, as well as how the facility itself can be improved, especially in these early missions.
The following are extracted from open email exchanges to CapCom (not from the personal, daily reflections) for Saturday, May 13, 2023.
“Good Morning Bindhu, Sahda, Andy, and Keridwen, Welcome to Day 4!
We are past the halfway point of the Mission! Attached are the Daily Mission Report templates for today, note there are two new questions in the Personal Reflections Section of the reports addressing this moment in the mission. Please be advised that this evening’s CAPCOM WIndow will be 7:00P to 11:00P, 4 hours, to account for dinner and evening EVAs. I will send you an email announcing the opening of the window.
Keeping in the spirit of National Holidays, today one Earth we celebrate National Frog Jumping Day! In 1865, Mark Twain published his first short story, Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog. Later, he changed the name and published it as The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County. This same story also had a third title, The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County. Of all the frog jumping contests that take place across the country, the most well-known might be the Calaveras County Frog Jumping Contest if for no other reason than Mark Twain wrote a story about it.
The current frog jumping record was set in 1986 by Rosie the Ribeter, who jumped 21 feet, 5-3/4 inches. (How high/far could a Martian frog jump?)
Hopefully you are not ‘leaping’ from task to task as much, settling into a comfortable routine” –Brenda Trinidad, CAPCOM out
“Good evening!! Successful day today. Completed two more EVAs early morning. Everyone continued in their research projects through the late afternoon. Now, we continue to enjoy a splendid evening here at SAM. Had an incredible Italian soup prepared by Keridwen. Andy plays the guitar (we had him play Space Oddity three times), as the rest of us sit around doing our reports. 🙂 The smell of apple crumble fills the air.” –Bindhu
“Please find my report for today. I’m currently printing the rest of the hexagonal chess set. They look so cool. Thanks again! We postponed Bindhu’s surgical tool printing for tomorrow. Just to let you know in advance, we will need a surgical needle holder, a scalpel (with blade) and a map of the Jezero crater.” –Sahda
“Andy, this is so beautiful, your song, your voice… this soothed my soul after a rather hectic day.” –Brenda, CapCom
“Thank you Bindhu, Sahda, Keridwen, and Andy for today’s reports. Given the previously submitted suggestions for streamlining the Daily Reports, I want to take a moment to thank you not only for today, but for each day taking time to complete this report. I am especially touched with what each of you shared today, a definite shift in comfort level it seems.
We did not get a chance to talk about an intended purpose for these reports for a variety of reasons … thank you for your trust in the process. As with everything with these two Missions, this part of Mission Control is still a work in progress. As one interested in developing communication and research tools that tap into the human factors side as well as the ethnographic/ emerging analog astronaut cultural aspects of simulated missions, these daily reports help tremendously towards creating both standardized and flexible reports that can meet a multitude of needs.
Tomorrow’s daily report will be a bit different in light of your last full day being on Mars. I will explain more in the morning email. I am so motivated and proud to be part of your experience so far. Enjoy the rest of your evening, I can almost smell the apple crumble from here.” –Brenda Trinidad, CAPCOM out
Keridwen Cornelius, Crew Journalist
Keridwen’s EVA objective was to test a variety of communication tools: a gel pen with a stylus, a NASA approved pen, and a pencil on paper, plus a cell phone (SIM card removed).
The challenge of dexterity while encumbered by pressurized gloves is true no matter the fidelity of the pressure suit. As with NASA astronauts, Keridwen experienced the challenge of fine motor control when visibility and dexterity are limited. She had to remove the pen and paper from a plastic bag, then write a message with each pen or pencil. She succeeded in taking legible notes. She then attempted to take notes and photos using the cell phone and stylus but found she could not even successfully press the phone’s home button with the pressurized gloves or the stylus, rendering the phone useless. She then buried the bag for Bindhu to locate and retrieve, on the next EVA.
Bindhu Oommen, Commander
Bindhu’s EVA objective was to retrieve the “lost” bag dropped by Keridwen in the prior EVA, and to obtain a soil sample.
Given that Keridwen did not tell Bindhu the location of the package, Bindhu had to navigate the entire Mars yard, following Keridwen’s tracks into the boulder field in order to retrieve the package.
Bindhu brought with her a set of vials and labels. Despite the challenge of dexterity in a pressurized suit, she was able to obtain a soil sample in a glass vial and apply a label before returning to the airlock.
Andy Squires, Communications Officer, Accessibility
Andy’s EVA objective was to simulate navigational assistance provided to a crew member on EVA who has due to an accident lost his vision. Andy worked to cut and then tie webbing into an ad hoc harness such that he could be guided to safety by another crew member (in this simulation, that guidance was provided by Matthias Beach).
The challenge of dexterity and stability within a pressurized suit is very real. As Andy is blind, he had to manage terrain which he had never explored, use tools through the challenge of inflated gloves, cut webbing, and use of a trekking pole as his cane. He did exceptionally well, and helped both his crew and the SAM staff in their understanding of the limitations of the pressure suits for future EVA missions.
Sahda Haroon, Engineer
Sahda’s EVA objective was to simulate an in-field repair of a communications console which disabled their suit to habitat communications. The crew had in the prior days developed a complex set of hand signals used to communicate between Sahda and the airlock during her EVA.
Sahda was successful in navigating from the airlock to the Mars yard and to the console (a 1980s power panel repurposed for this EVA). She used a variety of tools to remove a power terminal, strip a wire, and repair the downed comms link, all the while using the hands signals to with Commander Bindhu who was visually monitoring her progress from the airlock viewing port.
Learn more about the pressure suits employed with SAM EVAs.
Hello Brenda and everyone,
Hello from Mars! We are continuing to rock it, I think. So, today I tried to take the next step in growing our microgreens. Brandy kindly brought us Hamama brand microgreens, and the broccoli is bursting at the seams. The label says to remove the cover today. I assumed that I could just pull the brown paper off the top, but it’s attached by some kind of gel to the entire root system. So I don’t know what it means to remove the cover, and the directions are probably on the box that we don’t have. Can you help?
Also, National Apple Pie day is coming up, so we would like to bake one. I think a pie crust is impossible without fat, so I was thinking of doing an apple crumble with dehydrated (rehydrated) apples on the bottom and a crumbly topping made of oats, hazelnuts, crushed shortbread cookies, maybe pretzels, and possibly applesauce to make it cling together. Could you please send an Instant Pot recipe for apple crumble?
Also also, Sahda would like .STL-.3MF files for chess characters (king, queen, bishop, knight, rook, pawn) for the 3D printer. She says it’s not a good idea to get a file for a whole chess set, because then she would have to print the whole thing (and we don’t need a chessboard). But if we have a file for each kind of chess figure, we can print them individually and maybe only print a couple and future teams could print more. It’s National Chess Day, as I’m sure you knew 😉
Also also also, the 3-D printer came with a nozzle cleaner that looks like the love child of a sewing needle and the swab you stick up your nose in a COVID test. She doesn’t know how to use it. The printer type is a Creality Ender-3S1 Pro. Could you please find instructions for using it?
Thank you so much!
Kai, Brenda, and all of Mission Control,
On behalf of Sahda, Andy, Keridwen and myself, hello!! Everyone is doing very well. Within the first hour, the crew was already on its way to their planned tasks.
Andy has set up his sensors and has begun programming. Sahda has been diligent in monitoring the lung height and within 20 minutes completed assembly of the 3D printer; now she is working on leveling. Keridwen made a very delicious lunch, and is already attending to the hydroponics based on her training yesterday to correct EC.
Regarding one of the first projects to monitor CO2 levels, we have sensors established at the south end of the CQ and Andy has his sensors working too … We will provide updates in the daily mission report.
This is fun!
Thank you all,
The second crew to enter the Space Analog for the Moon and Mars sealed the outer airlock hatch today, May 10, at 10:05 AM. Interviews with the French Televisions commenced at 8:30 AM and continued until 9:45 AM when one by one, Bindhu Oommen, Keridwen Cornelius, Sahda Haroon, and Andy Squires entered SAM carrying their personal bins. They left their street shoes on the airlock landing and donned hab shoes provided by Astral Designs.
Bindhu Oommen, Crew Commander and Medical Officer, MD MPH FACS is a board-certified, practicing general surgeon from Dallas, Texas, U.S.A. Keridwen Cornelius, Crew Journalist, is a freelance journalist and editor whose work has been published in Scientific American, Science, The New York Times, Sapiens, Medscape, Outside, and more. Sahda Haroon, Crew Engineer, is a freshman at Purdue University going into Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering. Andy Squires, Crew Communications and Accessibility Officer, is a Senior Applications Administrator at American University and live in Arlington, Virginia.
The Mission Objectives for Inclusion II are as follows:
- Validate and implement a working draft of Standard Operating Procedures Manual for SAM.
- Document the feasibility and experiences of the early analog missions at SAM.
- Create acoustic and tactile maps of SAM.
- Initiate and establish a water quality monitoring protocol at SAM.
- Install and evaluate the utility of a 3-D printer at SAM.
- Study stress mitigation in closed environments within a pressurized and sealed environment at SAM.
- Evaluate CO2 distribution within SAM during simulation.
- Contribute to the feasibility of analog missions for visually-impaired crew members at SAM
- Study air quality at SAM
- Train non-medical persons on use of portable ultrasound for evaluation and diagnosis of medical problems.
As with the first crew, Inclusion II will be operating SAM in Mode 2 (pressurized, flow-through) for the majority of their mission, but with intervals of Mode 3 (pressurized, sealed) in order to monitor discrete rise and fall of carbon dioxide (CO2) and the overall leak rate of SAM, in this configuration. The crew will enjoy an all vegetarian diet of dehydrated and freeze-dried foods, with an exciting (from a vegetarian point of view) variety of grains and legumes, pasta, and spices, and opportunity to make home made bread.
Crew Inclusion II was sent off by Biosphere 2’s Executive Director Dr. Joaquin Ruiz and original Biospherians Linda Leigh (Mission I, 1991-93) and Bernd Zabel (Mission II, 1994). Linda lived sealed inside the Test Module prototype for 21 days as part of a series of experiments to demonstrate a closed-loop bioregenerative life support system prior to building the Biosphere 2 proper. Bernd was construction manager for Biosphere 2, and continued his work at Biosphere 2 as Columbia University transitioned the facility into a climate change research center in the mid to late ’90s.
by Kaley O’Kelley
Posted at 4:56 AM, May 10, 2023
It was the first quest of its kind, with a mission to learn more about living and working on the moon or Mars.
On April 27, a four-person crew was sealed inside the Space Analog for the Moon and Mars (SAM) for six days in Oracle, Arizona, for the Inclusion 1 mission.
The goal of the mission was to simulate the physical reality of being far from Earth. The crew went into the mission with no access to the outside world, aside from [access] to email.
SAM is a highly specialized, air-tight facility just steps away from the iconic dome at the University of Arizona’s Biosphere 2. It was created to study what it might be like to live and work on the surface of the Moon or Mars.
Read the full article and watch the broadcast at ABC 15, Phoenix, Arizona.
As with the first crew to enter SAM, Inclusion II underwent an extensive training in the function and operation of SAM prior to entry. Given the feedback and experience of training the first crew, the training time was expanded to a four-hours introduction to using air quality sensors and monitors, capturing the storing data, followed by a brief course in the donning and doffing of a pressure suit prior to the actual EVAs. The second full day (today) saw the crew training in:
- Safe management of the lung for inflation and pressure regulation.
- Use of the pressure release valves for the regulation of pressure and movement of air.
- Use of the inner and outer door of the functional airlock.
- Use of water system, from potable to grey and waste with an emphasis on system reuse and filtration.
- Management of the hydroponics.
- Use of the sinks, toilet, and shower (sponge bath, for now) with minimal water application
- Cooking with minimal waste and total food scrap (inedible biomass) recycling.
- Smoke and fire detection, detection system management, and fire safety.
- Use of the campus radio for emergency assistance, emergency egress, and management.
- Use of SIMOC and the full array of Vernier sensors provided by SAM for visiting teams.
This particular team has a bit of a leg-up in that crew commander has been volunteering at SAM for the prior six months, and wrote the SAM Operations Manual. One of Bindhu’s mission objective is to update and fine-tune the manual given her hands-on experienced inside.
Tomorrow morning, Wednesday, May 10, crew Inclusion II will enter SAM for a six days mission.
For better or for worse, all modern homes, offices, and classrooms are fairly tightly enclosed to reduce energy loss. This results in greater than outdoor ambient carbon dioxide levels, higher than most people realize. With ambient global CO2 at 420 parts per million (ppm) it is not unusual for an indoor, occupied space to be well over 1000 ppm, sometimes 1500, 2500, or more. Offices, classrooms, conference halls, even your dining room with a family gathering are in these higher ranges for extended periods of time.
OSHA suggests that the upper, safe limit is exposure to 5000 ppm for up to 8 hours. The International Space Station operates between 3000 and 6500 ppm. And the US Navy submarines are unconfirmed to operated as high as 10,000 ppm. There is little evidence to suggest that any short- or long-term health issues are associated with the upper ranges of CO2 for brief (a few hours) exposures. The astronauts on the ISS live with 5000 ppm for up to a year. While some research shows reduced cognitive function (e.g. math problem solving), there are is no risk of long term damage.
As SAM is hermetically sealed, we must monitor the CO2 levels even more carefully than in our homes, schools, and places of work. While an office might rise over 1500 on a frequent basis, the door is likely being opened, with people moving in and out with the effect of mixing the air.
For these first two mission, SAM is operating in Mode 2 (pressurized, flow-through). The crew is able to adjust valves in the Test Module, airlock and crew quarters and then the speed of the in-bound blower. The combination of the two affects the overall carbon dioxide in SAM.
Crew Inclusion I reached out on Day 2 with concern for the rising CO2. Director of Research Kai Staats logged into the SIMOC Live server to retrieve the data to that moment. SIMOC Live captures carbon dioxide, oxygen, relative humidity, temperature, pressure, and a number of other values for the duration of the mission. This data is exported to a local .csv file which the SIMOC-SAM team members can copy through a data backdoor that bypasses the router which limits crew to email only.
As with all time-series data, it takes a full cycle (in this case day-night-day) to recognize a trend. Indeed, the initial rise in CO2 climbed over 2500. This is nothing to be concerned about, but the crew wanted to bring it down, in part to demonstrate their ability to control the quality of air.
Crew Inclusion I worked extensively with SAM Mission Control to monitor and maintain the carbon dioxide levels. Crew engineer Bailey Burns conducted spot assessments of CO2 throughout the habitat while the SIMOC Live sensor array was capturing a time series dataset from closure to the end of the mission. Bailey’s data confirmed the air flow from SAM Lung to TM to Engineering Bay to Crew Quarters with an increasing density of carbon dioxide.
Mission Control advised that the sound muffler be removed from the outlet at the end of the crew quarters and an additional port be opened in the airlock. While the airlock is not at the termination of the designated airflow path, it does invoke the need to increase the blower in order to keep the lung at a nominal height, and therefore is in fact moving more air with the effect of bringing overall CO2 levels down.
In response to the crew’s request for assistance, acting CapCom Kai Staats wrote, “You have done well to reduce your carbon dioxide over the past two days. You started at roughly 700 ppm (due to all the activity inside SAM prior to entry) and rose to nearly 3000 ppm which is when you reached out for guidance. The day/night activity/sleep cycle is clearly present with a leveling of CO2 while you sleep. But overall, the trend has been down with a reading this morning of just under 1000 ppm. According to the data, you rose at 6 am.”
(see plot above for associated data points and graphical narrative)
The temperature held relatively steady, between 20 and 25C, with a dip to 16C the first night. The relative humidity ranges from 30% to 70%, clearly following a day/night cycle. This is due to “relative” humidity as a measure of moisture in the context of changing temperature, and therefore density of air. But is also due to the fact that at night the A/C units stop running their condensers, therefore the dehumidification function terminates and the humidity rises until the temperature is again high enough to activate the cooling cycle.
In the end, Crew Inclusion I was able to control their CO2 levels effectively (as demonstrated in the graph above). Given initial concerns for CO2 levels, the SAM team now realizes the importance of asking our visiting research crew to reduce their caffeine and processed sugar intake prior to arrival to SAM.
Crew Inclusion I has concluded the first mission at SAM. At 10:00 AM Mountain Time, May 2, 2023, the crew released the pressure from the habitat via three ports, and once the internal pressure was equal to the outside, ambient pressure, Lindah Leigh of the original 1991-93 two year Biosphere 2 mission opened the hatch and greeting the crew on the airlock landing.
New channels KVOA, KGUN, and KOLD were on-site to capture the story during an hour pressure conference held in the Mars yard adjacent to SAM.
KGUN – Channel 9
Space simulation wraps up at Biosphere 2
KVOA – Channel 4
Six-day Inclusion I Mission concludes on Biosphere 2 grounds