Will you help us to grow food faster on Mars?   Leave a comment

Our Occupy Mars Tiger Team has been invited to write a professional paper on how we plan on growing food faster on the planet Mars.  Who wants the assignment?





Author Instructions

Plant Direct is a sound science journal for the plant sciences that give prompt and equal consideration to papers reporting work dealing with a variety of subjects. Topics include but are not limited to genetics, biochemistry, development, cell biology, biotic stress, abiotic stress, genomics, phenomics, bioinformatics, physiology, molecular biology, and evolution.

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We encourage authors to upload papers to the BioRxiv (http://biorxiv.org/) preprint server and use the direct submission option to submit their manuscripts to Plant Direct.

At this time, we also extend the APC discount to papers previously uploaded to the preprint servers Arxiv (https://arxiv.org/) and Peerjpreprints (https://peerj.com/about/author-instructions/)

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General Instructions

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Manuscript Preparation

In order to make the submission process as easy as humanly possible, we place very few restrictions on the way in which you prepare your article and it is not necessary to try to replicate the layout of the journal in your submission. We ask only that you consider your reviewers by ensuring that your manuscript is presented in a clear, generic and readable layout, and that all relevant sections are included. Line numbers are often helpful to reviewers. Fonts and spacing are not mandatory but do remember that the more readable your manuscript, the easier it will be for editors and reviewers to properly evaluate it. Post-acceptance, our production team will ensure that the paper is formatted and designed according to our journal style.

Please use the list below as a checklist to ensure the manuscript has all the information necessary for a successful review:

  • Title page, including title, authors list along with authors’ names, authors’ affiliations, and contact information
  • Abstract and 4–6 keywords
  • Text (introduction, materials and methods, results, discussion)
  • Literature cited (see below for tips on references)
  • Tables (may be sent as a separate file if necessary)
  • Figure legends
  • Acknowledgements, including details of funding bodies with grant numbers

Please keep the following guidelines in mind while preparing your article for Plant Direct:

  • Write for a wide audience of plant biologists.
  • Avoid abbreviations and define those that are necessary on first use.
  • Provide background info in the Introduction.
  • Cite previous publications supporting your work.
  • Cite primary research (not reviews) when possible; note that citation of recent research articles is not a substitute for citing original discoveries.
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  • Discussion should not repeat the Results, but explore the implications of the Results.
  • Be concise.

Abstract (Maximum of 500 words)

Briefly describe the manuscript’s purpose, your hypothesis, methods, results and conclusions.


  • Should be complete enough that other laboratories can replicate results.
  • Standard procedures should be referenced with variations specifically described.
  • Include complete description of experimental design and any statistical methods used.
  • Describe novel DNA constructs, genetic stocks, enzyme preparations, antibodies and other reagents, and analytical software sufficiently to allow their reproduction. Provide any genes or new sequence data discussed in the article. Novel nucleotide and amino acid sequences must be deposited in a public repository such as the GenBank database (http://www.rcsb.org/pdb).
  • The penultimate section should be Accession Numbers. Insert the following and list accession numbers: Sequence data from this article can be found in the EMBL/GenBank data libraries under accession number(s) XX000000 (list the locus identifier or gene model number where applicable, e.g., Arabidopsis AGI locus identifier, maize ZEAMMB73 number, rice OsXXg number, etc.).
  • If a list of accession numbers is in a table or figure, identify which one.
  • Accession numbers for genes must be specific for each gene; accession numbers for BAC clones or chromosomes are not acceptable substitutes.
  • List numbers for any supplemental data placed in a permanent public repository (e.g., GEO http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/geohttp://www.ebi.ac.uk/arrayexpress, or Protein Data Bank http://www.rcsb.org/pdb).
  • The last section should list all Supplemental Data files (titles only).

Author Contributions and Acknowledgments

Contribution to a manuscript must be substantive to justify authorship. An author is responsible for major aspects of the research presented. The corresponding author is responsible for ensuring that all authors have made bona fide, substantive contributions to the research and have seen and approved the manuscript in final form prior to submission. We recommend the guidelines of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) for authorship and contributorship, which stipulates that all those designated as authors should meet all four of the following criteria (http://www.icmje.org/recommendations/browse/roles-and-responsibilities/defining-the-role-of-authors-and-contributors.html):

  1. Substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; AND
  2. Drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content; AND
  3. Final approval of the version to be published; AND
  4. Agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

Each article must include an Author Contributions section (to appear after Acknowledgments) that explains how each author contributed to the research and/or writing of the manuscript. Note which of the following tasks each author performed: designed the research; performed research; contributed new analytic/computational/etc. tools; analyzed data; or wrote the paper. All other contributors should instead be acknowledged appropriately in the Acknowledgments section, and authors should seek written permission to include any individuals mentioned in acknowledgments.


Upon first submission, references may be submitted in any standard format (e.g. AMA style).

Figure legends

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  • Define symbols and abbreviations.
  • Define error bars.
  • Move accession numbers to end of Methods.
  • Separate from the Figures.

Figure preparation

  • Ensure that label text is highly visible and explanatory text only appears in the figure caption/legend.
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  • Include (and define) error bars where appropriate.
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  • Ensure that multiple panels in a figure are evenly spaced.

If necessary, we will request higher-quality figures prior to production of proofs. Figures should be conceptual and unambiguous. Guiding principles of good figure preparation are listed below. Click on or follow the “detailed figure guidelines” link below for additional information and examples. See links below on inappropriate figure manipulation and preparing figures for color vision-deficient readers.

Detailed figure guidelines (http://media.wiley.com/assets/7323/92/electronic_artwork_guidelines.pdf)

Figure manipulation

Plant Direct does not allow certain electronic enhancements or manipulations of micrographs, gels, or other digital images using Photoshop or any other software. If multiple images are collected into a single figure, be sure to separate them clearly with lines. If a digital tool is used to adjust contrast, brightness, or color, it must be applied uniformly to an entire image; targeted alteration of only part of an image is prohibited. Plant Direct reserves the right to ask authors to provide supporting data on which figures were based. Please refer to J Cell Biol 158: 1151 (http://www.jcb.org/cgi/content/full/158/7/1151) for guidance on acceptable and unacceptable digital image manipulation.

Preparing figures for color vision-deficient readers

Many readers of the Journal (1 in 12, on average) have some form of color-deficient vision; therefore, when preparing your figures, please observe the following guidelines to ensure that all readers will be able to comprehend your data.

  • In fluorescent double-staining micrographs and DNA chips, do not use the combination of red and green; use magenta and green instead.
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  • For graphs and line drawings, label elements on the graph itself rather than making a separate color-coded key. Do not try to convey information in color only, but use BOTH color and shape (solid and dotted lines, different symbols, various hatchings, etc.).
  • For more information, see the following web site: http://jfly.iam.u-tokyo.ac.jp/color/

Supplemental materials

Data and methods that are integral to the main conclusions of the article must be presented in the main manuscript; for example, it is not acceptable to put critical results or methods into supplemental materials in an attempt to shorten the main text. Supplemental figures and tables should be prepared to the same standards of quality and visual appeal as regular manuscript figures and tables, with all data and elements of the figures clearly defined and fully explained. Manuscripts that have been accepted or for which revision has been requested should follow the guidelines below for preparation of Supplemental Figures, Tables, and Data Sets.

  • Combine multiple supplemental figures and tables into a single PDF (10 MB max).
  • Include a title and complete legend for each item.
  • Briefly refer to each item in Results or Methods (e.g., Supplemental Figure 1).
  • List the titles of each piece of material at the end of your Methods.

Detailed Supplemental Data Guidelines

What constitutes supplemental material?

  • Large-scale data sets and other data that is impractical to include in the main manuscript.
  • Detailed experimental protocols or additional supporting data that would be of interest only to specialists.

Large-scale data sets

Large-scale data sets (e.g., complete or draft genome sequences, genome annotations, genetic maps, EST data sets, transcript profiles, proteomic data sets, metabolic profiles, next-gen sequencing data and plant phenotyping image datasets) that are integral to the manuscript must be provided at time of manuscript submission. These include data from small RNA, mRNA, specialized RNA libraries, ChIP-seq, whole-genome re-sequencing or genotyping, whole-genome bisulfite sequencing, etc.

At the time of publication, these large-scale data sets must be available to readers in a permanent public repository with open access (e.g., GEO http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/geo, Array-Express http://www.ebi.ac.uk/arrayexpress, NCBI’s Short Read Archive sequence database; the microRNA database http://www.mirbase.org/ or a general purpose data repository such as Zenodo) as they will not be stored at Plant Direct permanently, only during the review process if necessary. Full data sets must be released, even if only a subset of the data was selected for use in the analysis. Image datasets should be provided with the corresponding extracted data (e.g. as a .csv file). Non-permanent URLs may be provided additionally at the option of authors as a means to enable readers to access or query information more conveniently. Non-permanent URLs may also be provided for software and unusual file types requiring special software downloads or those that are not compatible with Plant Direct website. The Methods section should also contain the following information: algorithms and parameters used in assembly of genomic data; description of procedures for normalization for measurements of transcript abundances; mismatch parameters for genome-matched reads for all libraries; library adapter sequences.

In general, large-scale data sets must be complete (e.g., must include the complete set of genome sequences analyzed, ESTs identified, genes queried in transcript profiling, peptides identified, molecules identified, etc.). When appropriate and suitably sized, these should be provided in comma separated value (csv) format for publication on Plant Direct site (not as PDF files); otherwise they should be made available via public databases. Data supporting transcript profiling experiments must include complete sequence information (e.g., accession numbers, any relevant annotation data, and in the case of Arabidopsis, TAIR locus identifiers [http://www.arabidopsis.org/]). Authors are encouraged to follow the MIAME (Minimal Information for a Microarray Experiment) standards for microarray analyses http://www.clinchem.org/content/55/4/611. For plant phenotyping datasets, authors are encouraged to follow the MIAPPE (Minimum Information about Plant Phenotyping Experiment) standards (http://cropnet.pl/phenotypes/?page_id=15).

Genome sequencing

The entire raw sequence data on which the genome is based, the final assembled version, and the complete annotation (insofar as possible) of the assembled genome must be available at a public repository at the time of publication. Typical files available for download would include, for example, the genome sequences (contigs or pseudomolecules as FASTA files), a GFF or GTF file describing the gene models, together with cDNA, CDS, and protein sequences as FASTA files. Depending on the focus of the work, information about contig scaffolding and additional annotated features such as transposable elements, miRNAs and ncRNAs may be required.

Peer review

Members of the editorial board will evaluate all manuscripts upon submission to determine whether they are appropriate for evaluation by external expert reviewers.

At submission, authors are required to suggest a minimum of two reviewers. All reviewers will be vetted for legitimacy but authors should take care not to suggest people who have a conflict of interest as defined by the ASPB policy (http://aspb.org/publications/aspb-journals/policies-procedures/).

While authors’ suggested reviewers may be considered, Plant Direct editors are permitted to use any reviewer reasonably believed to be an appropriate scientific expert, except reviewers who would be excluded by ASPB’s conflict of interest policy.

If authors wish to request the exclusion of certain reviewers for other reasons, specific justification must be provided; such requests may be considered at the discretion of the editor.

Publication process

After the review, authors will receive one of the following decisions regarding their paper:

Accept: Paper is deemed suitable for publication. Publication is dependent on receipt of any final changes/proofs and payments.

Revision Requested: Some experimentation and/or revision is required

Reject: In light of the reviewers’ and editors’ comments and evaluations, the manuscript does not meet the standards for publication in Plant Direct. Decline to further consider: Our editors find this paper too far outside of their area of expertise to properly evaluate and manage. We are withdrawing this paper from consideration and returning it to the authors in a timely manner so as not to affect or delay the chances of publishing it elsewhere.

Turnaround Times

Decisions will be made as rapidly as possible. If our editors feel the paper is too far outside of their area for them to properly evaluate, the manuscript will be returned to the authors with a “Decline to Further Consider” decision within three weeks.

If revision is requested, the editorial board will evaluate revised manuscripts and determine whether outside review is required. Plant Direct strongly encourages authors to first deposit manuscripts to preprint servers so that any peer-review delays have no effect on the scientific community’s ability to access the science.

The board will strive to render a decision after only one revision. Requested revisions must be submitted within 2 months unless an extension is granted.

If the authors choose to resubmit a declined manuscript after completing additional experiments, the resubmitted version will be treated as a new manuscript and subject to the full review process.

Accepted articles are published online within five working days, provided payment and the return of final proof files.

Article Publication Charges

All articles published by Plant Direct are fully open access: immediately freely available to read, download and share, and enjoy the benefits of a CC-By license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/). To cover the cost of publishing, Plant Direct requires the payment of an Article Publication Charge or APC. Current members of the ASPB and/or the SEB are afforded a discount.

Direct submissions to the Journal from non-society members who do not upload to an approved preprint service prior to submission – $2,200

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Direct submissions to the Journal from current society members who do upload to an approved preprint service prior to submission – $1,650

Submissions transferred to the Journal from the Supporting Journals that do not upload to an approved preprint service prior to submission – $1,760

Submissions transferred to the Journal from the Supporting Journals that do upload to an approved preprint service prior to submission – $1,650

Appeal Policy

All decision appeals should be formally submitted to the editorial office at PlantDirect@wiley.com. Please be sure to include the manuscript ID number, original decision letter, and basis for appeal.

Contact Any other questions or concerns may be sent to the editorial office at PlantDirect@wiley.com.

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Posted August 2, 2017 by Kids Talk Radio in Education

Can we go to school on Mars?   Leave a comment

Devon island is closer to Ireland than California.   We want high school students in Island to follow this story.  What would it take for a student “Tiger Team” to support this team of explorers?   http://www.BarbozaSpaceCenter.com  


Mars 160 Crew Report (#1) | FMARS Mission

[Sunday, July 16, 2017, Devon Island] — A red bi-propeller plane is approaching a brownish hill in the High Arctic. On top of it, sits for 17 years now a tuna can-shaped habitat named the Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station (FMARS). After few low fly-bys, the plane is slowing down, landing 2.5 km from the Hab.

The station is very similar to the Mars Desert Research Station(MDRS), but with different construction so that there is a little more room inside. The upstairs layout is reversed, and the bathroom and toilet spaces are partitioned off together with a little tool room, so there is less open space downstairs. The deck seems a little lower so there is less headroom in the lower deck but more in the loft, which provides room for general storage.

The first half of the Mars 160 crew has landed. The other half of the crew will join them the day after. Landing the crew in two shots… Interesting thoughts for manned mission to Mars!

This was not an easy journey from several aspects. Due to weather and ground conditions, the crew has been stuck for 3 weeks at Resolute Bay.

My role as commander is to make sure that we use efficiently our resources. Time is the most precious of them. Despite our situation in Resolute, the crew stayed active and productive. But I cannot hide the fact that I had strong doubts about the fate of the mission. At some point, after travelling so far, you have to reach your final destination or the mission itself loses its meaning! [Alex]

As the Japanese proverb “isogaba maware” says, meaning “slow and steady wins the race”, I think waiting is always a part of a mission. At least we were closing in to FMARS. So do not lose our presence of mind, do not lose a time to prepare, do not lose a chance if it might happen, were the only things what we could do in Resolute. [Yusuke]

Resolute is a fascinating place, and serves as an analogue for what a Martian settlement of several hundred people could be like. I was able to collect a lot of data in this regard for future use.  The environment is also very interesting, and we were able to use it to familiarise ourselves with conditions on Devon Island and to plan possible future expeditions to Cornwallis Island. [Jon]

Resolute Bay is a beautifully colonized Inuit hamlet, which is also called the window to the North Pole and a place with no dawn. I find an amazing resemblance between the way Resolute is colonised and the future human colonization of Mars. Staying at Resolute and waiting for the right conditions to land at FMARS was uncertain and unanticipated. The mission was getting shorter and it seemed that the science goals were going to be compromised. [Anushree]

Being delayed for so long opened up a lot of uncertainty as to how I would be able to carry out all of the research I had planned for the mission. The delay seemed to have benefits it allowed for extra time for Anastasiya to join us. [Paul]

I didn’t wait as the rest of the crew, instead I was struggling with bureaucracy of Canadian visa centre. I didn’t get my visa twice. The third time I applied with almost no hope, but as Russians say “Bog lubit troecu” (God loves the Trinity). This time it worked out and I got my “golden” visa, packed during night, hit the road next morning, had seven flights and finally saw my crew! I was extremely happy and full of joy to finally make it, to see my Martian family and to continue the work towards mission to FMARS! [Anastasiya]

FMARS… The first Martian like habitat built by The Mars Society in 2000 on the edge of the Haughton crater in Devon Island. The crater is a shallow circular depression 15 km across and 140 m deep. The air is so clear the further rim much closer. It’s the most impressive and Mars like setting of all the analogue stations. You can really imagine a Mars base on the edge of what would be a small crater on Mars. The ground is greyish brown in colour, rocky, composed of dolomite rock (brown) on the rim and the crater fill (grey) on the floor. Freeze-thaw action over the permafrost has worked the rocky ground into polygonal networks of sorted stones. There are networks within networks, the smaller polygons are 1.5 m across, the larger ones, with the largest rocks, are 4-5 m across. The landscape is undulating, a low plain cut by river valleys. Clear, gravel-bed streams fed by snow-melt flow down them. There are many relict snow patches.

Regarding living organisms, there is almost no vegetation, a little moss here and there, a few lichens, and tiny clumps of wild flowers. In wet areas you can find interesting biofilms and hypoliths. There is rare trace of animal activities. But there are fossils – corals, sponges, and nautiloids – everywhere.

Now the crew has arrived and settled. One could expect a lot of excitement and joy. But there their feelings are much more diverse and nuanced.

I feel relieved. Being able to have started my research this week and getting my monitoring equipment installed and running has made me much more relaxed and able to think more critically about the rest of the work I need to do, as well as meeting the goals of the simulation. [Paul]

When my crewmates showed me the aerial view of the habitat, I was emotional. I felt this urge to be in the habitat now. Our small habitat located on the top of the planet, totally oblivious to the rest of the world. I couldn’t stop smiling. So, how do I feel now? Obviously great… no more philosophy. [Anushree]

The feelings are diverse. Excitement to start new chapter in life at such a unique place and with my Martian family. Confusion to understand that I am here and not at MDRS. Sadness to miss crew members, who couldn’t make it. Curiosity to see the discoveries of our science research. Anticipation to get the results of our projects. [Anastasiya]

I love this place! Haughton crater is amazing. Some aspects of the station like the ladders between levels, are a source of frustration.[Jon]

Not very excited as I anticipated. I don’t know why for sure. I guess because our mission had already began when we arrived at Resolute for me. Now it is a time to take a step forward solemnly and silently. [Yusuke]

With the straining days we spent so far, I did not have too much the liberty to feel anything. For me it is mostly, stacking all the tasks, delegate and synchronize the crew to work properly and efficiently. But I have noticed that during few minutes during the day I manage to escape from my thoughts and worries. When that happens, I feel amazed to have reached a great Mars analogue on Earth. [Alex]

The Mars 160 program is two separate expeditions. The first occurred last fall at MDRS. FMARS expedition is the final chapter of the program. It will be over soon. The main goal of these expeditions is science operations. It includes what field science can be conducted on each site but also how remote and crew scientists cooperate with each other. As the mission is shortened by the delay induced by the earlier conditions, the expectations had to be reviewed in order to match the new time constraints.

For this mission, I was appointed as a scientist going to be based on Mars principally to execute the vision of scientists based on Earth. For me, this association has been the most fascinating part of my sojourn for Mars 160 expeditions. Considering the extreme remoteness and less resource, I expect this mission to be more productive for testing the asynchronous communication and coordination between the remote science team and me to conduct field science.

I believe FMARS is a vantage point to access various Martian polar regions features at one place: an ancient impact crater which once contained lake analogous to the Gale crater on Mars, geological features of hydrothermal origin, periglacial patterned ground, impact-induced hydrothermal evaporite deposits, the day-night cycle, and total isolation.

The delay in the mission, would of course narrow the chances of scouting the area, thereby, would restrict sampling events. However, with appropriate planning and coordination among the crew, I expect to meet the goals set by our remote science team.[Anushree]

I will not be able to get the data I originally wanted on the crater floor. This is only partly due to the delay and mostly related to prevailing mud along ATV routes, but this is a factor out of our control. As a result of the condensed time and modified research goals, I will have more to do and fewer EVA’s to do them.

My research is focused on cataloguing the different types of patterned ground around Haughton Crater and gaining a better understanding of how these permafrost features form and evolve over time. Similar features have been observed on Mars, so understanding how they form on Earth can yield insights into how they form elsewhere in the solar system. [Paul]

My expectations of the mission are that we will have a safe and enjoyable time that will colour our reflections for the rest of our lives. I expect us to all be able to collect material we can use in different areas later on, be in media stories, published research, lectures, or ideas for design work on Mars technology and architecture.

I will be focusing on three areas: 1) studying facies in the limestones of the Silurian Allen Bay Formation that the Haughton Impact structure has been excavated into, 2) classifying and mapping, regolith landforms of a polar Mars analogue, and 3) collecting operation data on daily scheduling, time management, EVA capabilities during a simulated Mars surface stay.  Only the third will be significantly impacted by having a shorter period to collect data.  However, when used in conjunction with the data from the first phase of the expedition in Utah I expect to have more than enough to draw useful conclusions. [Jon]

I expect to return safe and sound, live peacefully, enjoy this moment with my crew mate. I am looking forward to be a dependable crew as my ideal role on Antarctica (JARE), who can take care of a thankless job.

Arctic is not as easy as we suppose it to be. It is inevitable that the field science projects take the priority over other projects such as mine. That’s alright. So, I either cross out some of my personal projects or find a way to collaborate with other projects.

I will focus on 3D archives. Basically this idea is coming from architectural 3 dimensional aspects. People have to decipher Mars appearances by 2D information. How we could convert 3D Mars data into 2D transportable data by easy, simple, quick, convenient, inexpensive ways in terms of a human centred design to support field research specialists on Mars? I will try few things such as anaglyph 3D picture of some field site or 360 degrees high resolution photo. [Yusuke]

As I always say, set the high goals, because they will help you to grow in many ways! The experience of first Mars 160 expedition helped me to grow as a person, gain diverse skills and showed new view of our controversial world. From FMARS I expect not the less, the harsh environment and even more limited resources than at MDRS will require new levels of creativity, stamina and hard work.

I’m coordinator of psychological studies by Institute of Biomedical Problems (Russia) and the more time crew spends in extreme environment and isolation, the more valuable data IBMP can receive. Fortunately, these tests do not interact with the field science activities, so my work is in lesser extent affected than theirs by the delay. [Anastasiya]

The earlier delay is unfortunate. Mars analogue field science is something very particular: a scientist on Earth would take samples and bring them back to the Lab for further analysis while on Mars you would probably conduct preliminary analysis of the samples before deciding which one to bring back to Earth and which one to dispose of. The new time constraints will not allow our crew scientists to conduct too much analysis, if any. They will have to rely on their eye ball judgment and intuition. Something a robot could not do. The outcome of this expedition will be interesting in that regard.

To support the science activities, I will not conduct my technological project about the spacesuit user interface. Also, I cannot afford that one of the scientists (Anushree, Jon or Paul) take the role of the shotgun carrier (bear protection) during EVAs. So I will assume most of this role during our stay at FMARS.

This crew is very dedicated to the mission and I am very confident that our limited time here will be spent wisely. I also like to think that from our misfortune delay, lessons will be learnt and used for future crews. [Alex]

A full report about the Mars 160 mission at FMARS will be presented at the 20th Annual International Mars Society Convention, scheduled for September 7-10,  2017 at the University of California Irvine. For more details, please visit our web site: http://www.marssociety.org/conventions/2017.

Comment: Bob Barboza will be presenting about “Mars Tiger Teams” at the Mars Society Convention, September 7-10, 2017.

Information: Suprschool@aol.com

Posted July 25, 2017 by Kids Talk Radio in Education

Who Wants to Study About Mars in the USA?   Leave a comment

El Morro National Monument

Barboza Space Center News:   We have just returned from our summer New Mexico geology field trip. We are always looking to compare and contract Earth and Mars. We invite you to visit our most recent photo essay below.   In addition, we are paving the way for our 2018 Barboza Space Center Tiger Teams from Australia, South Korea and Cabo Verde.  We visited the El Malpas National Monument to continue our studies of volcanoes in New Mexico and Cabo Verde.    Plans are underway to study Mars from New Mexico. You can follow our programs by visiting www.BarbozaSpaceCenter.com

Photo Essay: Bob Barboza July, 2017, New Mexico
El Morro National Monument
IUCN category V (protected landscape/seascape)
El morro view.JPG
Location Cibola County, New Mexico, USA
Nearest city El Morro, New Mexico
Coordinates 35°2′18″N 108°21′12″WCoordinates: 35°2′18″N 108°21′12″W
Area 1,278.72 acres (5.1748 km2)
1,039.92 acres (420.84 ha) federal
Created December 8, 1906
Visitors 59,422 (in 2016)[1]
Governing body National Park Service
Website El Morro National Monument
El Morro National Monument
El Morro National Monument is located in New Mexico

El Morro National Monument

Show map of New MexicoShow map of the USShow all

Area 221 acres (89 ha)
Built 1605
NRHP Reference # 66000043[2]
Significant dates
Added to NRHP October 15, 1966
Designated NMSRCP May 21, 1971

El Morro National Monument is located on an ancient east-west trail in western New Mexico. The main feature of this National Monument is a great sandstone promontory with a pool of water at its base.

As a shaded oasis in the western U.S. desert, this site has seen many centuries of travelers. The remains of a mesa top pueblo are atop the promontory where between about 1275 to 1350 AD, up to 1500 people lived in this 875 room pueblo. The Spaniard explorers called it El Morro (The Headland). The Zuni Indians call it “A’ts’ina” (Place of writings on the rock). Anglo-Americans called it Inscription Rock. Travelers left signatures, names, dates, and stories of their treks. While some of the inscriptions are fading, there are still many that can be seen today, some dating to the 17th century. Among the Anglo-American emigrants who left their names there in 1858 were several members of the Rose-Baley Party, including Leonard Rose and John Udell.[3] Some petroglyphs and carvings were made by the Ancestral Puebloan centuries before Europeans started making their mark. In 1906, U.S. federal law prohibited further carving.

The many inscriptions, water pool, pueblo ruins, and top of the promontory are all accessible via park trails.

It is on the Trails of the Ancients Byway, one of the designated New Mexico Scenic Byways.[4]

Posted July 10, 2017 by Kids Talk Radio in Education

Virtual Science Tools for Students   Leave a comment

The Barboza Space Center in the USA is collaborating with Australia and Cabo Verde on the Occupy Mars Learning Adventures STEAM++ Program (science, technology engineering, visual and performing arts, computer languages and foreign languages).  We are helping students to become future astronauts, engineers and scientists. www.BarbozaSpaceCenter.com.

May 6, 2017
The apps we curated for you today provide students with virtual labs where they can learn more on a wide variety of scientific phenomena. Using an inquiry-based learning approach, students will get to access interactive simulations, collaborate on quizzes, explore tables of elements and solve scientific puzzles all while having fun. We have included both Android and iPad apps, check them out and see which ones work for you. Enjoy

6 Good Virtual Science Lab Apps for Students
1- Lab4Physics – A Lab in Your Pocket
‘Lab4Physics is an educational solution designed to support teachers around the world improve science education, by making it easy and inexpensive to bring lab experiences into the classroom.  In this lab, students can find tools (like an accelerometer, a sonometer or a speedometer) that can help them measure gravity or acceleration in real time.’

2- Experience Biology
‘invites students to investigate basic scientific phenomena and concepts in biology through simulations and interactive labs. Using an inquiry-based learning approach, the apps challenge middle-school students with investigations and quizzes based on the students’ explorations of each interactive unit.’

3- 3D Molecules Edit & Test
‘“3D Molecules Edit & Test” allows one to build and manipulate 3D molecular models of organic and inorganic compounds. The key features of “3D Molecules Edit & Test” are 3D printing support and the “Test yourself” mode that allows learners to check their knowledge of the 3D structure of molecules. This is a valuable tool for chemistry students when learning about molecular bonding and orbitals with the aid of 3D visualisation. The app is great for any high school or college student in chemistry courses.’

4- Toca Lab
‘Welcome to Toca Lab! Explore the colorful and electrifying world of science and meet all 118 of the elements from the periodic table…Toca Lab is a place for playing and having fun, and with it we hope to inspire kids to explore science. While the periodic table in Toca Lab is accurate, the way new elements are created is not. Instead, it’s a fun way to experiment, discover and create curiosity in the world of science. Toca Lab is just a starting point for further exploration!’

5- LabInApp Physics Demo
‘LabInApp is a 3D, interactive virtual laboratory tool that focuses on heuristic approach of understanding science. This heuristic ideology facilitates students and teachers to perform science experiments on computers or mobile devices, and eliminates the physical barriers of actual laboratory. LabInApp’s real-time 3D computer graphics technology promotes “learn by doing” pedagogy. This enhances the ability of teacher to deliver a live demonstration of experiments/concepts/phenomenon/complex ideas in a controlled environment.’

6- Thomas Edison’s Secret Lab
‘Together with Thomas Edison, the greatest inventor of all time, the Secret Lab Kids will show you how fun science can be. In fact, it’s a BLAST! Unknown to the world, Thomas Edison had a secret lab where he invented a virtual version of himself and Von Bolt, a nearly-completed robot, to guide and inspire future generations of young scientists. ’

Posted May 8, 2017 by Kids Talk Radio in Education

Help our team cook space food.   Leave a comment


Students at the Barboza Space Center are exploring the idea of cooking space food.  This article will help to set the stage at your school or afterschool STEM program.

How bright is the future of space food
by Staff Writers
Honolulu HI (SPX) Feb 27, 2017

illustration only

Research at the University of Hawai?i at Manoa could play a major role in NASA’s goal to travel to Mars in the 2030s, including what the astronauts could eat during that historic mission.

A trip to Mars and back is estimated to take about two and half years, and ideally, their diet would be healthy while requiring minimal effort and energy. UH Manoa mechanical engineering student Aleca Borsuk may have the solution.

“I picked a really hearty, heat tolerant, drought tolerant species of edible vegetable, and that is amaranth. It’s an ancient grain,” said Borsuk, who determined that she could significantly increase the edible parts, which is basically the entire plant, by changing the lighting. “If you move the lights and have some of them overhead and some of them within the plant leaves, it can actually stimulate them to grow faster and larger.”

This is without adding more lights and by using energy efficient LEDs. Thanks to Borsuk’s work with lighting, plants could play an important role in the future of space travel.

“This plant would do the same thing that it does here on Earth, which is regenerate oxygen in the atmosphere,” said Borsuk. “It also can provide nutrition for the astronauts and if you can imagine being away from Earth for many years, you know tending something that’s green would have a psychological boost as well.”

A 2013 UH Presidential Scholar, Borsuk presented her research at the Hawai?i Space Grant Consortium Spring 2016 Fellowship and Traineeship Symposium and at the 2016 American Society for Horticultural Science Conference in Florida. She is mentored by UH Manoa Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences Associate Professor Kent Kobayashi, who is also an American Society for Horticultural Science Fellow.

Posted March 4, 2017 by Kids Talk Radio in Education

International Art Contest for Students   Leave a comment

Mars Society to Hold Int’l Student Mars Art Contest

The Mars Society announced today that it is sponsoring a Student Mars Art (SMArt) Contest, inviting youth from around the world to depict the human future on the planet Mars. Young artists from grades 4 through 12 are invited to submit up to three works of art each, illustrating any part of the human future on the Red Planet, including the first landing, human field exploration, operations at an early Mars base, the building of the first Martian cities, terraforming the Red Planet and other related human settlement concepts.

The SMArt Contest will be divided into three categories: Upper Elementary (grades 4-6), Junior High (grades 7-9), and High School (Grades 10-12). Cash prizes of $1,000, $500 and $250, as well as trophies, will be given out to the first, second and third place winners of each section. There will also be certificates of honorable mention for those artists who don’t finish in the top three, but whose work is nevertheless judged to be particularly meritorious.

The winning works of art will be posted on the Mars Society web site and may also be published as part of a special book about Mars art. In addition, winners will be invited to come to the 20th Annual International Mars Society Convention at the University of California, Irvine September 7-10, 2017 to display and talk about their art.

Mars art will consist of still images, which may be composed by traditional methods, such as pencil, charcoal, watercolors or paint, or by computerized means. Works of art must be submitted via a special online form (http://nextgen.marssociety.org/mars-art) in either PDF or JPEG format with a 500 MB limit. The deadline for submissions is May 31, 2017, 5:00 pm MST. By submitting art to the contest, participating students grant the Mars Society non-exclusive rights to publish the images on its web site or in Kindle paper book form.

Speaking about the SMArt Contest, Mars Society President Dr. Robert Zubrin said, “The imagination of youth looks to the future. By holding the SMArt Contest, we are inviting young people from all over the world to use art to make visible the things they can see with their minds that the rest of us have yet to see with our own eyes. Show us the future, kids. From imagination comes reality. If we can see it, we can make it.”

Questions about the Mars Society’s SMArt Contest can be submitted to: Marsart@marssociety.org.

Posted February 22, 2017 by Kids Talk Radio in Education

Mars Projects in the USA   Leave a comment

Mission Summary – Crew 174

Mars Desert Research Station End of Mission Summary

Crew 174 – Team PLANETEERS


Team PLANETEERS (All Indian Crew):

Commander:  Mamatha Maheshwarappa

Executive Officer/Crew Scientist:  Saroj Kumar

Engineer/Journalist:  Arpan Vasanth

GreenHab Officer:  Sneha Velayudhan

Crew Health & Safety Officer/Geologist:  Sai Arun Dharmik

Success occurs when your dreams get bigger than your excuses


The Solar System is a tiny drop in our endless cosmic sea (Universe). Within our solar system, a very few planets host an environment suitable for some life forms to exist. The closest one being Mars after the Earth, following the success of rovers such as Spirit, Opportunity, Curiosity and several space probes, the human understanding of the planet has reached new levels. The next important aspect is to find out if there exist any life forms or if the planet had hosted any life in the past. Although the rovers send out a lot of information about the planet, so far humans have not found anything substantial. With advancements in science and technology by organizations such as NASA, ESA, ISRO, CNSA along with private industries such as SpaceX manned mission to Mars seems to be within reach in a few years. To carry out successful missions humans will have to develop key tactics to cope up extreme conditions, confined spaces and limited resources. Team Planeteers (MDRS Crew 174) is the first all Indian crew consisting of five young aspirants from different domain who have come together to embark on a special mission in order to develop such key tactics. The crew was successful in executing the planned experiments. The key for their success is the temperament and dedication shown by each individual and fixing small issues immediately. Since all the members were of same origin, food and cultural aspects was an advantage. Going forward the team is planning out for outreach activities. As a part of QinetiQ Space UK, Mamatha will be involved in outreach, education and media activities (TeenTech & STEMNET). Similarly, Saroj and Sneha will be conducting STEM outreach activities at Unversity of Alabama and Rochester Institute of Technology respectively.

Figure 1 Team Planeteers inside the MDRS Hab

Research conducted at MDRS by Crew 174:


  1. Characterizing the transference of Human Commensal Bacteria and Developing Zoning Methodology for Planetary Protection

The first part of this research aims at using metagenomics analysis to assess the degree to which human associated (commensal) bacteria could potentially contaminate Mars during a crewed mission to the surface. This involved collection of environmental soil samples during the first week of the mission from outside the MDRS airlock door, at MDRS airlock door and at increasing distances from the habitat (including a presumably uncontaminated site) in order to characterise transference of human commensal bacteria into the environment and swabbing of interior surfaces carried out towards the end of the mission within the MDRS habitat to characterize the commensal biota likely to be present in a crewed Mars mission. In the interests of astrobiology, however, if microbial life is discovered on the Martian surface during a crewed mission, or at any point after a crewed mission, it will be crucial to be able to reliably distinguish these detected cells from the microbes potentially delivered by the human presence.

The second part of the research aims at testing the hypothesis that human-associated microbial contamination will attenuate with increasing distance from the Hab, thus producing a natural zoning.  The previous studies hypothesize that there may be relatively greater contamination along directions of the prevailing wind because windborne particles or particle aggregates allow attachment of microbes and help to shelter them against various environmental challenges, e.g. desiccation, ultraviolet light, etc. Efforts are afoot to try to develop a concept of zones around a base where the inner, highest contamination zone is surrounded by zones of diminishing levels of contamination occur and in which greater Planetary Protection stringency must be enforced (Criswell et al 2005).  As part of that concept, an understanding of what the natural rate of microbial contamination propagation will be is essential.

a. Sample collection process:

Two sets of samples were collected as the analysis will be carried out at two different stages.

i. Samples of the soil outside the MDRS were collected aseptically into sterile Falcon tubes. Sampling sites included immediately outside the habitat air lock (with presumably the highest level of human-associated bacteria from the crew quarters), at increasing distances from the airlock along a common EVA route (to track decrease in transference with distance), and at a more remote site that ideally has not previously been visited by an EVA (to provide the negative control of background microbiota in the environment).

Figure 2 Soil Samples collected at increasing distances from the Airlock


ii. Various surfaces within the crew quarters were swabbed using a standard sterile swab kit to collect microbes present from the course of normal human habitation. These included door handles, walls, table surface, airlock handles, staircase, working table, computer. This did not expose the science team to additional infection risks (such as not swabbing toilets).

Figure 3 (a) Sterile Swab Kit (b) Internal swab collection (working table)

Sampling locations within the habitat and soil sampling sites during EVA were recorded by photographs and written notes. After collection, the samples were refrigerated at the MDRS Science lab, and then returned with the crew to London for storage and analysis. This is analogous to medical samples being collected from ISS astronauts and returned to Earth for lab analysis. The molecular biology sample analysis and data interpretation, including all the metagenomic analyses to identify bacterial strains present, will be conducted by Lewis Dartnell in collaboration with John Ward. The collaboration agreement is already in place and lab space and resources confirmed. The analysis is carried out in two different stages:


a. Stage 1 Analysis:

The first set of samples will be tested using off-the-shelf simple tests for the presence or absence of human associated microbes, namely coliforms.  These are simple to use and give a yes/no answer, so plots will be made of yes/no results with distance from the hab in different directions.  This could be correlated with prevailing wind directions and/or to show common human pathways from the hab versus directions in which people typically don’t go.

b. Stage 2 Analysis:

The second set of samples (internal swabs) will not be cultured or otherwise processed back on Earth (as culturing of human commensurate and environmental microorganisms could present a biological hazard to the MDRS astronauts). All sampling materials and storage containers were provided by the study, and thus will require no consumables or other resources from the MDRS. All sample collection pots and sampling materials will be removed by the study scientists, and the sampling process itself (small soil samples and surface swabs) will not impact the MDRS habitat or its natural environment.


  1. Zoning and sample collection Protocols for Planetary Protection


Planetary protection is one of the major subjects that require immediate attention before humans travel to Mars and beyond. MDRS being one of the closest analogues on Earth with respect to dry environment on Mars was the best site to perform and simulate issues related to planetary protection. Our work on planetary protection was to simulate zoning protocol to be used to manage relative degrees of acceptable contamination surrounding MDRS and implementation of sample protocols while at EVA’s for soil sample collection, geological study and during hab support activities etc.


a. Zoning protocols for crew exploration around MDRS

During the mission, we extensively studied the zoning protocol in and around the hab and how contamination issues on Mars can be restricted.  On the first day on ‘Mars’ we used the geographical map of MDRS exploration area to formulate and characterize zones around the hab and the strategy for sample collection.

i. Zone: 1 (Area within Hab) – This area is believed to be the most contaminated with the human microbes.

ii. Zone 2 (About 20 meters from the hab) – This is the area where most of the hab support systems and rovers are parked. This zone is supposed to have less microbial contamination than hab but higher than Zone 3 and 4.

iii. Zone 3 (Beyond 20 meters but within 300 meters around the hab) – This area is considered to have regular human presence during an EVA. Soil samples of Zone 2a and 2b were collected for future analysis in lab to study human microbial contamination.

iv. Zone 4 (Special Region) – This area was considered to have insufficient remote sensing data to determine the level of biological potential. This area was marked as no EVA zone and can only be studied in detail by remote sensing data using satellites or drones.


b. Sample collection protocols

The crew studied the sample collection protocol requirements for all the activities such as soil sample collection, geological study and during the operations of hab support systems etc., this was to avoid forward and back contamination.  The protocols were planned to be initiated from the time a crew member leaves the airlock for EVA and until he/she returns from the EVA to Hab. During the EVA, the crew noted every experiment procedure and made sure there was no breach in spacesuits and no human microbial contamination during soil collection. The tools used for the soil collection were required to be completely cleaned and sterilized. The study of rocks on site during an EVA was one of the major challenges where it was realized that special tools were required to pick the rock samples without getting them exposed to spacesuit gloves. Using only gloves to pick rock samples could also rupture the spacesuits and thus there could be a decompression issue. Even with a detailed geological exploration map of MDRS and high resolution satellite imagery, it was noted that the use of drones can drastically reduce the human EVAs and lots of geological and terrain information can be obtained in a shot span of time. This step would heavily reduce the human EVA and thereby contamination issues to special regions where there could be a possibility of having a biological activity. Water, a major carrier of human microbes is proposed to be within the structures of hab. During the simulation, the crew made sure that there was no water spillage outside the hab.


  1. Development of New Techniques to Enhance Plant Growth in a Controlled Environment

A crewed mission to the Mars demands sufficient food supplies during the mission. Thus cultivation of plants and crops play an important role to create a habitat on Mars. There are some factors to be considered before cultivating crops on the Martian surface. First, the planet’s position in the solar system, Mars receives about 2/3rd of sunlight as compared to the Earth that plays a vital role in crop cultivation. Second, the type of soil used for crop cultivation should to be rich in various nutrients. Since the MDRS site is considered as one of the best analogue sites on Earth to simulate Mars environment, the experimental results of plant growth at MDRS was considered for this research. This research aims at growing fenugreek (crop that is rich in nutrients and grows within the mission time) to determine the effect of Vitamin D on the growth.

At MDRS, the fenugreek seeds were allowed to germinate for 2 days. In the mean-time, an EVA was carried out to collect soil from different parts on ‘Mars’. The soil was collected based on the colour and texture. Five types of soil, white (01), red (02), clay (03) coloured soil, course grey soil (04) and sand from river bed (05) were collected. Two set of experiment pots were made as shown in the Figure 4. Each had 15 pots, 10 pots with Earth soil (ES) labelled with different levels of Vitamin D (0- 0.9) and 5 pots of Mars soil (MS) labelled according to the area of the soil collected (0-5). One set of 15 pots was placed in the Green hab and the other in the controlled environment (under the Misian Mars lamp) after planting the well germinated seeds. The plants were watered twice a day in order to maintain the moisture in the soil.

Figure 4 Experimental Setup with Earth and ‘Mars’ Soil

The temperature and humidity levels were monitored twice a day throughout the mission both in the green hab and the controlled environment (Misian Mars Lamp). It was noted that there was a steep increase in the temperature in the green hab as the outside temperature was high that inturn decreased the humidity in the green hab drastically. The situation was managed by switching on the cooler and then by monitoring the heater thermostat. The plants were watered with specific measurement of Vitamin D every day. The experiment was successfully completed by monitoring the growth regularly, it is evident that humidity and temperature impacts the growth of plants. The plants in the green hab showed more growth of primary root than the secondary, the leaves were normal in colour and growth. In the controlled environment, the root growth was fast, the plants developed many secondary roots in few days. The plants looked healthy, the leaves were dark green and bigger than the ones in the green hab as seen in Figure 5.

Figure 5 Plant growth in (a) Misian Mars Lamp (b) GreenHab

In conclusion, the graphs were plotted for the root growth for the Earth Soil with Vitamin D in the green hab and the controlled environment from Sol 08 to Sol 13. The graphs indicated that the low level of Vitamin D (0.1) enhances root growth in the green hab. Under misian Mars lamp, the growth rate is high for ES 0 (without Vitamin D).   Readings tabulated for the Mars soil was plotted on daily basis but, after few days it was noted that there was neglibile growth in the Mars soil. The graphs plotted for few days are as shown in the Figure 6.

Figure 6 Root growth of seedlings (a) Misian Mars Lamp (b) GreenHab


  1. Study of magnetic susceptibility of the rocks and their comparison


The primary objective was to study the magnetic susceptibility and magnetic minerals of the rock samples collected and compare them with multi-spectral remote sensing data back in the lab. MDRS contains a range of Mars analogue features relevant for geological studies. It contains a series of sediments derived from weathering and erosion from marine to fluvial and lacustrine deposits containing also volcanic ashes (Foing et al. 2011). With the preliminary understanding of the MDRS geographical exploration area and identification of potential targets, the lithology can help us decipher the structural history of the region, with understanding of genesis of such rock types and aid exploration efforts. The previous studies done at MDRS reveals that the magnetic susceptibility did not vary significantly near the Hab. Hence, the locations of various geological formations far away from the hab were selected to study the distribution of magnetic minerals. The selected locations for the same were sedimentary outcrops, cattle grid, burpee dinosaur quarry, widow’s peak and near the Motherload of concretions.

We found layers of horizontally bedded sandstone and conglomerates, sandstones and siltstones. Some of them seem to have inverse grading which could have been created by the debris flow. Gypsum and lichens were spotted around the area of sedimentary crops. In the next visit to Motherload of concretions, we have seen a variety of lichens: yellow, black, orange and grey. And in the Cattle grid region, colors of mudstone and conglomerates bands of rich cream, brown, yellow and red were found. The basalt samples were collected from the gravel in the cattle grid region and from the URC north site (porphyr) to be studied in the lab. Near the widow’s peak, shales were found along with gypsum shining bright, distributed around that area. Most of the region was covered mostly with loose soil. The locations of all the samples collected from different regions were marked with the help of GPS. The magnetic susceptibility of rock samples were measured and documented them using the magnetometer in the science lab. Inspection of samples was possible with the microscope at the science dome, with 10X zoom as seen in Figure 4. They need to be studied in thin sections for better understanding and will be done on Earth under the guidance of specialists.

Figure 7 (a) Porphyr under microscope (b) Siltstone under the microscope


  1. Drone Experiment

‘Mars’ has a harsh environment that risks Extra Vehicular Activity (EVA). The main objectives of the drone experiment were:

a. To ease EVAs by understanding the scenario of a region that is hard to access by rover/ATV.

b. To simulate the application of drone in search of a crew member during an emergency situation and during loss of communication.

c. Video making and photography for outreach activities.

The first objective to make use of drone in isolated regions was successfully executed on Sol 07. Since it was the first trial, the drone was operated in beginner’s mode restricting the field of operation to 30m range. The crew was looking out for soil samples, when confronted by a medium size hill the drone was sent out to check for soil sample availability on the other side. The region looked to be same and it was easier for the crew to take a decision to abort the mission and move to a different location.

Execution date:                Sol 07 (Earth date: 02/05/2017)

GPS Satellites:   13

Flight mode:                     Beginner’s mode of max 62 FT altitude and within 30m range.


The second objective was to simulate an emergency situation when one of the crew lost communication with other member during EVAs. The beginner mode range was too less and hence the drone was operated in advanced mode to search the missing crew member. The mission was successful in identifying the crew member.

Execution:         Sol 11 (Earth date: 02/09/2017)

GPS Satellites:   14

Flight mode:                     Advanced mode with 121 FT altitude and 500m range.


Figure 8 Drone Searching a Crew Member


Several photographs/videos were captured as per the planned outreach activity.

Posted February 15, 2017 by Kids Talk Radio in Education