Sometimes the best opportunities come outside of school, and the best learning doesn't come from education. I used to volunteer as CapCom for the Mars Desert Research Station, relaying reports and problems to the managers. I dreamed of going, walking the desert of Utah, simulating an EVA (Extravehicular Activity) on the Martian surface. Since the 2018-2019 field season was the last time I could join as a student, I took a chance and applied. I was chosen for an international crew , MDRS 200, with an experienced commander. Since it was during my finals week, I had to work with all of my professors individually to move finals and presentations. It was an effort, but well worth it.
During the mission, I have 3 main goals: Greenhouse operations, VR simulation walk-through, and determining future digitized systems. I run the Greenhouse, so I will be taking care of the plants that will supplement our meals, as well as doing a soil experiment. I will be helping the Mar Society develop their Mars VR program, by validating the training modules with first person video. I realized that the MDRS doesn't have much telemetry and data management capability. I will be determining the systems that would need to be put in place to collect and record parameters of the habitat, from room temperatures, humidity, atmospheric composition, water reserve level, and weather. Of course, I plan to have fun! I am bringing books, my instrument, and music to balance my work with play. I can't wait to be on Mars!
Big congratulations to Makiah! She will be a part of an international crew to conduct research and outreach on the Mars Analog, The Mars Desert Research Station.