Crew Spends Christmas at the Mars Desert Research Station!

24 December 2006

Send your Season’s Greetings to the MDRS Crew 54 by commenting to this article.  I will forward them all to the Crew!

Reports from the MDRS
2006-2007 Field Season

MDRS Crew 54
NASA Spaceward Bound Crew Three
December 22, 2006 – January 7, 2007

Crew 54 has several mission objectives: We plan to continue the work started by Crews 52 and 53 in developing the Spaceward Bound curriculum. This curriculum will be used to train the next generation of explorers here at MDRS. We also plan to study human factors issues related to working under the constraints of a Mars mission and in an isolated environment. Our geology goals include studying nearby gully deposits and monitoring these gullies for changes over the course of several Spaceward Bound rotations. We plan to install dataloggers at these sites to measure temperature, relative humidity, and ground moisture to relate the environmental conditions to the formation mechanisms of the gullies. We will also provide geologic characterizations of several waypoint sites visited by Crews 52 and 53 where they collected samples and buried slides for future biologic study. We will continue the microbiology work of Crews 52 and 53 as well by continuing the dilution and plating studies and assessing the microbiologic activity at several different sites. We will also be conducting biology experiments in a bioreactor which simulates microgravity (by spinning) and will attempt to grow plants in this system. We also plan to use the observatory and take images of the Moon as well as other celestial objects.

Name Speciality
Heather Smith Commander, NASA Research Associate
Andrew Duncan Executive Officer
Frank Centinello
Audrey Fan
Samantha Pavon
Wayne Sutton Crew Engineer

Heather Smith Heather Smith is a research associate studying the microbial ecology of lunar and martian analogs, and a graduate student in biological engineering. As a research associate she is involved with several projects studying the microbial population and habitat of martian analogs.

Andrew Duncan Andrew Duncan received a Bachelor’s of Science in Electrical Engineering in 1998 and a Master’s of Science in Electrical Engineering with an emphasis on instrumentation in 2003 from Utah State University. Currently, he is a research associate with the Utah State University Research Foundation working on bioinstrumentation electronics.

Frank Centinello Frank Centinello has wanted to explore the universe since he was young. Currently, he is in graduate school at the State University of New York at Buffalo, where he studies estimation, guidance, navigation, and control. He also did undergraduate work there in aerospace engineering.

Audrey Fan Audrey Fan was born on December 20, 1986 in Bryan, Texas but has lived in the small city of Walnut, California for most of her life. She graduated from Walnut High School in 2004 and is currently a junior at Stanford University majoring in Electrical Engineering and Biological Sciences. Audrey’s research interests include image processing of ENVISAT satellite data, electric impedance spectroscopy, and astrobiology. She has loved space exploration her whole life, and recently rediscovered her desire to be an astronaut. She is a sometimes silly but always friendly person whose interests include working with kids, hiking, music, art, debate, and simply being around people.

Samantha Pavon Samantha Pavon was born in Montreux, Switzerland. She is Swiss and Spanish. She graduated from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) in 2004, with a Diploma in Engineering Physics, specializing in Plasma Physics. She is now a PhD student in Energy Sciences. Her thesis subject is about the application of plasmas in aerodynamics. She has always been attracted and fascinated by aeronautics and astronautics. She is orienting her career in that direction because it is an extremely motivating and challenging field. She thinks that flying and discovering unknown worlds are the most beautiful dreams of humanity.

Wayne Sutton Wayne Sutton is a Senior in the Mechanical Engineering (ME) Program at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). He is always thinking of new ideas that may benefit the world. He started his education at Parkland College in Champaign IL in the Spring of 2001 and transferred to UIUC in the Spring of 2004 with a 3.94/4.00 GPA. Other than the Summer of 2006, over the past 3 Summers while he was in college he worked as a subcontractor in roofing and construction of homes and garages.

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