F-XI LDM Crew thanks YOU!

August 21st, 2007

Finally, we would like to conclude by thanking many, many people for all the help and support you’ve given us over the past 4 months, as well as during the several months of planning leading up to the mission. We could not have accomplished our mission goals nearly as successfully without your help.

In particular, the F-XI LDM Crew would like to thank several groups and individuals for outstanding contributions to our mission. First, thanks to Robert and Maggie Zubrin, without whose vision and passion this mission might not have been come into being. Thanks to Chris McKay who has been there for us every step along the way, and has helped us to overcome every road block we stumbled across. Thanks to Paul Graham for leading the Advance Engineering Team, and preparing the hab for our 4 month stay, and to Emily Colvin, crew alternate who went the extra mile and helped us throughout the mission. Thanks to Mission Support and our dedicated CapComs for checking in on us every night and helping us out with everything we’ve asked; to the Engineering Team for making sure we had a safe and comfortable habitat to live in; and to Science Advisory Group for providing scientific guidance. Thanks to all of our sponsors, including Greenleaf, NASA Spaceward Bound, Mars Society Canada and their grant from the Canadian Space Agency, Wataire Industries Inc., Aerogrow, COM DEV, McNally Strumstick, University of Colorado Book Store, The Mac Shack, Solutions, Government of Quebec, and Strider Knives. Thanks especially to a few of the most dedicated members of our remote support team, including Tony Muscatello, Julie Edwards, Artemis Westenberg, Dr. Tam Czarnik, Dr. Marc O Griofa, Judith Lapierre, Gordon Osinski, Bob McNally, Grant Bonin, Kevin Sandell, Kevin Sloan, Alex Kirk, Penny Boston, and Shannon Rupert. Thanks to Aziz Kheraj and the Southcamp Inn, as well as our guides from Resolute, Stevie, James, Jason, and Norman, and to First Air for providing help in the north. Thanks to the Polar Continental Shelf Project for logistical support, and acting as our safety net. Thanks also to Peter Muckerman of First Lead Inc. for providing wilderness first aid instruction, and ultimately a safe summer. Thanks to everyone who has followed our mission and sent us emails of support and praise. You have all kept us inspired, and focused on the big-picture reasons for doing this challenging long duration expedition.

Last but not least, thanks to all of our family (thank you Mom and Dad!! The crew appreciated your gifts and recipes!) and friends for providing support in a myriad of different ways, but especially for the moral support, gifts, and entertainment you’ve provided us with throughout our 4 months away from home. You provided the motivation we needed during our most stressful times, and we can’t wait to see you when we return home!

With that, Commander Battler & the F-XI LDM Crew are signing off from FMARS for the last time this season, and looking forward to seeing you in L.A., or perhaps on Mars.

Final Commander’s Summary Report

August 21st, 2007

Mission Success! The F-XI LDM (FMARS 11 Long Duration Mission) simulation has ended. After 100 Operational Mission Days in simulation, we ended “sim” at the stroke of midnight on Tuesday August 21, 2007. In total, we were in simulation for 101 “Earth Days”, but because 37 of our days were spent on Martian Time (as sols), each day was 39 minutes longer, and hence we lost one entire Earth Day.


Appropriately, along with enjoying our first sunset in 4 months, I am pleased to report that this week we successfully collected the last of our science data, and met all of our engineering, education, and outreach goals. We’ve had a safe, happy summer, and crew dynamics are as great as ever - we’re all still friends! Today we even had a bit of time to breathe in the crisp Arctic air (and take a quick dip in Cornell Lake) and enjoy our surroundings, before beginning our mad dash to inventory, pack, clean, and write final reports.


Tomorrow we will begin our last full day on the island together by meeting with Astronaut Clay Anderson, who is currently in orbit aboard the International Space Station. Then, sadly, we will start to leave the island in groups of 2 or 3. The work won’t end quite yet, however! After leaving Devon Island, we will head to Los Angeles to present preliminary results at the Mars Society conference, and we will spend the next 6 months writing up final mission results.


It has been an incredible summer and although I’m disappointed to see it coming to an end so quickly, I’m satisfied that we have accomplished exactly what we set out to do: conduct a long duration simulated Mars mission under nearly all of the constraints a real Mars crew would face, and safely execute an ambitious science program, eventually yielding results which will contribute to our understanding of Mars. At the same time, we carried out a rigorous education and outreach program, reaching hundreds of students and young professionals, and captured the imaginations of many “fans” and followers. We anticipate that our mission results will ultimately contribute to the planning of a real mission to the Red Planet, and help to inspire the next generation of explorers. I’d like to congratulate my team for a job exceptionally well done, and say thank you for always maintaining a high level of passion, enthusiasm, and dedication to our cause, as well as a great sense of adventure and fun. This was a life-changing, unforgettable experience, and I hope to one day go to real-Mars with you guys :)

Commander Battler

21 AUG - The countdown after 100+ days and the immediate aftermath

August 21st, 2007

15 minutes to minutes and the end of simulation, James and I forged an artistic sign saying “WE DID IT!!!” to be the last webcam image of the F-XI LDM. We pointed one web camera out the window and another on the sign. We captured the images and shut the computers down. We made it four months, we did good science, and we are all good friends.

we did it!!!final shot on web

At the bottom of the stairs I shouted upwards hurrying the crew to get in the airlock for our pre-midnight countdown and bed of simulation. In the downstairs everyone was frantically trying to put their boots on and get ready to run out. “Let’s go! Let’s go!” I exclaimed. We all crammed into the airlock, for the first time all together ever, and were twitching with excitement… well others may have been twitching from the TVP aftermath of four months. Someone started the countdown, I’m not sure what the real time was but maybe my video that I took will tell us one day. 10-9-8-7 line? Oh yeah, 6-5-4-3-2-1!!!

The door popped open and a rush of fresh air greeted the crew. The sun had already set and the terrain had an unfamiliar pink and purple glow. We were all over the place like a kindergarten class on recess. Geologist were looking at rocks, biologists were putting samples into the fridge, and the rest of us just looked around, around, and around. Eventually we all came together in one spot and started chatting. We ended up spending more time chatting to each other than looking at the scenery. We are going to have serious attachment issues when we go home!

After some group photos we made our back inside to spam the world. We wanted to let them know we were done and successful. I apologize to anyone who received my email more than 4 times, any less than that I’m not as sympathetic. I received some great replies already and I feel all tingly to be done. I feel more complete for sure. I also finished a draft of my paper last night before the countdown so that definitely helps.

Thank you again to everyone! More news is coming soon and we are preparing for a chat with the NASA Academy at Ames Research Center. Tomorrow we have a phone chat with Clay Anderson on the International Space Station!


DAY 100: Mission Success!

August 20th, 2007

Hello all,

Today is DAY 100 of our simulation here at FMARS, and we’re getting ready to pack up and leave the island in just a few days… I can’t believe it’s almost over already!!

If you want to hear a 20 minute report from our last simulation day, please tune in to “Sounds like Canada” on CBC Radio 1, from 11:00 - 11:30 am (local time, everywhere across North America), Tues Aug 21 or listen LIVE online at http://www.cbc.ca/radio/. Then, this Saturday morning Crew Engineer Ryan Kobrick will be on CBC News World, for a live TV interview.

Tomorrow the crew will do a live interactive Mars Ed event with the NASA Ames Academy, and our PCSP Principal Investigator Chris McKay will be giving a live introduction for the group on site at Ames. Also, we just got final confirmation that on Wed morning, the F-XI LDM Crew will be meeting with Astronaut Clay Anderson, who is currently in orbit aboard ISS! This will be our final “Mars Ed” Event, and an incredible way to finish off our season.

Finally, before heading to L.A. to present our results at the Mars Society conference, a few of us will be meeting with Dr. Gary Goodyear, Member of Parliament and Chair of the Canadian Space Caucus, to discuss the F-XI LDM mission and the future of space exploration in Canada.

It’s been an exciting summer! Thanks for following along, and for all your help and support along the way!


Journalist Report - Ryan L. Kobrick - 19 August 2007

August 19th, 2007

Journalist Report
Ryan L. Kobrick
19 August 2007

Today was Earth day 100 of our simulation! That’s 100 Earth days and 99 sim days because we lost a day due to Mars time. Tomorrow we wake up for our final hours on “mars” as it will be our last full day of simulation. The crew plans to “return to Earth” with a count down at midnight and the opening of the airlock hatch! With the sun setting before midnight we will feel the rush of fresh air hit our faces surrounded by the majestic pink and purple Arctic skies. The moment will be a major milestone for the group and a final conclusion to some of the human factor studies! Today the crew was busy writing inventory lists of the hab’s contents, working on papers, analyzing final samples, and just about everything else imaginable on their Sunday. This was not a day off for us since we swapped our day off with the first sunset celebration.

Since we have to pack a lot of gear and prepare it for shipping our free time roaming the Arctic out of sim will be limited. Mel, Simon and I are the first to leave Devon on the 23rd with the others following the next day. I will be catching a flight home on the 24th and be able to spend a few days with my family and friends. I just barely missed my brother’s engagement party, which was this past Saturday, so I will have to catch up on lots of family photos. It was a hard event to miss and I left lots of messages for them to know I was there in spirit.

The crew still has a few tricks up their sleeves for exciting news before we depart this week so stay tuned!

Since this is my last official journalist report I would like to say thank you to everyone who was involved with the F-XI LDM - to me that includes everyone who helped run the mission to everyone who read the words, watched the videos, checked out our pictures that we were transmitting from the Arctic through space. That especially includes my family and friends who keep sending me updates and asking important questions like “how are you doing?” instead of “what… is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?” THANK YOU!


F-XI LDM Video Log Episode 22 - Photo Reflections

August 18th, 2007

F-XI LDM Video Log Episode 22 - Photo Reflections


August 16th, 2007


The sun finally set yesterday, dipping briefly below the horizon for a few minutes, before dawning bright and new just after midnight. As nights go, it wasn’t much to speak of, but we celebrated it anyway. It has been a long day. Our last sunrise was in late April, in Resolute. It was -30 degC, the world was white, and we were just setting off on our great adventure. Now it’s a balmy 7 degrees, the landscape is Mars red, and we’re nervously contemplating reintegration into society. Will we smell funny? Hopefully not, after copious showers in Res. Will we flinch at social contact? Mmm, maybe. Will we remember to behave ourselves? Will we want to? I’ll admit that I spent precious air miles on an upgrade for my flight to LA, to reduce the odds of being stuck next to a crying baby or some other challenging neighbor. Still, I’m not too worried - a salad bar, a hot tub, and a glass of wine, and I’ll be right as rain.

F-XI LDM Video Log Episode 21 - Castle Mercury (12 AUG ‘07)

August 15th, 2007

F-XI LDM Video Log Episode 21 - Castle Mercury

12 August 2007 - Journalist Report - Ryan L. Kobrick

August 12th, 2007

Journalist Report
Ryan L. Kobrick
12 August 2007

The Underview Effect
For those that have been privileged enough to travel in space, looking down at a unified Earth with no borders and being inspired is often referred to as the “Overview Effect”. Well the crew of F-XI LDM has been privileged to live in the Arctic for four months and we have experienced views that cause what I like to call the “Underview Effect”. This means that the view we have seen right here on Earth is so inspiring that it feels like we are in space or on a foreign planetary body. Last night I took an “underview effect” photo around midnight that was majestic and with a quick 180 rotation and a little change in contrast, it looks like a view from space of an ocean! An older shot seen second was just of the neighboring sky on June 26. The originals are at the end of this post.

Underview #1

Underview #2

Cliché Exploration
Today Simon led a special exploration EVA near the Gemini Hills area to search for fossils. Since this location is ‘before’ the ‘Gemini’ Hills turnoff we have nicknamed the Utah-looking zone “Castle Mercury”. Taking one of our visiting Quebec photographers on the EVA, we made our way up the valley following the river by foot since it was not passable by ATV. We found a good spot to make our way to the top of the castle structure for an amazing view of all the terrain leading back to the hab in the North… a little white spec on the horizon. At the top of the castle we found some fossils. We thought it was pretty cliché to climb to the very top of the feature just to find what we were looking for.

Thomas the Engine & Tripod Snap!
One other “naming” that occurred this week was when I nicknamed the engineering ATV “Thomas” after the little engine that could. The ATV has been hauling water, the generator for EVAs, and it just keeps on trucking. I was able to film the ride to Orbiter with my video camera on my tripod on the front of Thomas. Unfortunately on the way home the tripod snapped at the base mount. I guess there will be some spare parts for the next crew! I am actually surprised by how well most equipment has lasted over the past four months. The crew has been careful with all the equipment, but there will be casualties for the sake of exploration!


Underview #1 Original

Underview #2 Original

The Psychology of Isolation

August 9th, 2007

I’ve been writing a weekly column for the Fredericton Newspaper, the “Daily Gleaner”. Here’s what I wrote this week…

Q. If you didn’t already have something in mind we’re interested in the psychology of being cooped up in isolation with the same people for so long.

A. You might find this hard to believe, but after nearly 100 days of sharing the same 2-story, 8’ diameter living space, the seven of us are all still friends! Our secret? Careful crew selection. We knew before the mission started that we were all compatible as both roommates, and colleagues.

When the initial call for applications went out I approached a few of my closest, most reliable friends in the Canadian space community, and we decided to apply together for positions on the crew. Four of us were selected, along with three Americans, who came with very strong recommendations from our colleagues. In November 2006, the final crew was announced, and we started working together to plan our mission, through weekly teleconferences. This was a great way to start getting to know each other, but not quite enough…

We all have some friends that are easy to get a long with for weeks, months, or years on end, and others, that when put to the test, we can only tolerate for a few days or hours at a time. The Mars Society Selection Committee wanted to determine ahead of time that the crew had at least a 2-week threshold for tolerating each other, so in March 2007 we did a test-run. We lived together in isolation at the Mars Desert Research Station, where we bonded as a team, and also trained in many areas necessary for Arctic survival, including wilderness first aid, polar bear safety, and firearms training. By the end of those two intense, challenging weeks, we knew that we not only got along well together, but that we worked well together, and had fun together!

Q. How do you keep from tearing each other apart?

A. We are all very laid-back, adaptable people, so it takes a lot to upset us. On the rare occasion when we do get frustrated with each other, we make a point of quickly solving the problem, and not letting things build up. Generally, our only frustrations are rooted in misunderstandings, so we haven’t had any real reason for wanting to tear each other apart!

Q. Are you able to get “alone” time?

A. We have “quiet time” from 11:00 pm until 8:00 am, and we are able to get “alone” time in our small staterooms during these hours. Sometimes we work from our rooms (when we really need to focus, or have approaching deadlines), but more often we work together in the common room. We’re all “people” people, so luckily none of us require much alone time.

Q. What do you do to keep morale up?

A. We recognize each other’s accomplishments, and sometimes even give out medals for “achievement”, although most of these are meant as jokes. We also celebrate special occasions such as birthdays, holidays, good weather, the Phoenix launch, and the space shuttle launch! Finally, we all really love the research that we’re doing here, in this incredible, beautiful environment, so morale is already quite high for those reasons alone.

Q. When you are able to get “off” time what do you do?

A. During our off time we watch movies, play games, email loved ones at home, and play music.