> > > 8-month mission on "Mars": Battling against the clock!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Battling against the clock!

When envisioning life in a dome, my research ambition was inspired by the valuable data to collect and analyze from this experience, and a big part of me was excited for leaving distractions of the real world behind.  I looked forward to reading a long list of books and imagined these eight months of living in a dome as an intellectual and spiritual retreat.

We've reached the milestone of completing one month of the mission.  In this month, I can say I’ve read exactly one book, and it’s a short one, Franny and Zooey by JD Salinger. The battle for personal time that is fought in our great big worlds on Earth, still blazes from a tiny dome in Hawaii.

In daily surveys for the NASA study, we are asked if our day has gone by abnormally slow, fast, or just normal.  Thus far, I have repeatedly indicated that time is moving more quickly than normal.  I decided to investigate our hurried pace by outlining my schedule with some detail.  Now I can see why the days are flying by so quickly!  The schedule here is intense!  

We all have different responsibilities here in the dome in addition to lingering commitments to our lives back home.  Despite our numerous and varying tasks, as a crew, we all sync our schedules to do P90x workout each night, have dinner together, and often play a game or watch a show afterwards.  In dome life, I am free of social media distractions, but I’m probably more prone to the phenomenon of peer pressure.  

Last night provided the example that inspired this blog post.  I planned to do some coding for my analysis of our jawbone wristband data. That plan began to derail when we decided to watch an episode of the Firefly TV series while having dinner.  Prior to this, we had already declared that we will only watch Firefly when all crew members are present, so that no one misses out.  Are you seeing the pressure point?!  If I would have opted out, then no one would get to watch Firefly.  

After one episode, the crew applied some pressure for another, and even more pressure subsequently, until we watched four episodes of Firefly together!!  I definitely lost this battle.  Sorry research, forgive my gluttony, I promise to find extra time for you soon!  It is crucial that we keep a balance of team and individual goals.  If I choose my research all of the time, then our team dynamic will suffer.  But mission success will also degrade if I am not mindful of my personal responsibilities. 

Though the binge-watching felt sinful, I have to say I’m thankful that the crew has introduced me to the Firefly TV series and the concept of a “Space Western”.. yep, cowboys and space exploration!!  It took a couple episodes for me to warm up to the lead character in particular, but only because I saw him first as Captain Hammer, the annoying arch nemesis from Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog.  So far, my favorite episode is called Mrs. Reynolds, I was so surprised and delighted to see Joan from Mad Men as a sly space cowgirl, check it out!


  1. Hello! I have a question to ask. I would be interested in knowing about the foods you guys are enjoying. I know MRE's have improved over the years but I would think the foods being used there are different?

    Also, are you able to cook several days in advance in order to afford more suit time or are the foods packaged in single servings?

    Have you noticed your team mates gravitating towards a certain style of food? Or do you discuss the weeks menu in advance?

    Love your blog. Safe diving!

  2. oh Firefly...how i've missed you and your witty humor...the saddest day in television was the day they cancelled you.