Sunday on sMars

This morning I woke up with a wave of determination after more than a week of feeling like I had not accomplished anything. We’ve been working on the geology task nearly constantly which has left little time for anything else. Sure, we technically do things all day long, but it is easy to have the day pass by and be left with a list of things you wanted to accomplish. Last night we finally finished up the geology task, and then, while everyone else stayed up to watch a movie, I went to bed, still later than I would desire.

In the dome, we don’t really get weekends, every day is just another day of research tasks, cooking, cleaning, and just things that come up. My favorite thing about weekends at home with my family is the amount of stuff you can get done if you wake up at a reasonable hour. It is not uncommon for my dad to get four hours of sleep and then rise with the birds and get more done before breakfast than a lot of people will do in a whole day. There are an endless number of construction projects at home, and my parents are the supreme rulers in making or building anything you could think of. Seriously, they make everything!

Photo 1
Chester guarding the back deck during a long summer day 2015

This morning also had a strangely Montana feel to it. While I unzipped the airlock to grab some food for breakfast, there was a cool breeze and something about the dome smelled just like home. If I closed my eyes, I felt like I was standing on our back parch and there was a crisp spring breeze blowing needles and snow out of the trees. So, I decided to roll with it and with our recent resupply of assorted lumber, I knew exactly what my project for the morning would be… building a table for the plants that live under the stairs.

After installing the ISS lights several weeks ago, we made a makeshift table out of TV tray tables and some excess plywood. This worked pretty well but would not last forever as we needed the tables for one of our research tasks. So, mission one… make a table. Challenge one, have it fit I the tiny space under the stairs and not make it a permanent feature of the dome. Challenge accepted.

Photo 2

Challenge Two came when it was 8 am, I was feeling super motivated, but 4/6 of the crew was fast asleep. I didn’t want to wake them, so I had my trusty early-rising Montanan lock me in the SeaCan to noise proof the construction. With an evil laugh, he locked the latches and went back to working on his thesis. While I halfway trusted that I would re-emerge from the SeaCan someday, I wasn’t entirely sure if it would be before my two cups of tea would set in. Tristan is a very focused worker with noise proof headphones, and while that is probably really nice for him he also misses a lot of things that happen in the dome. Most of these things are probably nice to miss… people running up and down the stairs, pots and pans falling, treadmill thumping. Sometimes it is something like us making “surprise” mint chocolate chip ice cream for his birthday which needed to be blended three times and all of the crew was talking about it in a normal speaking voice. Needless to say, no matter how much banging I tried, there was a good chance that I wasn’t going to emerge unless he decided to open the door. The SeaCan is definitely sound proof.

Photo 3
From the back of the SeaCan looking towards the airlock. You can see the ‘shop’ on the left and the food/space suits on the right side

We recently received a Sawzall in the resupply, and while I love power tools, I decided that cutting each piece with a handsaw would be more meaningful and give me a better workout. I should mention that the SeaCan also doubles as our ‘shop’ and bulk food storage. Half of the container is filled with shelves of food and MX-C space suits, and the other half houses our batteries, the water pump, and the shop workbench. In the middle is a small aisle about 2.5’ wide.

During the last EVA, the team brought in a bunch of 2x4s that were left outside in the last resupply. These were all waiting for me in the SeaCan along with all of our tools and a morning’s worth of snacks. Our main IT guy has been super awesome at providing us with as many podcasts as we could dream, so for the Sunday project tunes… CarTalk. I am instantly teleported back to my parent’s garage with the stereo blasting so that my parents can hear the show no matter how far they travel from the garage.

The actual construction of the table is less exciting than the finished product. I made a 6’x2’ frame and then attached the legs. Remembering that part of the challenge was to get it to fit into the space under the stairs while not making it a permanent feature, I went for legs that could fold in like the plastic tables you would get at Costco. Luckily I was able to scrounge up some spare hex bolts, and with some quick shaping, I had movable legs.

Photo 4
Close up view of the leg attachments
Photo 5
Side view of the legs

Shortly before finishing I was released from the ‘SeaCan of Construction’, and while no one had emerged from their rooms yet, the morning was nearly over and it was a suitable hour to be making noise. After a quick bathroom break and checking the emails, I was ready to put the table under the stairs. Part of the fun came when we found that we had made the wooden equivalent of parallel bars and took a detour to do some ab exercises… ok, too much fun, time to get back to work!

After clearing off the old table of the assorted growing things, we guided the folded up frame into place. 3…2…1…deploy legs, scoot out from between the wall, lock into place, add the plywood top, and voilá! a brand new piece of the dome home. We added some of the growing things back, which right now are cyanobacteria (http://walking-on-red-dust.com/2015/09/05/green-bacteria-on-red-planet-2/) and assorted plants including an amaryllis from Montana and the starts of the next ‘surprise’ Martian bulbs.

Photo 6
Final product in use.

Not bad for a Sunday morning.

Goldilocks and the Three Planets

The recent NASA confirmations of liquid water on Mars and the cause of a stripping atmosphere on Mars have brought a lot of attention to Mars. Since we are on simulated Mars, we have gotten a lot of questions regarding our reaction to the news.

There are three planets in the habitable zone of our Sun: Venus, Earth, and Mars. Venus is wicked close to the Sun and does not have an internal magnetic field because of its really slow rotation. So it is very hot and has a very dense atmosphere that is made up mostly of CO2, and is dramatically affected by solar winds.

Venus
An artist’s impression of how solar winds are affected by Venus’ (top) and Earth’s (lower) magnetic fields. Source: ESA

Mars isn’t that much further away from the Sun than Earth. It is at the edge of the habitable zone. It could be habitable, but it isn’t, because of its atmospheric loss cause by the Sun. The Sun can only get away with this because Mars doesn’t have an internal magnetic field. Mars has many hundreds of very small magnetic fields (indicating prior plate tectonics), but none of them have the effect of Earth’s large one magnetic field.

mars_magnetic (1) 00_00_00-00_00_28
The crustal magnetic fields of Mars measured by the Mars Global Surveyor. Red indicates positive magnetic fields and blue denote negative magnetic fields. Source: NOAA
The Van Allen Belt layer of energetic charged particles is held in place around the Earth by the our magnetic field. Source: Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
The Van Allen Belt layer of energetic charged particles is held in place around the Earth by our magnetic field. Source: Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

Mars lacks the one major requirement that we understand for an internal magnetic field… the spinning magnetic core (dynamo) that converts the kinetic energy of the fluid core into electrical and magnetic field energy. Mars is believed to have had a dynamo that died – stopping spinning, cooled off – hundreds of millions of years ago. Prior to that, it may have been much more Earth-like (atmosphere, water, temperature) because it was protected from solar stripping. As an aside, all of the large gas giants also have spinning cores, and by virtue of that are able to keep their atmospheres. The important point is that because Mars’ dynamo died, all the factors that we associate with life and habitability have gone away as well.

Speaking of life, last winter, NASA confirmed that the Curiosity rover found a localized source of methane on Mars. This is super cool because methane is created either biogenically or geothermally- meaning that either life created it or it was created in a place that could possibly support life. The short rate of decay of methane also tells us that it was formed recently rather than being an ancient artifact. So…life on Mars? Possibly.

A couple weeks ago, things got even more exciting as NASA confirmed the suspicions of liquid water with HiRISE photos. Those photos indicate that water ice under the surface of Mars melts and flows downhill. This is super cool. Water is life! If you want to read about our crewmate Andrzej taking photos of it back in 2011 check out his blog post: https://hiseasandrzej.wordpress.com/2015/10/02/mro-and-water-on-mars/.

So, there is water on Mars – liquid water – and it isn’t all frozen in the ice caps as previously thought.

wateronmars
Subsurface flows on the slopes of Newton Crater, imaged by HiRISE. Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

So, does life exist on Mars? We don’t know yet, but this is a great moment to remember why studying Mars and planetary science in general is so important: it teaches us about our own world. We are so fortunate that we still have a spinning dynamo, and that we have not have been blown off the face of the planet with a vortex of solar wind. Looking backward in time, without the dynamo, life would never have been able to evolve in the first place. Looking forward, Mars and Venus are a window into our own possible future if we are not cautious about what we do while we are here. We live in the same vicinity of space, are about the same size, and have the exact same sun. We are one wrong step away from turning into a planet that is either way to hot or way too cold, so we need to be conscience of our habitat and protect this planet while we are here.

The Three B’s of Dome Privacy

Most of the time the dome is a bustling epicenter of voices, trotting footsteps, pots clanging, treadmill pounding, chairs rolling, and research buzzing. Only occasionally is it quiet, usually when everyone is sleeping or when four members are out on EVA. I’ve had never noticed how much noise some people make until we were locked in and you get to hear everything, I mean everything, that happens. Every conversation carries from downstairs into the bedrooms, footsteps on the stairs shake the entire building, even playing a card game becomes an entire dome experience. In some ways this is great as you always have someone to talk to, play a game, or watch a movie. Other times when you have read the same sentence three times or are actually trying to concentrate, it can be very distracting.

The SeaCan stores most of our food and also serves as a workshop
The SeaCan stores most of our food and also serves as a workshop

There are plenty of spaces in the dome that you can try to find solitude like the SeaCan or teleporter. The SeaCan offers a tiny bit of sound proofing but if anyone needs to do some construction or get food for a meal, you will be disturbed. The teleporter is the brightest spot in the hab and is slowly being taken over by a tropical oasis of vegetable experiments (pictures to come later). It is the perfect spot for catching up on emails do one of the research tasks; however if anyone wants to do laundry or work on one of the cultured foods that we are absolutely in no way growing in the warmth of the telemetry room, they will have to walk over or around you.

So, I have scouted the best places for peace and quiet and here are the top three choices:

The Bio Lab has one of the two porthole windows and provides natural light for some of the growing plants. The rest of the plants are growing with Orbitec and Heliac grow lights.
The Bio Lab has one of the two porthole windows and provides natural light for some of the growing plants. The rest of the plants are growing with the help of grow lights.

3. Bio Lab

The bio lab is so wonderfully fantastic because it has a door that closes. There is enough floor space to do a solo bout of P90X, lots of natural from the porthole window, warming grow lights for the plants, and it is also one of the warmest rooms in the building. The Bio Lab is Dusty’s main domain where he cultures his cyanobacteria, prepares samples, and grows plants. Cookies weighs a lot of rocks, and I also check in on my seedling vegetables. Every morning I turn on the grow lights when I get up to make the most use of the sunlight, and we turn them off when we stop generating power for the day. The way that everyone interacts with the lab is with the pull-up bar in the doorway. The rule is that to use the downstairs bathroom, you have to do as many pull-ups as you can on your way out. The jawbones tell us to drink eight glasses of water a day, so we end up doing a lot of pull-ups.

The upstairs bathroom
The upstairs bathroom… if you are too tall, your head touches the ceiling when you are on the can.

2. Bathroom

The bathrooms are actually super rad. Each has a composting toilet, and while they were severely overdue for some maintenance upon arrival, we think that we are finally on top of how to properly maintain them. The smell is starting to not completely knock you out when you go in anymore. These toilets don’t use any water, which dramatically cuts down on the amount of water we consume every day. I’ll write a post later about our most recent water and energy conservation efforts.

So, how much time do you really spend in the bathroom? Not much, which is why this is not at the top of the list. We only use the bathrooms to do our business and take showers, so it is a very small portion of our day. It is quite a treat to have your biweekly shower (especially if someone has already warmed up the water) and enjoy a few minutes of trickling water noises. If you use your imagination, you can even pretend that you are standing under a waterfall… if you are also pretending that there is a greater flow of water.

Slide4
Montana pride
  1. Bedroom

The best place for peace and quiet is definitely your own bedroom. All of my favorite places in the dome have ample lighting… the teleporter, the airlock, bio lab, and my room where I have put up some grow lights to help start my garden. By now, everyone has done their best effort at making their room home, and of course, mine has a few pieces of Montana with me (flag, garden, glow in the dark constellations). If you put a blanket over the floor vent, you can pretty successfully block out most noises and fall asleep in a blink. While we all have our own desks downstairs, it can be pretty distracting to have lots of conversations going on around you, so if you need to really focus, working in your room is the best option… unless everyone is working in their room and you have the entire dome to yourself (muah hah hah hah).

Growing a salad: Lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, peas, beans, and herbs in different hydroponic systems
Growing a salad: Lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, peas, beans, and herbs in different hydroponic systems

So, that is a peak at my favorite hiding spots. Next up… water conservation

Why Everyone Should Live in a Dome for a Year

This is just a cool because the A’aaaaahh is wicked sweet. Lava rock is pokey frolicking fun. As long as you don’t fall on it.
This is just cool because the A’aaaaahh is wicked sweet. Lava rock is pokey frolicking fun. As long as you don’t fall on it.

We are now one month into our year-long mission, but it’s already easy to see how different this year will be from our normal lives. Everyone always asks what we will miss the most, and that isn’t an easy answer. Whenever you travel, you’ll find you miss things from home, but you become accustomed to your surroundings and find that you enjoy what’s around you rather than pining for what isn’t. What I will miss the most is being with my family and friends…being able to go running in the crisp Montana air…seeing my nephew grow older and smarter every day. I don’t miss eating out in restaurants because most of us are fantastic cooks. I don’t miss driving in traffic (yes, Montana does have traffic sometimes) or having to choose what kind of toothpaste to buy at the store.

Instead I get to think about what kind of bread we want to make for the day, what research tasks we have, and what kind of exercise I want to do. This happens in the backcountry too; you spend so much time just surviving, making food, and completing your research, that you don’t have time to miss any front country privileges. How do you survive on limited resources and why should everyone live in a dome for a year? Because resource conservation is something that needs to happen back on Earth, now!

Even cleaning the toilet takes longer on sMars… composting toilets use less water, but they require considerable maintenance every three weeks. Photo by Dr. Christiane Heinicke
Even cleaning the toilet takes longer on sMars… composting toilets use less water, but they require considerable maintenance every three weeks. Photo by Dr. Christiane Heinicke

Time

Time is everything. We all have the same 24 hours each day. Unfortunately we don’t have the extra 37 minutes we would actually have on Mars (I’d be happy with an extra 12 hours in every day). From the moment you wake up until you go to bed, you try to cram as many things into the day as you can, like cooking, cleaning, HI-SEAS research projects, personal research, correspondence, or exercising. The catch is that nearly everything takes longer in isolation than it does at home so you become accustomed to a slower pace. To cook, you have to rehydrate most of your ingredients beforehand. Yes, adding water to dry ingredients doesn’t sound hard, but to do this for everything (milk, eggs, cheese, fruit, vegetables, and meat), you end up with a lot of pots of boiling water and many more dishes than if ingredients came pre-hydrated. To get an answer to any question, you have to wait a minimum of 40 minutes for an answer, and it might not be the information you need so there goes another hour. To go outside, you have to put on a space suit which takes an hour on either end of your intended EVA. If you want clean clothes, you need to plan several days in advance. But hey, this is what real astronauts will have to deal with so it’s all part of the adventure. Everything about our lives takes time, and managing that time is hard… even on Earth.

From sink and shower to laundry and floor
From sink and shower to laundry and floor

Water

The other day we were expecting our first water resupply. This is when the kind water robots bring us a tank full of water because we don’t have the fancy $250 million pee-to-drinking water converter that is on the ISS. A real mission to Mars would have the fancy machine which would mean needing to conserve water in every way possible, therefore we also conserver water every way we can. On the eve before our resupply, we needed to burn down the tank so that we could have a full top up in the morning. I filled up all the aquaponics tanks and then we all took showers trying to get as close to our target as possible without overdrawing. As I stood in the shower, I realized that for the first time in three weeks I didn’t need to turn off the water while I soaped up. I realized this after I had already turned off the water, hammering home that water conservation had indeed become a habit. I’m sure that as my mom is reading this she will wish she had sent me off to a dome long before my years of taking long hot showers in high school.

We also collect water from the shower and hand washing to reuse for laundry which is then used for mopping floors. Any method of water conservation or recycling is always worth testing out. We wash dishes but leave the suds on because Americans have a weird occupation with washing off the suds. Water that is used for rehydrating food is then reused as broth in tomorrow’s soup. Water is the most precious of resources… our lives cannot exist without it.

If every day could be a beautiful sunny day I would run a lot more
If every day could be a beautiful sunny day I would run a lot more

Energy

Maintaining enough power to the hab is crucial to our survival. We monitor our energy production and consumption neurotically, ensuring that cooking and exercising is done during peak production hours, and if we stop generating, we start switching off non-essential things like plant lights and waver strips. If we run out of solar, then we have a backup system of hydrogen, but that is really a last resort. If we have a cloudy day and don’t get to full charge (which happens quite a bit being on the side of a volcano), we chose a video workout over the treadmill. Soon we will have a power generating bicycle (the pedal-ator) to help fulfill both our exercise requirements and power generation limitations.

If you start with a limited amount of energy, how do you conserve to get by? Simple, use power when you are generating, discharge when you aren’t (I’ve Got the Power!). I am guilty of having left my phone charger plugged in for the entire duration of owning a phone prior to coming into the dome… vampires fed on the energy from my charger. I can hear my mom asking “Do you need this light on, can we turn this light off also?” So, what do I nag the crew about? Turn the lights off when you aren’t in a room. Turn off the waver strips when you go to bed. If you aren’t using the microwave, unplug it or turn off the strip. Not using your laptop… put it to sleep. Use the ultra-conservative ISS lights instead of less efficient lights. I may not be the Dr. Mom, but I am the energy and water conservation Mom.

The comforts of dome home
The comforts of dome home

Space

We live in a dome that has 878 ft2 of usable space, and with six residents that puts us at roughly twice the population density of Mumbai, India. Granted, with only six of us it doesn’t feel incredibly dense, but there are a limited number of places to go. The kitchen is used for cooking, bucket laundry, and an extra lap when exercising. The dining room doubles as the research table on days we have computer tasks. The common space is an office, gym, garden, and dance floor. It’s like living in a tiny basement apartment in college and never getting to leave, but with windows for both safety and sanity. And if you decide to hide out by yourself in your incredibly small room for some quiet time, that’s okay too.

How much space do you really need? I’d say that we have plenty. We each have the personal space of our bedrooms, and there is always something to do in the lab, workshop, kitchen, or common area. In a couple moments of reflection, did I really need all the stuff that I hauled around for years? Not remotely! Anyone who has traveled for an extended time will agree that one backpack of stuff is more that you need for any amount of time. Sure, you might occasionally wish that you had something new, but most of the time you’ll be kicking yourself for taking too much. I’ve already found that I don’t wear half the clothes I brought and wish I could just send them back to Earth. Either way, stuff is just stuff, and if it has more than one purpose, then it will be more functional than single purpose items.

Homemade Chicken marsala.There may have been words spoken that someone (cough cough Shey) would have paid real money in a real restaurant for this meal. Not bad for freeze dried ingredients. Photo by Tristan Bassingthwaighte
Homemade Chicken marsala.There may have been words spoken that someone (cough cough Shey) would have paid real money in a real restaurant for this meal. Not bad for freeze dried ingredients. Photo by Tristan Bassingthwaighte

Food

Just to clarify, we don’t have cheese powder. To whoever said that we live on tuna and cheese powder… we have freeze dried cheese that rehydrates into delicious real cheese. Not to mention our numerous homemade cheese and yogurt cultures (Haans, Phil, Geno) and sourdough starter (Bob). Yes, we have tuna, but it’s wild caught and comes in virgin olive oil. We also have FD chicken (my favorite!), ham, turkey, and many kinds of beef. There is an abundant supply of dehydrated/FD carrots, onions, tomatoes, peas, corn, celery, potato, berries, peaches (mine, mine, mine, mine), bananas, apples, and cherries. We eat the same foods as people who cook their meals and don’t eat takeout… so the same as before I went into the dome. Our food supply comes in every two months for resupply which means we have to carefully plan how we prepare meals and ration. No one wants to be known as the person that used the last of a resource long before a resupply. With the holiday season occurring right after our next resupply, it’s safe to say that I will be donning the Willy Wonka hat and making magical sugary creations in the kitchen. Pro tip on keeping a happy crew… Feed them tasty yummies!

Above all, living in the dome forces you to enjoy a slower pace of life, conserve resources, and find happiness in the simple things. Who wouldn’t want to give that a go?

Mauna Kea behind the lav-A’aaaaahhhhh. This landscape is remarkable.
Mauna Kea behind the lav-A’aaaaahhhhh. This landscape is remarkable.

10 steps to surviving on sMars

I write a lot every single day through email to Mission Support, daily reports, research projects, and surveys. None of these are a blog. So, I’ve finally spent three weeks in the dome and I’ve come up with a definitive list of the top ten ways to survive in the dome.

  1. Stay in Compliance

It’s good to keep the researchers happy. Keeping up with the daily surveys and research assignments is the easiest way to stay out of trouble and prevent extra emails from coming to your inbox.

Andrzej and Shey use an Oculus headset to perform one of our mission research tasks
Andrzej and Shey use an Oculus headset to perform one of our mission research tasks
  1. Cook Tasty Foods

The only difference between cooking on Mars and Earth is that we have to rehydrate most of the ingredients before we use them. So far, we have had some pretty Earth-like creations: quesadillas, French toast, soup, PB&J sandwiches, quiche, quinoa salad, macaroni and cheese, spaghetti, shepherd’s pie… very normal foods. We also started growing tasty yummy crunchy green things (veggies) that should be ready for harvest in a couple weeks. ‘Bob’ the sourdough starter provides us with a daily loaf of bread, and ‘Phil’ the cheese allows us to have fresh, non-rehydrated cheese. See the Cooking on Mars tab for the recipes that I cook with  in the dome.

My first assigned cooking day resulted in spinach and mushroom quiche with a quinoa salad. The quiche artwork is the dome and SeaCan created by Tristan
My first assigned cooking day resulted in spinach and mushroom quiche with a quinoa salad. The quiche artwork is the dome and SeaCan created by Tristan
  1. Get Exercise

We have all been outfitted with handy dandy Jawbone® fitness trackers, which has made for lots of friendly competition to see who can get the most steps in a day, the lowest resting HR, or most glasses of water drunk in a day. There is no shortage of exercise activities to do either. We have a treadmill, a stationary bike, and the complete series of every P90X and Insanity workout. What happens if you eat too many cookies in a day? The doctor will order you to do ‘punishment’ situps or extra time on the bike. One running joke is that the crew has nothing to fear but Carmel on abs day… which is every day.

Andrzej gets his workout on in the common space of the dome. We don’t have any free weights, so the deep cycle marine batteries for our aquaponics system serve a second purpose.
Andrzej gets his workout on in the common space of the dome. We don’t have any free weights, so the deep cycle marine batteries for our aquaponics system serve a second purpose.
  1. Learn a New Skill (or Several)

When you enter a dome with five other nerds, you are guaranteed to find someone who knows something you don’t know. I am learning the ukulele (though all I know is Happy Birthday so far) and the girls have forced  the boys to partake in salsa dancing. Thank you to the selection committee for having an even spit crew! There will be jitterbug, swing dancing, country line dancing, waltz before the end. We are also learning things like Russian, French, Morse Code, harmonica and drawing.

Cyprien practices the ukulele
Cyprien practices the ukulele
  1. Get Lots of Sunlight

Getting sunshine is not as difficult as you might think. There are plenty of opportunities…

  • Go out on EVA where you get a face full of sunshine through the face shield of your space suit
  • Sit in front of one of the port hole windows… they may be small, but they give you a glimpse to the outside world
  • Sit in the bright sunny spot of the airlock… it may only be one foot wide, but it yields 50-300 ppfd on a bright sunny day
  • Use one of the handy dandy LightBook lights that give you full spectrum light from a little notebook.
Christiane is very happy to be outside on a beautiful sunny day. Most days have been foggy or cloudy so far, so getting a clear view is fortunate
Christiane is very happy to be outside on a beautiful sunny day. Most days have been foggy or cloudy so far, so getting a clear view is fortunate
  1. Correspond with Family and Friends

They are your connection to the outside world and hopefully they send you lots of photos of all the things you love doing outside, your pets, and your family doing awesome things (hint: Mom, I want more photos of Chester and Cash).

My mom says in a Jacques Cousteau voice “The tiger tabby of the Montana jungle often scratches the water source to remove debris”
My mom says in a Jacques Cousteau voice “The tiger tabby of the Montana jungle often scratches the water source to remove debris”
  1. Enjoy Quiet Time

I have never in my life been considered a morning person. I can get up in the mornings and be a generally pleasant person to be around, but I didn’t consider it my favorite time of day. Now, the early morning (5-7am) is my favorite time of day because usually no one else is awake. It is very rare to have complete silence in such a small space. The walls are thin, the floor is loud, and you can hear nearly everything that goes on in any part of the hab. It reminds me of every year living in a basement in college, no matter how quiet someone tries to be, it sounds like elephants taking dancing lessons.

Shey enjoys the quiet of her bedroom to do some studying before joining the rest of the crew in the morning
Shey enjoys the quiet of her bedroom to do some studying before joining the rest of the crew in the morning
  1. Do Science!

This is why we are here! To be test subjects and to do some of our own science. Stay tuned for a look at our individual experiments/ projects.

With the help of my fellow Montanan, we started seeds for our aquaponics system and for fun tasty vegetables for the crew to eat.
With the help of my fellow Montanan, we started seeds for our aquaponics system and for fun tasty vegetables for the crew to eat.
  1. Plan Your Post Dome Adventures

Being in the dome is rad but the real world is calling when I get out, so adventure time will need to be planned carefully. There aren’t too many things that you can  miss in the dome other than your family, friends, and the outdoors. After spending the entire summer frolicking in Glacier Park and never quite getting a fill of outdoor adventure, one thing I miss is being on top of the highest mountain around. The space suits are not very conducive to long treks, so the miles will only start adding up after August 27th, 2016.

Montana's highest peaks are calling my name when I get out of the dome
Montana’s highest peaks are calling my name when I get out of the dome
  1. Enjoy that you are in the dome!

People think that being in the dome is ‘isolating’, which is totally true, but it can be isolating in a pretty awesome way. We have the ability to shut out all the distractions of modern society… no social media, no news streaming, nothing that doesn’t come through a 20 minute delay. You can shut out the outside world and just focus on your tasks at hand. We have certain research tasks for the project that we have to do at specific times, but the rest of our time is however we want to fill it. We get to cook everything from scratch, wake and go to bed with the sun, and write emails instead of texting or talking on the phone. Life is a bit slower paced, but time goes so quickly. We are six over achieving nerds living in a dome… it is all data!

A sunrise on ‘Mars’ looking at Mauna Kea
A sunrise on ‘Mars’ looking at Mauna Kea