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
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