Yesterday, for the first time in my entire life, I did a pull-up! Yessssss! Thanks Tony!

This was one of my personal goals coming in here, so I’m glad to have accomplished it before the end of the mission. Other personal goals had been learning the ukelele, improving my French, and finishing off an insane knitting project. Of those three, I think the knitting is the only one really close to being accomplished. I can play a few chords on the ukelele, but not a whole song without the sheet music, and not well enough to stick to a beat. Sigh.

But I can do a pull-up!

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It’s the Final Countdown!

Three weeks left, and I need to start sending you more updates, because a lot is going on.

When Joce put up her “final countdown” post on her blog, I knew it was ok to start sharing the exciting news. For our re-entry back to Earth, we’re going to be going skydiving with the US Army’s Golden Knights parachute team, and our 7th crew member, Tony Horton of the P90X fitness videos, is coming along for the jump!


Don’t smash your face! Thanks for the advice Tony!

In other news: Joce has a pretty involved Twitter campaign up and running. I’m not on Twitter, and can’t see the internet even if I did, but you should check it out. There are prizes that could be won, and other fun stuff. Challenges this week:

– What fun or useful thing should Zak next print on Mars* with his 3D printer? We only have one suggestion so far, so other ideas are most welcome! Comment either here or on Twitter.

– We’re going to have an eating contest this Saturday. We don’t have hotdogs here, so we’re doing rice noodles/ramen instead. Vote on who you think will win!

The news story of the day: We’re in VICE magazine! Check it out here:

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My Pleasantly Messy Office

I’m not often the last person up at night, but I was last week when I was working on the geology task one night. I took a look at my (notoriously messy) desk, and rather liked the spread of projects that could be seen on it:

Screenshot 2015-05-12 08.35.26

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Martian Reading List So Far

I came in with a large number of books that I wanted to read while I was in here – stuff that I just hadn’t had time to get to in the outside world that I thought I’d have plenty of time to finish in here. To be honest, I’ve been so busy that it’s been really hard to find time to read. I generally read in bed, but often I’m so tired I just pass out as soon as my head hits the pillow.

That said, I had a great sense of accomplishment and satisfaction when I finished “Seven Pillars of Wisdom” by T. E. Lawrence on Sunday. The last couple of chapters or parts were enthralling, with the Arab and British in their final push for Damascus, and Lawrence’s reflections on what his part in all this had been, and what leadership means, and why he even did any of it. Fascinating stuff. It was not an easy read, but extremely well written, and has me burning with desire to see Petra and Rumm and other places he described so magically in the book. A lot if it sounded absolutely horrendous as well, but other bits were amazing.

The other big book I read while here was “Shantaram”. It’s fiction, about a guy who escapes jail in Australia and is living as a fugitive in India, and it’s written by a guy who escaped jail in Australia and lived on the run in India… so yeah, fiction. But we can only write about what we know, right? It wasn’t super high quality writing, but was extremely interesting for all that and made me want to go to India and just hang out in Mumbai for a while. India was never super high on my travel list, but now it is.

Other than those two books, I haven’t done a lot of reading. A book of short stories by Neil Gaiman; bits and pieces of Le Petit Prince and Out of Africa; and one of the Harry Potter books when I was in the mood for that. I started “August 1914”, but haven’t been in the mood for Russian literature I guess, even though I liked the bit at the beginning where one of the characters takes a break in his journey to see if he can meet Tolstoy at his estate, and does, and has a meaning-of-life conversation with him.

Next up is “The Martian”, by Andy Weir, because everyone keeps asking what I thought of it, and honestly I haven’t read it yet. And there’s a movie version of if coming out sometime before Christmas, and I guess everyone who’s Mars crazy has read it, so I need to get on that. But I didn’t have it readily available last night so got distracted by a book on early Puritans settling in America by Sarah Vowel. It’s looking to be an easy read though, so I should be on to the Martian soon enough.

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Less Than 6 Weeks To Go, and an Article in German

Hello all! It’s been a while. We had a news article come out in German, so in case you can read German here it is:

We’ve been busy here finishing up all the research that we want to get done by the end of the mission. I’ve been working on an article for the garden, and want to start one about all the outreach we’ve been doing as well. We also have an outreach project that we haven’t even started yet, so I’m going to be helping Sophie out with that over the next couple of weeks.

Also, the last geology task we were given was a “make your own geology task” challenge. Joce and I stepped up to that big time to try and make it as science-y as possible. It may not work, but we’re having fun trying.

I don’t have much else that’s exciting to share, so I’ll just finish off with some photos of some of the research stuff going on. Terrible photo of us calibrating our light sensors off the solar panels outside:

2015-04-27 13.18.28

And here’s another terrible photo of the sensors installed in the garden:

2015-04-30 00.05.19

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So Much News!

Yesterday was a big day for our articles and interviews coming out. The one I’m most excited about was a BBC Radio 4 piece that I did. Check it out here:

You can here me and Carl Sagan about 8 minutes in to the program.

The most exciting thing for Joce yesterday was that her Martian* golf swing made it on to Sports Center as the Top Golf Swing! A friend of hers sent a cell phone video of the bit of her on Sports Center. It was pretty entertaining. If anyone else can find a copy of it, that would be amazing.

We were also in a article that came out yesterday, and Joce was in Golf Digest magazine.

And I don’t know how to find the Golf Digest one. Again, any help would be amazing.


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Live Like You’re On Mars* For Earth Day

Our Earth Day video has now gone live in Washington D.C. You can check it out through their events at this site:

At the end of the video, the crew challenges you to live like you’re on Mars* for the day. Try cutting down on your water & energy use, using re-usable products, and doing an energy audit on your home or office to understand how you are using energy in your every day life.

Happy Earth Day everyone!

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