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:

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

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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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Happy Birthday Mary!

Happy birthday to my sister Mary! We’re back to Scrabble cards.

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Sophie and I have been playing a lot of breakfast Scrabble recently. We’ve found that Sophie always picks a letter that gets her to go first, and generally wins, except when I had a surprise win with my friend Mary Cavanagh’s house-rule (Mary Cav, you know what it is…). Today I was on route to completely routing Sophie, when she managed to come in with the surprise win. Arrrgh! Nearly 400 points! We’ve also been playing without the Z, and we’re down an A. Zak’s 3D printing us some replacements, and then we’ll be up to a full set of tiles again.

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Earth Day on Mars*

Earth Day is a melding of my two favourite things: environmental sustainability, and space science. Our crew was asked to take part in the Earth Day celebrations happening in D.C. this year, and we are excited to be a part of it. On the surface, Mars exploration research doesn’t have a lot to do with planet Earth, but when you think about it more, life on Mars will be the ultimate challenge in sustainable living.

In our video, the crew shares how living in the HI-SEAS Mars simulation Dome has changed how we view energy, and water use, and how life on Mars can help life on Earth.

We also created an energy audit spreadsheet which you can download here: Earth Day Energy Audit Template to help you do your own energy audit on your own home, so you can cut down on your energy use.

And so with Earth Day coming up on April 22nd, and the festivities starting this weekend, I leave you with some words from Carl Sagan that sum up the beauty and fragility and amazingness of this planet that we call home:

From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest. But for us, it’s different. Consider again that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity – in all this vastness – there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known, so far, to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment, the Earth is where we make our stand. It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.

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We’re in the New Yorker!

We are in the April 20th copy of the New Yorker! It’s available online, but I can’t figure out how to get the link, so you’ll just have to look it up yourselves or buy a copy in the shops when it comes out in print in a week.

In other news, we failed to do anything for Yuri’s Night, because I was prepping some stuff for Earth Day.

And Neil’s birthday was on Thursday so we had one of our kind of traditional Thursday night parties of cake and darts and just being silly. He got some presents from the crew, including his own 3D printed set of Carcassonne pieces, 3D printed T-Rex shaving brush holder, and some Homestarrunner. Zak cooked dinner, I did a cake, it was a fun night.

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Good Friday Eclipse

Neil and I went out at 1:30am last Friday night to attempt to photograph the lunar eclipse. It was really cool just looking at it, but extremely difficult to photograph. The HAZMAT suits are difficult to see in, particularly at night, so focusing was tricky. We have a telescope here, but need more practice at using it for photography. Here’s the best of the photos that Neil took that night:

Lunar Eclipse_cropped

It was also Good Friday. Zak, Joce, Allen and I watched “Thank You For Smoking”, then Joce, Allen & I did mass. Then we still had hours and hours to wait before the eclipse, so we watched “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” to round off the night.

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A Bit More Driving Range Practice

Joce and I did a bit of sunset golf at the end of our last EVA. I got the white suit this time, and Joce the HAZMAT. I wish we had two white suits!

JoceGolf1 MarsGolf2

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Happy Birthday Big!

Happy 12th birthday to my nephew, Big Liam! I hope you’re having a good party this weekend!

Your gift from Aunt Mars on Mars*: we wrote your name in the lava rocks here, and took some photos. This way, in some way, you’re also up here on Mars*. The other symbol we wrote in the rocks is the Japanese symbol for “Big”, which is also your name 🙂

LiamSolar_Fotor_Collage1  LiamSolar_Fotor_Collage3

Lots of love from Dr. Mars!

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