Living on Martian Time Challenge recently heard the TEDx Talk below by NASA space engineer Nagin Cox, who, along with her teams and other teams, operated the rovers on Mars. Specifically, she focused on the logistics challenge of the Martian day that is 37 minutes longer than the Earth day, and what that meant. Because the rovers could not operate at night on Mars, to make the best use of its time there, NASA scientists and engineers had to work Martian night shifts, essentially, processing what the rovers sent back during Martian daylight while it rested during Martian nights, before giving the rovers new instructions for the next day. The challenges they faced, though, led me to want to try this as a challenge, and let others know about it in case they wanted to try themselves! I mean, seriously, how much closer are you ever going to get to living on Mars than this besides also moving to the polar ice caps for the same temperature simulation?


The 37 minute difference in between Earth and Mars days meant people living on Martian time would have to show up for work 40 minutes later each day, like moving a time zone, as Nagin said. Same thing for getting off work, eating, socializing, and everything else you do during the day. Then there’s the daylight exposure you have to go through where every 2.5 weeks or so, your Martian “day” happens during the Earth “night”. You need to control that, too, so your body doesn’t get confused with its Circadian rhythms to go back and forth between daylight during day and night, and getting daylight, at times, when it’s technically your night time. It could be a decent challenge overall, I thought, not just physically.

The details of living on Martian time in Nagin’s talk all spun my creative mind in a lot of ways, but the ultimate thing I landed on was that I’m going to have to try this some time! It ain’t Mars, but it’ll be as close to it as I will ever get to Mars! Besides, the real Martian life will probably be a lot less fun than anybody could imagine, except for some space scientists and engineers who would have a really good idea of all the logistical challenges to everyday life there.

As for the parameters of doing this, I would do it for a season’s length, or just a few more days than the 90 that Nagin and her fellow crews did during their shifts. If they got limited to that by NASA, that’s probably a healthy challenge limit to restrict myself to as well. I would start it November 1st, a week before we change the clocks back to minimize the amount of daylight I will have to shield from my “Martian world” when my Martian days don’t align with my Earthly ones. As someone with a full time job, I will have to do it in a year when I’m retired from working for Earthly firms, because I don’t even think my government flexible work arrangement can handle this demand! So until then, maybe all I will be able to do is go get my one analog watch fixed to see if it could be slowed just a tad to run on Martian time, 24 hour day Martian time, to be exact so a minute and a half slower per hour. I don’t know how reasonable that ask is but maybe I can try. I know Nagin said there are apps now to do this, but that’s not as fun as wearing a real analog Martian time watch and telling people who ask you for the time that you don’t know because your watch is set on Martian time. Story time! LOL

However, with the pandemic full on in many places around the world, maybe you can try living on Martian time now if you weren’t working, or had that much flexibility in your work hours, for a little challenge to pass your days at home! I’d bet you that if you documented it and told local media about it, you can probably get some media attention, too! Good luck if you try and let me know how it goes for when I will be able to try!


707 words

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