In any endeavor like ours, there will be attention from the press. Hell, we seek it. A major part of our mission is to get people to imagine, vividly, the exploration of Mars by human beings, and we’re eager to put up webcams, post blogs, and invite reporters into our lives, in the hopes that the exposure will turn minds towards that vision.
With this attention comes criticism – fair enough. How much do analog missions contribute to the goal of exploring Mars? To what extent do simulation conditions mirror those of a long term space mission? Aren’t unmanned missions to other planets just as productive as proposed manned missions, and much less risky? If not, why not? We’re asked these questions every day, and the answers are the subjects of intensive investigations, both here and at research institutions around the world.
What’s more difficult to deal with is ridicule. We’re wearing fake spacesuits and pretending to be on another planet – it’s not hard for a hack to make fun of that. Luckily, most of the journalists who spend time with us understand that we simply can’t answer the important questions about long duration space missions – what is tolerable? what isn’t? what works? what doesn’t? – without some of us looking like fools some of the time. I’m willing to sacrifice a bit of personal dignity to find the answers, but that does means laughing it off every now and then.
Oh, and my friends? You can mock me as much as you want - I'd feel neglected if you didn't!