Friday, June 22, 2007


Yesterday was summer solstice which, below the Arctic Circle, is the longest day of the year. Here, we're in the middle of a four-month long day, so let's just call it "noon". We celebrated by leaving the window-shades off all night long, so that we could feel the full effect of the bright, bright midnight sun.

It's a transition period in many ways. Although there are still patches and occasional deep drifts of snow, there is now more brown than white in the landscape, and starting Monday, we're taking ATVs rather than snowmobiles to our sites. Our science is changing, too, from projects that were focussed on the snow and the permafrost to those that are interested in the now-uncovered rocks and the crater itself.

We're also embarking on a unique experiment: Mars time. The Martian day (or 'sol') is about 40 minutes longer than an Earth day. For the month of July, we'll be working on Mars time, so will gradually drift out of synch with all you Earthlings. Each sol, we will take several cognitive tests and keep a sleep diary, so that any physiological or psychological disruption can be detected. Because we have fairly constant daylight (clouds passing over the sun cause more light variation than the time of day), we don't have any natural cues to tell us what time it is, so any discombobulation we feel will be due to the shift itself. I expect we will feel better, if anything, thanks to the 'extra' 40 minutes in our daily schedule, but it's an important question to answer before we send astronauts to Mars to cope with it for real.

Here's the view from the hab at 10pm on the night of June 21st:


Lora said...

So, what's the deal with the European Space Agency looking for 12 volunteers to be on a simulated mission to Mars? Just read about that this a.m. in The Advertiser.

"They will make a simulated mission to Mars that will last up to 520 days in 'extreme isolation and confinement'. Is this a new trend or something?

Aren't they aware of what you're doing????

Kim Binsted said...

They're aware of us. The two missions have different emphases, though. Ours is about being on the surface of Mars, and trying to get science done there; theirs is primarily about the trip there and back. Also, their crew are guinea pigs to an even greater extent than we are. We have our own research projects we're working on while we're here; they will be subjects and nothing else. Oh, and they're doing for almost two years, and really really won't have any booze. They do have a sauna, though.

Canadians are allowed to apply, but I think this is a bit too far. See, I do have limits!!

Kim Binsted said...

Check this out:

It was filmed here. Her outfits are cuter than ours.

Jen said...


Do you remember the time I stalked that guy in the Foodland? The one who had one bag of ice and one gigantic bag of white rice? I asked him if he was hosting the world's most boring party?

I saw him again!

He caught me stalking him and recognized me. This time he just gave up and we shopped together.

Weird Guy's Cart:

1. 1 pack frozen Taquitos
2. 1 box frozen peas
3. 5 Hungry Man frozen dinners (heavy on the fried chicken)
4. 1 loaf of white bread
5. 1 carton of iced tea
6. 2 Snickers

I cannot figure this guy out. I may have to marry him.

Tim said...

Kim, why is Bubble from AbFab wearing a space suit in the video? And how did she get to fake Mars?