NASA Employees Almost Mutinied Over Living On Mars Time

JPL Control Room

Having an extra 40 minutes in your day sounds awesome to some people, but after months of living on Mars time (their day is 40 minutes longer than our day here on Earth) NASA employees were on the brink of a Mutiny, Scientific American’s Katie Worth explains

In 1997, NASA sent the Pathfinder rover to Mars. The mission was supposed to last for seven days, but ended up lasting 85. After 30 days the staff mutinied. “I just remember getting to day 30 and thinking, ‘I can’t keep this up,'” NASA’s Joy Crisp told Worth.

The Spirit and Opportunity rover teams lasted a whole 90 days on Mars time, but were fed up by the end. When you think about it, 40 minutes doesn’t sound so bad, so what’s the big deal? Worth explains:

Harvard sleep scientist Steven Lockley says NASA simply doesn’t take human factors as seriously as it should, adopting our culture’s flippant “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” attitude about getting rest. To make matters worse, NASA’s ranks are filled, he says, with “highly motivated A types who think they can overcome anything—but that’s not true, because biology is there for everyone.”

Worth, a blogger for Scientific American, is embarking on a Mars experiment of her own — she’s planning to live on Mars time, and blog about it at her Scientific American blog Expedition. Follow her posts there, and read the rest of the news story at SciAm.

The NASA workers who run Curiosity rover were also on Mars time, but have since stopped. The family of one NASA employee, David Oh, followed along with his Mars time schedule and kept a blog about it.

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