Little milestones mark the progress of any journey. We note the events that happen, the dates on a calender, the mile markers on a highway.
Today is the 90th day my crew and I have lived inside the HI-SEAS habitat module on Mauna Loa. The last 3 months have been a remarkable experience. We’ve lived as astronauts would on Mars, adapting to procedures and habits that future explorers will have to survive the conditions that exist on the 4th planet.
In the time I’ve been in this simulation, I’ve marked the time by the completion of experiments, the addition of new tasks, the daily log entries I make as the mission commander. At home, I might gauge increments of time based on the days until the weekend, but here on simulated Mars, the weekend is another workday. In order to maintain the ongoing science and systems, the crew and I must continue rationing food, water, and power in the habitat. Data is still recorded and analyzed- even if it is Saturday.
In just less than 30 days, the crew and I will exit the habitat module for the last time, and without the limitation of a simulated spacesuit. This journey will end, and in it’s place, each of us will move forward with our lives and ambitions. The passage of time will be unchanging, but the milestones we mark it by will be unique. I don’t know yet what direction my journey will take. But I hope that it can be measured by achievement the way I have during this mission.