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Health and Sanity

Valentina Nicolae
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piqer: Valentina Nicolae
Saturday, 24 November 2018

Playing House On “Mars”

The Habitat is the story of a group of six people who volunteer to spend a year in confinement, on a mission simulating life on Mars. “Mars” is a dome in an isolated location in Hawaii, that resembles the one real astronauts would have to live in when we get to the red planet, and the mission is called the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS), a research program funded by NASA to study physical and social human dynamics within the context of space exploration. 

The show’s host gave each volunteer a recorder and asked them to keep audio diaries and also periodically sent them questions. She had a burning question: 

See, the first people on Mars will be farther from home than any person has ever been before. They’ll be on a totally desolate planet with only each other for company and they’ll be crammed together in a glorified pup tent. That mixture of isolation and confinement, of being stuck so far from earth and so close to each other—what will that do to a person?

The Habitat is worth listening to for a number of reasons. Firstly, it’s interesting to learn about the individual motivation of the volunteers to get on this mission. Most of them had an “I’m taking a sabbatical”-approach and made plans such as learning Russian, or writing a children’s book. Then, it’s seeing how relationships are formed, how these people deal with homesickness and, most of all, how they make their own fun and rules. On top of that, producer and host Lynn Levy’s storytelling is witty and insightful. And, last but not least, there’s a musical treat at the end of each episode, which wins this podcast a few more points. 

Playing House On “Mars”
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