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Scientist spending a year on 'Mars' reveals what a typical day looks like

Scientist spending a year on 'Mars' reveals what a typical day looks like

Scientist Kelly Haston also spilled some space secrets on how The Mandalorian and Mars are colliding on the year-long mission.

It sounds like the punchline for a joke: what does a scientist living on Mars do to keep busy?

Well, she packs a crochet kit based on Disney+ series The Mandalorian to pass the time when she's not being a Martian and exploring Mars.

This snippet is the latest update from Canadian biologist Kelly Haston, who is part of a volunteer team who've embarked on a year-long analog mission (a field test) to live in a habitat on Earth that simulates life on Mars very closely.

Kelly Haston is 'living on Mars' for a year (NASA)
Kelly Haston is 'living on Mars' for a year (NASA)

Called CHAPEA, or Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog, she is joined by engineer Ross Brockwell, medical officer Nathan Jones and science officer Anca Selariu.

The four are the crew spending some 378 days inside Mars Dune Alpha, a 3D printed structure which will ‘simulate a realistic Mars habitat to support long-duration, exploration-class space missions’, as per NASA’s website.

NASA added: "Life in Mars Dune Alpha will resemble the expected experience for those living in a future Mars surface habitat".

Given that the current distance from Earth to the real Mars, on average, is about 140 million miles (225 million km) , according to, we think it's wise that the crew have been keeping themselves busy when they're not out exploring.

Away from space, Haston is an ultrarunner, and she revealed in August, having been on 'Mars' since June, that she isn't going too stir crazy.

“It is comfortable and spacious, and I do not yet miss being outside. I am an avid trail runner, and I was worried I would miss being outside with friends and loved ones," she said while answering questions for the Houston Chronicle.

She revealed that the crew go exploring by donning spacesuits and virtual reality headsets while taking long walks on treadmills to 'conduct scientific collections and observations', the paper said.

And she said that they keep busy by playing games, watching TV shows and more, but she has also been learning Spanish and to play the ukulele, as well as having taken along a crochet kit based on The Mandalorian to bide the time.

Haston, who is commander of the mission, and her colleagues will give scientists an idea of how humans react to living on Mars over a long period of time ahead of the real mission to Mars in the future.

There are private living quarters on the Mars simulation.

Mars Dune Alpha is 1,700 square feet and made from lavacrete, a high-strength concrete. It features workstations, a dedicated medical station, common lounge areas, a galley and food growing stations, and four private crew quarters – because even volunteers need their privacy.

In July, Haston revealed what the biggest challenge for her had been so far.

"The biggest challenge so far is communication with our loved ones and family," she said in an email interview with collectSPACE.

She added: "The time delay and data restrictions mean that things can get held up unexpectedly, or be slower than expected, if a lot of different items are queued up at the same time.

"We have worked through several unexpected challenges in this regard, so it's been a steeper learning curve that I thought we would need."

"Happily, that is the major challenge we have faced so far, and we hope it is getting better. The daily challenge of being on Mars has so far been very fun".

But what is a crew was living on Mars for real? Would it be the same as Haston's current mission?

She told collectSPACE: "The first obvious difference is that we are not actually experiencing lower gravity or differences in oxygen. This would not be possible to simulate but would be physiologically very different, and also make EVAs ( extravehicular activities) a lot more dangerous if something goes wrong".

Plus, she said, another huge difference would be the timeframe a crew would be away.

They'd be gone for "much longer, possibly over three years due to travel constraints".

Also, Haston and co will definitely make it back to Earth, which said explained to collectSPACE adding: "Knowing that we will egress in just a little over a year and that we will definitely egress from this mission is a lot less stressful than someone actually traveling to and living on Mars."