Should I go back, should I go back, should I?
I hope I won’t forget you

– from “Asthenia” by Blink-182

Today’s my cooking day, and, dressed in my finest University of Texas Longhorn garb, I’m simmering a pot of my famous and controversial sMartian chili (apologies to Erin and Kev, but it’s got beans today), while blasting various ZZ Top tunes from my laptop.  I’ve decided to keep things Texan in the kitchen today, because this is my last kitchen shift on sMars.  One week from right now, I’ll be standing “back on Earth”.

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Roll Up Your Sleeve

Trying to conquer an alien world? Remember, never underestimate the small threats…like GERMS!

– Zim’s computer, from the “Invader Zim” episode “Germs”

My mouth was dry.  My face was numb.  And, as I sat there, spun out in my crew quarters, a thought passed through my mind: “Pertussis is an a*****e.”

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Catching Jupiter

Ignition…and…liftoff of the Atlas V with Juno on a trek to Jupiter, a planetary piece of the puzzle on the beginning of our Solar System.

– George Diller, NASA Launch Commentator

On 3pm on August 5, 2011, I was awakened by a cacophony of alarms.  Groggily opening my eyes, I reached beside my bed, and switched off my alarm clock.  Next, I picked up my phone, silenced its alarm as well, and immediately opened a browser window.  Navigating to, I saw a headline with a photo of a large rocket lifting off from a launchpad in Florida.  That was all I needed to see: Juno was on its way, and it was time for me to get ready to go to work.

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The Best Darn Chili on sMars

One cannot be a true son or daughter of this state without having his taste buds tingle at the thought of the treat that is real, honest-to-goodness, unadulterated Texas chili

from Texas House Concurrent Resolution No. 18, 65th Legislature, Regular Session (1977)

…huh.  It’s been a while.  No posts since December, and nothing particularly serious since October.  Sorry about that.  Life on sMars keeps us busy, and the NASA astronaut application kept me even busier for a little while, but I reckon it’s time to dust off the cobwebs and post something again.  Today’s my cooking day, and, since I’ve got a pot of chili simmering on the stove right now, that seems like a good topic to write about.

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Clocks, Calendars, and Colonies

“Day” is a vestigial mode of time measurement based on solar cycles. It’s not applicable.

…I didn’t get you anything.

– River Tam, from the “Firefly” episode “Out of Gas”, discussing her brother Simon’s birthday while aboard the spaceship “Serenity”

Several months ago, while watching the television show Caprica, the prequel to the modern Battlestar Galactica series, a thought crossed my mind: how the heck do the Twelve Colonies keep time?

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Real Engineering on Simulated Mars

Remember those old math questions you had in algebra class?  Where water is entering a container at a certain rate and leaving at a different rate and you need to figure out when it’ll be empty?  Well, that concept is critical to the “Mark Watney doesn’t die” project I’m working on.

– Mark Watney, from the book “The Martian”

In the book “The Martian” (and, I’m assuming, the movie too, we haven’t seen it yet), Mark Watney performs a lot of calculations.  He has very limited resources to work with to keep himself alive.  For example, he calculates the amount of calories available to eat from the potatoes he grows, and, from there, calculates how many days of food he has left.  He also calculates the amount of water he needs to grow his potatoes and keep himself healthy.

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