This is one of a series of articles the entire HI-SEAS IV crew is writing to celebrate and reflect upon our first month in the dome. Please also visit:
“One Month Down, Eleven to Go. Feeling Fine!” by Tristan Bassingthwaighte
“This Alien Shore: 1 Month on sMars” by Sheyna Gifford
“Why Everyone Should Live in a Dome for a Year” by Carmel Johnston
“First Month on Simulated Mars” by Cyprien Verseux
Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.
– Winston Churchill
When I started this blog, just as any fledgling blogger must do, I had to come up with a title for the site. Something catchy, something that would pop. I’m a guitarist and a rock music enthusiast, and I was drawn to Joe Satriani’s song titles. Futuristic, spacey-sounding names, like “Crystal Planet”, “Raspberry Jam Delta-V”, and “Not of this Earth”. One title stood out to me, though: “Surfing with the Alien”.
The first part of the title was an obvious match to me – though I’m not a surfer myself, “Surfing” pays homage to Hawaiʻi, the location of our project. But what about “the Alien”? As it turns out, I wasn’t thinking about little green men with ray guns demanding that we take them to our leader. When we think of aliens, we tend to think of creatures that live on or come from another world. Green, bug-eyed things, descending from the sky in shiny rocketships. And from our usual perspective, we always think of aliens as others – we rarely think of the possibility that we could be the aliens. But from the perspective of Mars, future astronauts from Earth would be the visitors from another world, descending through the reddish Martian sky in shiny rocketships of their own.
So, here we are in Hawaiʻi, practicing the skills and performing the research for NASA and other space agencies that future astronauts will need to visit other worlds. It’s been an exciting and busy month as we’ve developed our routines, begun our research, and learned to live in our new environment. We’ve become the aliens the title speaks of, both in a virtual sense – simulating a mission to Mars – and in a very real sense – living on an otherwise harsh and inhospitable lava field.
As Winston Churchill once said, perhaps this is the end of the beginning. We’ve arrived, set up shop, and are now pushing forth with our mission. So, with apologies to Joe Satriani, here’s to our first month on simulated Mars, as well as to the next eleven!