Some relatively simple problems may stop us from evercolonizing Mars. One of them is jet lag. Another is litter.

Our bodies are used to a 24-hour cycle, and a day on Mars isan extra 39 minutes long, which could make it difficult forhumans to adapt. In, Peter Wood quotesresearcher Russell Foster as saying, “The human body is usedto a 24-hour cycle, which may prove difficult to regulate inspace?[Our] circadian rhythm is crucial. It stops everythinghappening at once and co-ordinates the right things tohappen at the right time.”

The average human body clock has a period of 24 hours and 11minutes, which is corrected each day by the onset of dawnand dusk. The light levels in space are too low to reset thebody clock, leading to sleep disruptions.

It’s known that crews on the International Space Stationsleep badly, with astronauts averaging about two hours pernight less sleep than they normally get on Earth. Researchinto workers on the nightshift shows that disrupted sleeppatterns can lead to health problems and poor performance.For example, they have a 50% higher risk of a car crash atthree in the morning after four days of working all night.

On the long voyage to get to Mars, the crew would reheatpackaged meals. In, Karen Lurie quotes foodscientist Michele Perchonok as saying, “We are looking atemerging preservation technologies to provide thethree-to-five-year shelf life we will need for the Marsmission.”

An even bigger problem is what to do with the packaging oncethe food is eaten. Food engineer Sudhir Sastry says, “Oncethe food is used, the package becomes a disposal problem.NASA documents detail plans to sterilize packaging materialsuntil they can be jettisoned. However, this still means thatused packaging has to be stored for some time, becausejettison activity cannot be done frequently.” In otherwords, it’s not nice to litter in space.

Reheating food in a space ship is enough to make anyone say,I?mStill Hungry! (now onsale).

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