I’ve always tried to look at jet lag from a more recreational perspective (when else will I rise from sleep wide awake at 3:45 AM?), but what the scientists of the Mars Phoenix Lander mission have to go through makes a 19-hour direct flight to Singapore look like cupcakes. Since Martial Sols are longer than Earth days by 40 minutes, the staff’s work schedule effectively skips two time zones every three days to stay on the spacecraft’s own schedule. Multiply that over the course of the planned 92-day mission, and you’ve got some mightily out-of-wack Circadian rhythms on your hands.
One way to preserve the Phoenix workers’ sanity are the harsh blue LED-lit workstations you see here, which are on a wavelength that simulates daylight and fools the body into thinking everything’s OK. Researchers from the Harvard Medical School who are using the Mars Phoenix staff as guinea pigs for a study on Circadian rhythms also have them doing pre- and post-shift cognition and “mood” testing.
So if any of this crazy scheduling rings a bell with your terrestrial gig, do yourself right and get a nice big glaring blue LED panel for your cube. You’ll feel a lot better. [Space.com]