"My other job is on mars"

"My other job is on mars"

Episode Description

Emma Miller takes a break from her bar gig to bring you updates from the Interplanetary Space Alliance colony on Mars. Now an official ISA podcast!

Episode Transcription

Hello everyone! You are listening to the Red Shift - your connection to your piece of the sky! I'm your host, Emma Miller. As of today, we have a whole lot of new listeners so I hope my regulars won't mind if I introduce myself again. So, hello!

As I just said, my name is Emma Miller, and even though this is a show about the Interplanetary Space Alliance's Mars colony, I'm actually just like you. At least, I'm certainly no astrophysicist. When I'm not hosting the show, you can find me serving drinks at a hotel bar in downtown Los Angeles. I am so happy to be hosting this show and getting a chance to hang out with so many incredible space-loving listeners! I don't know about you all, but I remember the exact moment that I fell in love with space.

If you've heard me tell this story before, I'm sorry I've got to do it. I was ten years old. It was my very first year at summer camp. It was also the very first time that I had ever slept in a tent, and they had three of us stuffed into this tiny, tiny little plastic thing. I woke up in the middle of the night and it smelled like new plastic and gross wet socks.

So I stuck my head out for a breath of fresh air and I looked up and - bam. I know it sounds stupid, but I had no idea there were that many stars. In my defence, I had never been out of the city at night. It was the first time I ever saw the Milky Way.

So the next day I kept talking about the stars as if they were my own personal discovery. My favorite counselor ended up pulling me aside a few days later and walked with me to a dock on the shore of the lake. She pointed out a thin kind of path shimmering on the water, like moonlight, but skinnier and red. The path lit along the water all the way to a red ball hanging in the sky just above the horizon.

“That's Mars,” she said.

And right then I wanted to be able to walk up that path and get a little piece of that sky. Unfortunately, between gym class and math class, it didn't look like I was astronaut material, but I really never lost that love of space. Fast forward a few years: I went to school in LA to make a career in show business, and that worked out as well as it usually does. With me pouring drinks in a West Hollywood bar. One particularly crappy night, I got off work knowing that not only was I not getting anywhere in show business, but I was also going to have to get another gig if I ever wanted to afford an apartment on my own.

I remember looking up at the sky and wishing that LA would just turn the lights off one time so that I could see the stars again and feel, I don't know, that feeling that you get where you look up at the stars and you feel so small, and yet you just absolutely belong. I'm sure some of you guys know what I'm talking about. The next day, some search engine algorithm fed me that ISA tagline - “My other job is on Mars” - and suddenly I was swept away.

I saved some money out of my tip jar and bought the tiniest little stake in the Mars colony. It was just after Mission Three had landed, and, I mean, I followed those twelve astronauts like crazy people read about celebrities. I even started doing this little radio show talking about Mars and space. It didn't really make me a ton of money, and it wasn't a fancy production by any means, but it did make me feel like I was truly a part of something, you know? And that's what we all really want, right?

So, fast forward to about a month ago. I'm working at my bar and who comes in but Yui Nakano, the Mars Science Lead for the ISA. Listen, I've seen lots of celebrities come through the doors of my work, but I don't know if I'd ever been as starstruck as I was seeing Yui. Here's the insane part, though.

She knew of me, too. She was a Shifter! And if you're not aware, I should probably tell you now that's what I call my regular listeners, so hopefully you'll all be Shifters by the end of this. Anyway, we kept chatting right up to closing time. A week later, she comes back and she tells me that the ISA has been trying to get the public really engaged with Mission Four. She's seen all these pitches from a ton of marketing agencies, but had the Red Shift on her mind the whole time, which is insane. Why not just use this show? The whole point of the ISA is citizen space, right? They aren't a government agency. They're not big tech trying to make money for shareholders. They're trying to imagine the aerospace industry in a new way. And what could be more ISA than involving and supporting one of their own stakeholders who managed to come up with their own creative thing?

At first I thought she was kidding. When she assured me that she was not for the 15th time, and that she truly wanted to give me exclusive ISA content, press releases, and even interviews with astronauts and mission control, I agreed. Of course. Obviously.

So now here we are. Let's just take a moment to soak that in. The Red Shift is now the official radio show of the Interplanetary Space Alliance.

It seems crazy, huh? But if you know your ISA history, lifting up regular people has always been a big part of their DNA. The ISA is the brainchild of Estonian visionary Gaabriel Rebane. It became a real player in aerospace when they saw the spacesuit problems that were such a bottleneck for Luna Base. To combat these issues, the ISA announced a worldwide contest for new spacesuit designs. All the usual suspects showed up - big schools, major aerospace teams.

But the winner was Daylinda Tudtud, a dress designer from a garment factory in Manila. The lesson here was: sometimes the best ideas come from seemingly unlikely places. Crazy fun fact, and a little bit of a tangent, but if you're not a hardcore space nerd, you might not know that this is the second time that this sort of thing has happened.

Back in the 1960s, NASA was taking proposals for spacesuits for their astronauts to wear to go to the Moon. They put out the call and were met with all the players that you'd expect and also one that you totally wouldn't. The girdle and bra company, Playtex. Playtex ran circles around the competition. Literally. The other suits? Well, on one of them, the helmet just popped right off, which, if you can imagine, doesn't work very well in space.

Another one got so huge when it pressurized that the astronauts couldn't fit through the capsule door. Obviously problematic. Playtex, though, put an astronaut in their suit and had him play football for 2 hours. Obviously, Playtex won that bid. It was the same story.

Daylinda's suits were comfortable and flexible and also could be made for 10% what the other guys were charging because a garment factory never really gets to bill a national government $4,000 for a screw, you know what I mean? The ISA and I have that in common - we like great quality, but we also like great deals.

All right, so now we get down to business. Let's go over some things for any new listeners and get everyone up to speed. Most of you, like myself, have some stake, big or small, in the ISA's colony on Mars. This isn't a base being run by a government agency or a tech company. It's meant to be a colony of people like us, run by us. By teachers, by plumbers, by coders, by artists, and in some cases, by bartenders/radio hosts. By day, we live our regular lives and work our regular boring jobs, but our second job is on Mars.

Here's how the show is going to work. Every week I'll start with any official ISA announcements. Once we have that out of the way, well, then comes an exclusive piece of content, whether it be the juicy stuff happening right now at Mission Control or on the Mission Four convoy currently en route to Mars as we're speaking, or even a bulletin from the colony on the planet. And to tease it, I'll just say that next week we're going to have a “Day on Mars” report from an actual astronaut there right now. I know. I'm so excited. Whatever the content is, I want us to be able to talk about it.

So start putting your questions in the chat! All you have to do: /ask and then ask your question. You know the drill.

For example, here's something to think about right now. Right now, we've got twelve astronauts on Mars, and can I just say, because I've now had the chance to actually meet some of them, they are the coolest people. But they also come up through traditional aerospace programs. Lots of ex-Air Force types, lots of big tech and military background. They train with the ESA and NASA. They're cosmonauts! They staffed up the Artemis Project and Luna Base, and that's amazing. But this new mission, Mission Four, these 32 new astronauts are the first wave to come entirely from ISA stakeholders, trained from the ground up in the ISA's own facilities and programs. They're us! Only, you know, astronauts. They aren't ordinary, but they also aren't all ex-Air Force. They are more like us. They come from all over the planet, all different walks of life. I, personally, can't wait to see how those cultures mix.

For the NASA types, space is kind of just a job site. It's where you work. But for us, this is a colony. It's a new home. One of the new doctors coming on Alliance Four is a specialist in childbirth in space. What does it mean to have a colony versus a job site? A kid who grows up on Mars has to have a very different experience than a kid who grows up on Earth, right? A new culture is going to happen. A totally unique Martian culture!

o we want that? I feel like we do. But hey, I'm still on Earth. What do you think? Will there be a clash of cultures between the military types and the ISA zone, or even between the Mars colony and us on Earth? I don't know. Throw your thoughts in the chat. Let's talk about it after the break. Less me, more you. It's a good thing.

Speaking of a break, it wouldn't be a real show without a word from our sponsors. That's right, Shifters. We have sponsors now. This is exciting for me. Can you tell? All right, buckle up, here it goes.

Did you know that most people spend about 40 minutes a day thinking about food? I know. Sounds low, right? I can't imagine that it would be any different for our friends out on Mars. In fact, I bet they think about it way more than 40 minutes out of their day, especially when the food can get pretty bland up there. On the surface of Mars, water boils at ten degrees Celsius. Try cooking spaghetti in that. Even in the pressurized tabs, lower gravity and swollen sinuses dramatically reduce astronauts ability to taste things that are sweet or salty.

And when food's not tasty, people don't eat it. Calorie debt and malnutrition among astronauts has plagued long-term space activities since the days of the ISS. But the Martian Gastronomic Consortium is here to help a collective of Earthers just like you dedicated to finding new and more delicious ways to feed our Martian colony. I can't wait to see what they come up with. Hopefully they'll let me try a plate before they send it to space.

And now it's time for the weather. That's right, every show after the break I'm going to give you a weather report on the week that was and the week that the ISA modelers think it might be. Back in the olden times of last week when this wasn't an official ISA broadcast, our Shifters will probably remember that the Mars Colony was in the grip of what the always somewhat salty John Alves called, quote, medkit weather. Not quite bad enough to shut everything down and stay bunkered in the habs, but the next worst thing. Sustained sandblast winds of 60 to 70 km an hour and nighttime lows near negative 90 degrees Celsius. But this week, things are looking up. Winds have dropped to 15 to 20 km/hour, and as the dust drops down, visibility is decent for the first time in two weeks. Last night's low only went down to negative 62 degrees Celsius, and they're looking for a high today of a tropical negative 18 degrees. Time to break out your swimsuits and head to the pool! Maybe not. But! We can keep our fingers crossed that the warming trend continues. The colony site was chosen for its proximity to a bunch of possible ice sites, and nothing helps spot the right place to mind like a day that goes over freezing and puts a few wet spots on the ground.

And now, with all of the business out of the way, it's time for my favorite part of the show. The part of the show where you get to be a part of it! I threw out the topic of culture clash, but maybe something totally different is burning a hole in your brain. I have been seeing your questions coming in, so I think it's about time we get to them. It is your piece of the sky, too, so let's talk about it!

Well, nothing ever goes entirely to plan. I accidentally clicked to stop the recording after I started opening up your questions. So though typically I would have recorded that segment of the show while live, I'm going to be recording it again right now. Next week won't be a problem, I promise. I'm so sorry, Yui.

All right, so let me re-answer your questions first. We had April's question, “Can I meet Emma in La next month?”. Unfortunately, for my safety, the ISA and my bar owner has told me to not share my actual location with anyone at the moment. So, unfortunately, no. At least not yet.

The next question was from Minnie, which is, “Who is Yui?”. Yui, if you don't know, is the Mars Science Lead for the ISA. When she was in her graduate school, she, and I am again going to not be able to fully answer this because it's a lot of science, but basically the soil in Mars is very perchlorate rich, which is toxic, and her team of fellow scientists and herself worked on creating a way to turn those perchlorates into simple salt and also create oxygen, which, as you can imagine, is super useful for life on Mars. And that's what kind of led to her job here. I have always thought Yui has been the most incredible spokeswoman for the ISA and just an incredible science mind. If I understood science better, I would like to be just like her. She is incredible and is the reason that I'm here today, which is amazing.

The next question was from Prielle, the question was, “When is mission four?”. Mission Four is going to be landing January 25 of 2038, so early into 2038. Very exciting stuff. I am waiting with bated breath at this point.

The next question was from Ishie, which was “Moving forward, how can we maintain a culture of camaraderie as a community as we go from one mission to another?”, and that question is kind of hard to answer. On the one hand, it's kind of impossible to know, you know? It's kind of impossible to know. There is a lot of factors that go into it. I think in the end that despite the different cultures that are being presented currently on Mars, and also in Mission Four and the astronauts that are currently on their way to Mars, I think in the end, everyone is driven together by their belief in the ISA and the mission of the ISA. So in the end, I think it's really up to the astronauts themselves, but it's also up to us here on Earth to make sure that we are helping to maintain that camaraderie and community here. I know that there are a lot of incredible guilds and groups that are being formed, and I think that's what we have to do in order to maintain that culture of camaraderie.

The next question was from Miley, which was, “Does it get lonely on Mars?”. I shared that Mithi, one of our amazing astronauts, is always super happy and doesn't really seem to let the isolation or the, you know, small amount of people get to her. Alexei is super used to being alone, or kind of isolated, and honestly, it's kind of hard, I think, to be lonely when you are literally on top of each other all the time. Our twelve astronauts on Mars are in very close quarters, so I actually, well, I kind of think that they probably struggle more for alone time than they struggle with the feelings of loneliness, but I could be wrong.

The next question was from Broccoli and that was, “What missions are planned in the future?”. The next mission, so Mission Five, is going to be a mining-focused mission, which will be really exciting. Don't have a lot of news for that yet in terms of when that's going to take place, but it is on the horizon and we're quite excited about it.

The next question was from Ais Galdwin, which was “Hello, Emma, nice to meet you. Regarding the upcoming interview with one of the twelve astronauts present on Mars, could we get a little hint about his name?”. I don't want to share too much, just like I didn't want to share during the live show, but I will say that there is a great interview coming up and perhaps it's not with someone that would have his name but perhaps a her name. We'll see.

And the final question that we answered was “Hi, Emma, When's the #facereveal?” from Arnold Ben. Unfortunately, much like the question about when we can meet up in LA, just for the sake of safety and per the ISA's protocol, we're going to keep this as a radio show for now and just stick to the voice. But, who knows?

Well, that's it. Thanks for letting me re-answer your questions. I am mortified about tech difficulties. Of course the first show would have tech difficulties. It's fine.

I can't wait to chat with you all next week. Thank you guys so much for listening to our recording and of course, the live show as it was happening. It was so fun to hang out with all you new Shifters.

I'll see you all later. Bye!

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Emma Miller takes a break from her bar gig to bring you updates from the Interplanetary Space Alliance colony on Mars. Now an official ISA podcast!