Martian chronicle: Working the interplanetary night shift

MarsThink your schedule is crazy? Spare a thought for the 150 Phoenix Mars lander scientists:

“Living on a Martian day is like traveling two time zones every three days over and over,” said [Laura] Barger, who is an instructor of medicine in Harvard’s Division of Sleep Medicine. “Everyone has a circadian clock. . . . When it isn’t able to synchronize with a Martian day, you get sleep disorders, decreased alertness and decremented performance.”

NASA is experimenting with soft-light boxes and an adjusted sleep schedule to help the Mars explorers stay alert. And it’s funding the two-year, $350,000 Harvard study in the hopes that results might help doctors, police, firefighers, and other earthlings who work skewed shifts.

[Mars image: jasonb42882]