What do you imagine an average day on Mars would be like?
What would you eat for breakfast, what - specifically - would you imagine doing with your day?
As a researcher in physics and more recently biology, of course I have a number of scientific concerns about the mission.
Assuming that the living units established on Mars in advance of human arrival are shown to be habitable i.e. that sufficient oxygen, water and heat are constantly available, and assuming that the first group of astronauts lands safely on Mars, there remain serious concerns for the first Martians. These include the effects on the body of radiation exposure during the journey and on Mars itself, of reduced gravitational and magnetic fields, and whether the available medical supplies and nutrition will be sufficient to deal with some of the resulting health implications. I think a lot of research on these questions and others needs to be done in the next decade or so before the first planned human departure.
I think amongst other social issues, those of ownership and accountability for actions on Mars also need to be addressed.
As far as day-to-day activities, when I lived in Japan I got to like eating things like bacteria-fermented soybeans and small brown bony fish for breakfast. So I'm sure I would quickly adapt to an insect-based breakfast of champions on Mars! While grain and vegetables will be grown (organically of course) on Mars, bugs reproduce quickly for a good supply of fats and amino acids.
What the first colonisers will do on Mars is really the pinnacle of 4 billion years of evolution: life forms from Earth will for the first time put on their suits and set out to do a day's work on a planet hundreds of millions of kilometres from what was previously home.
Initially, the first colonisers will have to spend a lot of time setting up, checking and maintaining all of the equipment that will keep them alive.
Almost every aspect of living on Mars will involve discovering something new: pioneering new areas of science as well as a new human community in a new environment. I’m extremely excited to take part in establishing and possibly finding evidence of life on Mars. I can’t think of anything that could compare to suiting up and setting out on my own very first Mars-walk, just to see what is out there.
For a long time, most things will be a first on Mars- first sunrise, first sunset, first birthday celebration, first tears, first sighting of the Olympus Mons, first messages from home, first 'homegrown' food, first Martian custom, and perhaps even the first discovery that life on Earth originated in a meteorite from Mars.
On Mars there are just 39 more minutes in a day than on Earth. I would spend those minutes in silence remembering Earth.