Have You Listened to “The Habitat”?

During the long drive from Colorado to Kansas City (and then St. Louis) last month, we listened to a podcast called The Habitat. It’s an 8-episode series about 6 people who sign up to live in close confines as if they’re on Mars for 1 year. I really recommend it–especially for a road trip–and I have a few thoughts about it that delve into minor spoilers in case you want to hold off on reading this.

My first thought is that I really like the concept of testing the human level of living for a long period of time with strangers, far away from Earth. The Habitat simulation really played up those ideas. Like, even though the habitat was in Hawaii, if a participant wanted to go outside, they had to put on a space suit. And if they wanted to send a message to anyone on earth, there was a long delay.

My second thought is that for a brief second I found myself annoyed at that narrator’s endless interest in the possibility of romance in the habitat. But then I realized that I was just as curious!

My third thought was about the most contentious member of the habitat crew, someone who seemed to grate on the nerves of all other participants. There’s a really interesting dialog at the end where the narrator asks this person if she was aware of how she impacted other people and how their dislike of her made her feel. Her eventual response is that she thought the crew needed an antagonist of sorts so they could direct their negative energy on her instead of each other. While it’s an interesting observation, and there may be some truth to it, I couldn’t help but wonder if she truly was aware of how she was annoying her crewmembers, why not just tone done the level of annoyance a bit? Then everyone can be just a little bit happier. An example of this was when the crew was able to order a few special food items from “Earth,” and many of them chose junk food. Her response was to turn up her nose at them and suggest they choose healthier foods. Was she actually saying that to make herself the target for the benefit of the crew…or was she just not aware of how her comments had a negative impact on the others? I highly suspect the latter. We’ve all probably known someone like this person, and if we’re honest with ourselves, we’ve probably acted that way at times too. I definitely have, and looking back, I wish I had simply held my tongue.

Last, as I posited to my fellow road-trippers, would you ever sign up for something like the habitat if you could choose the timeframe? I think the food situation would be rough, as well as the lack of alone time. I could maybe make it a month. But would I? Probably not. It’s just such a big departure from real life. Now, if I actually got to go to Mars, I would have to consider it. What about you?

2 thoughts on “Have You Listened to “The Habitat”?”

  1. I like the idea of this kind of experiment. I’d try it on earth, but I don’t know for how long. I would miss a lot of my hobbies that would probably be impossible in such a Habitat.
    Have you seen the Documentary “Spaceship Earth” on Hulu? It’s about the people who lived inside the Biosphere in Arizona for 2 years (I think) in the early 90’s. Pretty interesting, but doesn’t get a lot into the personal relationships, since its goal was all about science.


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