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Time perception in Space. As an analog astronaut.

I spent the past 3 weeks in Poland's research station Lunares to understand how the time perception changed in full isolation, as the Commander of an analog astronaut mission with 4 crew members.

human in space

What's an analog astronaut?


An analog astronaut is someone who simulates Moon and Mars missions on Earth to prepare for future long-duration space missions. Preparing on Earth for such missions, helps better prepare astronauts and future Space tourists physiologically and psychologically.

Why time perception in Space?

In Space, humans experience 16 sunrises and sunsets in 24 hours. Astronauts living in space have a home that is just a laboratory. Sterile. Cables. Machines. There is no horizon. No natural light. No gravity. It is impossible to get a sense of time.There are analog clocks that work to allow the crew to comunicate precisely with mission control, but during long-term missions, astronauts tend to detach from mission-control "time" and create their own points of time-reference. A power outage can become the reference point to what happened "before" or "after" that.


Further, LunAres is a research habitat the provides space for experiments investigating human factors in space and isolated habitat for extreme environments. The research regarding human factors is focusing on the impact of isolation and mission conditions on the psychological and physiological health of a crew. 

This was the perfect scenario to test the Wide Time concept in an extreme scenario.

analog astronaut habitat
Lunares Research Station - Simulation of a Space Station

How is Space simulated for analog astronauts?

If you're wondering, no, there was no simulation of microgravity.


  1. No access to natural sunlight. We were living in a totally enclosed space. We only had artificial light for 2 weeks straight.

  2. Little and delayed access to communication with the outside world

  3. Eating monotonous diet and this is the same type of food that astronauts eat

  4. EVAs experiments every other day, which are simulations of spacewalks wearing spacesuit

  5. Run different medical and psychological scenarios 


This was the research question I was trying to explore during the mission:

Research question:What pattern will our perception of time follow? Which variables will we notice?



crew members of analog astronaut mission testing wide time calendar
Testing the usage of the Wide Time calendar during the mission with the analog astronaut crew

Day 1

I introduced the calendar to the crew, just giving a short intro on the concept. We decided to check-in every week on our perception of time.


Day 4

We had experienced all the new exciting routines and some had already started to repeat. The "newness" was slowing down.

Highlights defining the different days:


  • Looking back at the pictures we took

  • first-time things we did


Day 7

Time had already started to warp.

What’s the variable that made me distinguish between the different days?


  • the things that happened outside the routine (eg. EVA)

  • the activities we did together as a crew


Day 9

Time warped totally and invitably.

How did the structure and organization of the mission help us avoid that?


  • Write an individual report everyday where you’re forced to write what you ahad achieved that day

  • Write a daily report setting your objectives for that day

  • Give updates daily to Mission Control

  • Do team activities together


Day 11

Before starting the mission, I had a lot of ideas of what I wanted to do when in isolation. However, after a bit more than a week I was out of ideas and energy. My thoughts just gravitated around the small ecosystem of the habitat necessities, it felt like I forgot about the world's problems and possibilities. And this happened despite me being very aware of what I wanted to do. Image if I had no intentions nor plans.


Day 15

 On day 15 we went out of the habitat and saw natura light again. What I realized I was strongly missing and giving for granted before entering the habitat was:

  1. Getting used to depth again

  2. Getting used to the warmth of the sun

  3. Getting used the breeze and its sound

  4. Getting used to the mix of nature smells


Finally I understood intrinsically how the beauty is truly on Earth. And we should learn about Space to better thrive on Earth, not escape from it.

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