Nagin Cox: What time is it on Mars?
Nagin Cox explores Mars as part of the team that operates NASA's rovers. Full bio
Double-click the English transcript below to play the video.
the movie "The Martian."
it's a movie about an astronaut
and his efforts to stay alive
to bring him back to Earth.
astronaut Watney, at some point
on Mars until he can be rescued.
or even if you haven't,
how far away it is and how distant.
have occurred to you is,
of working on another planet --
and there are rovers or people on Mars?
families and co-workers
or in other parts of the world.
to communicate with them,
you probably first think about is:
with colleagues who are in Europe,
communication when people are far away?
right now, but we do have rovers.
it is 6:10 in the morning.
on Mars since the mid-1990s,
to work on three of them.
a spacecraft operations engineer,
in Los Angeles, California.
are our robotic emissaries.
and they see the planet for us
on other planets through these rovers.
on Mars right now,
is longer than the Earth day.
the Earth to rotate,
40 minutes to rotate once.
is 40 minutes longer than the Earth day.
the rovers on Mars, like this one,
on Earth, but working on Mars.
on Mars with the rover.
of which I'm a part of,
to tell it what to do the next day.
or tell her whatever she's supposed to do.
and the rover does sleep at night
to recharge her batteries
the cold Martian night.
on her program for the next day.
at the same time every day on Mars --
at work at 5:00 p.m.,
at 5:00 p.m. Mars time every day,
on the Earth 40 minutes later every day,
the next day 40 minutes later at 8:40,
in the middle of the night --
how confusing that is.
have been mechanically adjusted
the rovers back then.
we'll just have the time on our computers
and that would be enough.
working on Mars time,
about what time it was.
on your wrist to tell you:
What time is it on Mars?
that was confusing;
to talk to each other about it.
again, 24 hours and 40 minutes.
that's happening on the Earth,
"Oh, let's invent a language."
walked up to me and said,
on the vehicle tomorrow, on the rover."
or Mars, tomorrow?"
we needed a way to talk to each other.
for the words they use.
and some of you might say "pop."
"nextersol" or "solorrow."
a few years of working on these missions,
on the rovers, we say "tosol."
landed missions that don't rove around,
you worked on from your Martian accent.
and you're detecting a theme here, right?
could confuse us.
you've come to work
from the windows
this image of the control room
about a week before landing,
until we went off Mars time.
for the house, for at home.
and my husband is like,
and dark curtains and shades
this darkened environment, but so was he.
emails from him when he was at work.
so he needs a Mars watch.
so there's an app for that.
we can also use our phones.
was just across the board;
who were working on the rovers
one of our flight directors,
with his family at 1:00 in the morning.
to school until September,
with him for one month.
and had these great adventures,
in the middle of the night
that we all discovered
when there's no traffic.
and bother our families,
going locally to eat something,
all-night deli in Long Beach,
it was like the 60s, no traffic.
and the restaurant owners would go,
at 3:00 in the morning?"
that there were these packs of Martians,
in the middle of the night --
start calling ourselves Martians.
would refer to ourselves as Martians,
a time-zone every day,
from everyone else.
"I survived Mars time. Sol 0-90."
up on the screen.
is because we work on Mars time
with the rover on Mars,
for more than three to four months.
time, which is what we're working now.
your bodies, it's hard on your families.
who actually were studying us
to try to extend their day.
sleep deprivation experiments on.
and I fell asleep in each one.
this eventually becomes hard on your body.
with the other members on the team,
steps out into the solar system.
on more than one planet.
to become multi-planetary.
a Star Wars movie,
from the Dagobah system to Tatooine,
people spread out so far.
of the distances between them,
separate from each other
to Mars yet, but we hope to.
space agencies of the world,
in the next few decades.
and we truly will be multi-planetary.
in this audience or listening today.
on these missions since I was 14 years old
in the space program,
you don't have enough time in your day,
of your Earthly perspective.
ABOUT THE SPEAKERNagin Cox - Spacecraft operations engineer
Nagin Cox explores Mars as part of the team that operates NASA's rovers.
Why you should listen
Nagin Cox has been exploring since she decided as a teenager that she wanted to work at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. She was born in Bangalore, India, and grew up in Kansas City, Kansas, and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Her experiences as a child in a Muslim household showed her how easily we separate ourselves based on gender, race or nationality, and it inspired her to do something that brings people together instead of dividing them. The Space Program helps the world "look up" and remember that we are one world. Thus, she has known from the time she was 14 years old that she wanted to work on missions of robotic space exploration.
Cox realized her childhood dream and has been a spacecraft operations engineer at NASA/JPL for over 20 years. She has held leadership and system engineering positions on interplanetary robotic missions including the Galileo mission to Jupiter, the Mars Exploration Rovers, the Kepler exoplanet hunter, InSight and the Mars Curiosity Rover.
In 2015, Cox was honored as the namesake for Asteroid 14061 by its discovers. She has also received the NASA Exceptional Service Medal and two NASA Exceptional Achievement Medals. She is a U.S. Department of State STEM Speaker and has spoken to audiences around the world on the stories of the people behind the missions. She has also served on Cornell University’s President's Council for Cornell Women.
Before her time at JPL, Cox served for 6 years in the US Air Force including duty as a Space Operations Officer at NORAD/US Space Command. She holds engineering degrees from Cornell University and the Air Force Institute of Technology as well as a psychology degree from Cornell. (Sometimes she is not sure which one she uses more: the engineering degree or the psychology degree.)
Cox is currently a Tactical Mission Lead on the Curiosity Rover, and every day at NASA/JPL exploring space is as rewarding as the first. You can contact her at nagincox(at)outlook.com.
Nagin Cox | Speaker | TED.com