For the mission workers, the schedule is also more grueling than in the past. Their work hours tend to whiplash around depending on when orbiting spacecraft fly over the rover landing site to relay signals to Earth. One shift sends up commands spelling out what Curiosity will do for the day; another pores over the pictures beamed back.
To cope, workers talk as if they're on Mars, saluting "Good morning" to one another even though it might be dark outside. Cots are available for siestas. There's also free ice cream — "a little pick-me-up in the middle of the night," said mission manager Mike Watkins.
Watkins said it's tough for anyone to stray from Earth time let alone a family.
"It's something they're going to remember the rest of their lives," Watkins said.
There have been growing pains. David Oh accidentally showed up to work an hour early one time. The youngest tended to get tired at night.
The family recently reached a milestone: Staying up through sunrise and sleeping during the day.
And just as the children get used to Mars time, they'll have to reboot later this month when they revert to their terrestrial ways in time for the start of school.
Follow Alicia Chang's Mars coverage at http://www.twitter.com/SciWriAlicia
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