NASA May Take a Clown Along on Its Trip to Mars—Seriously

Going all the way to Mars would seem like a serious endeavour. But Jeffry Johnson, an anthropologist from the University of Florida, is making the serious case that any long space mission, such as the planned trip to Mars, should take along at least one crew member who has a pronounced sense of humour—a sort of crew clown in many ways. The case is the ‘clown’ would help to build social bridges and defuse tensions whilst they are a perilous distance from terra firma.

Our vote’s for Krusty!

Jeffry is already actually working along with NASA and is apparently an expert in the field. He would have us believe that when you are forced to live and work with others in a confined space, tensions will build and tempers are bound to fray. Unless, of course, you have someone who is a bit of a clown, allegedly.


Usually, the group clown or practical joker would be self-appointed and generally emerge within a group, as opposed to having an official job description. The joker is critical in forging bonds, particularly under tense conditions, and any group that has an effective clown will always do better than one that is more, well, deadpan.

The trip to Mars may already be perilous enough, with the crew far, far from any support or back-up, should the need arise. The trip itself will last about eight months and communications will suffer at least a 20-minute delay at the farthest point. Taking a clown along may just make it a little more bearable apparently. Not sure a pie in the face as you begin the descent to the red planet would be funny though.

Proposed Mars Space Suit—Not.

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