Living on Mars Time

In the last two episodes of Sciency Words, we’ve been talking about timekeeping on Mars. A “day” on Mars is slightly longer than a day on Earth, and a Martian calendar would require a whole lot of leap years. And (spoiler alert) the Sciency Words post for this coming Friday will also be Mars-time related.

But in the course of my research, I came across this TED Talk by NASA engineer Nagin Cox. She’s one of the people who had to actually live on Mars time as part of her job, and I think she has a lot of valuable insight into what the Martian experience is really like.

For me, one of the major highlights of this is the part where Ms. Cox shows us that she’s wearing two watches: one set to Earth time and one modified to run slower, presumably 2.7% slower, to match Mars time. I’d always assumed this was a computer thing; I didn’t realize physical Mars watches were made.

It would seem that, at least as far as NASA’s Mars watches are concerned, the Martian “day” is still divided up into 24 “hours.” It’s just that these hours are 2.7% longer than hours on Earth. Martian minutes and seconds are also 2.7% longer. Obviously this is inconsistent with S.I. units, but I imagine it cost a lot less to modify an existing watch to run 2.7% slower than it would to design a whole new watch that includes an extra 39 minutes and 35 seconds in a day.

Anyway, for those of you who really want to know what it would be like to live on Mars, I think this is worth watching. It’s about 14 minutes long. To be more precise, it’s 13 minutes and 48 seconds in Earth time, or 13 minutes and 26 seconds in Mars time, assuming I did my math correctly.

And if you’re looking to get a Mars watch of your own, turns out there’s an app for that (click here for the Android version and click here for iPhone).

2 thoughts on “Living on Mars Time

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