I often think about Life on Mars. How colonizing the planet will work. When it will happen. What it will take for it to be successful. What politics will be involved. Whether editing Wikipedia from Mars will be a pain in the neck. Stuff like that. Lots more to come on this topic.
But for today, I was thinking again about the Martian Calendar, and how it will be different from ours.
Sure, especially for the first generation of colonists, it will be difficult to leave off the conventions of “January 1st” and “February 2nd” and “December 25th.” Most people don’t think about the fact that Mars revolves around the sun a lot differently than Earth. Not as different as some of the other planets — but different enough that by the time the first babies are starting to be born on Mars, people will likely start thinking a lot more differently about the calendar.
A year on Mars is about 687 earth days. So, that ends up being 1.88 Earth years for every Martian year. Days are easier — a day on Mars is about 24 hours and 38 minutes — so, not too far off from an Earth Day. This will make it easier for colonists — though it *will* affect sleeping and making patterns, but really — not hard to get used to, compared to trying to live on other planets. But it will affect human beings. The first colonists will take a little getting used to it. But the babies born there will adjust more readily.
But there is no getting around the whole fact that the years are just pretty different.
And then it occurs to me to google whether anyone has worked through all this, yet, and it doesn’t surprise me to find a pretty extensive Wikipedia article, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timekeeping_on_Mars
I’ve been interested in reading Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars Trilogy, but have never gotten around to it. There’s an interesting idea there — keeping to earth time, except freezing the clock at midnight for the 39 minutes that are different. I can see where that makes an interesting story element, but it really isn’t practical. Once on Mars, it will be important for the colonists to keep two clocks — one that is useful for them, and one that is useful for keeping up with people on earth.
And here’s another break — will Johnny keep track of his age by earth standards, or Mars standards. e.g., I was 27 years, 3 month, and 2 days old when I left Earth — and I have been Martian for 3 Martian years. There will certainly be a different effect on the human body. I suspect that the human being, so used to living on earth, will take at least several generations to fully adapt to life on Mars. And then, would there be any going back to Earth?
There is a really nifty conversion tool here: http://www.exploratorium.edu/ronh/weight/ — you end up weighing about a third less on Mars than you do here on Earth. Seems like you’d have a pretty hard time of it going back, once getting used to it. But whose to say? Hopefully the colonists don’t end up looking like the people in Wall*E.