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B Keeping time on Mars

  1. Jan 15, 2017 #1
    Once humans begin arriving on Mars in the next decade or two, how will they keep time and organize their calendar? Will a special Mars date and time system need to be developed or will the colonists (at least initially) stay on pace with the Earth-based system of 24-hour days and 12-month years?
    If the colonists were indeed to use their own system featuring a 669-sol Martian year, I assume some sort of simple conversion tool would be necessary (like Fahrenheit to Celcius) to coordinate with Earth. To complicate things even more, Mars would probably also have its own 24 time zones.
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 15, 2017 #2


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    I admire your extreme optimism.
  4. Jan 15, 2017 #3
    I figured someone would! Any thoughts about the Martian calendar?
  5. Jan 15, 2017 #4


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    No. I'm an old, practical engineer and will be long dead before we have a colony on Mars. I'm going to leave it to them to figure out.
  6. Jan 15, 2017 #5


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    Since at least early colonies will likely be underground, there will not much of a need for official time to keep pace with the Sun or the seasons, keeping step with Earth time(GMT and date would likely be the norm. There will be those disciplines that would need to keep track of these things, but they would likely develop their own system much like astronomers today use the Julian year. I see no need for adopting time zones at all.
  7. Jan 15, 2017 #6
    The Moon would almost certainly stay on the Earth calendar, with the entire Moon being in the US Eastern time zone.
    It's just a lot more complicated with Mars.
  8. Jan 15, 2017 #7

    Vanadium 50

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    Including Daylight Savings Time?
  9. Jan 15, 2017 #8
    Here is a thought on Martian time zones, JPL when dealing with MSL operations has a system worked out to equate Earth time and Martian time. This is only relevant when comparing a JPL's worker shift with what curiosity is currently doing but it gives an interesting perspective on the difference between a "Sol" and a "day" http://msl-scicorner.jpl.nasa.gov/scienceoperations/
    For further reading I think https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timekeeping_on_Mars may be useful as a starting point.
  10. Jan 15, 2017 #9
    When the first group of people land on Mars, I think they can just keep a tool (such as a atomic clock maybe?) displaying the time on the earth. Thought it may be a little bit uncomfortable and confusing...
  11. Jan 16, 2017 #10


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    The settlements will be underground in some way, but there will be many surface operations - I'm quite sure people will use the 24h 37min cycle of sols.

    A separate Mars calendar won't be necessary for a long time. Just count Sols, as they do with current Mars missions. A Mars-based calendar might arise over time if a colony starts getting more and more independent.
    Not even the ISS, where the US contributed the most, uses any US time zone. They use UTC.
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