If it is 12a UTC, then what time is it on Mars?
#129128. Asked by christopherm. (Jan 23 13 1:45 AM)
There's no conversion table possible as it's a movable feast. The day in Mars is longer, and the year is longer as well. NASA keep track of Mars time ona perpetual basis.|
How Do You Tell Time On Mars?
by Rebecca Boyleat
Australian Popular Science - 9th March 2012
When NASA's new Mars rover lands on the Red Planet this summer, it's safe to assume it'll be sometime in the morning or early afternoon at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, home of the rover science and engineering teams. So that means it'll be mid-afternoon on the East Coast, evening in Europe, and so on - pretty easy to figure out the time zones. But what time will it be on Mars? What time zone will Curiosity live in -- and how can you even tell?
Timekeeping on Mars is a bit like telling time on Earth, because the planets are similar in lots of ways. But there are just enough differences to drive a person slightly crazy. To start with, the Martian day, or sol, is 39 minutes and 35 seconds longer than a day on Earth. This isn't a lot, but it adds up quickly when you're living on Mars time--as the Curiosity team will. And a Martian year lasts 668.59 sols, about 1.88 times an Earth year. Seasons last much longer and are much more extreme, thanks in part to Mars' deeply eccentric orbit.
"It feels like you are perpetually flying east 40 minutes every day," said Deborah Bass, a scientist at JPL who worked on the Spirit and Opportunity rovers and the Phoenix lander. "You're always jet-lagged. It's only a little bit, because an hour - who cares, that's not so bad. But it starts to take its toll."
as we mark our lives according to the passage of time, so too do space missions, for scientific reasons as well as landmarks. Most Mars missions have been solar-powered, meaning the spacecraft must do their work during daylight hours. Curiosity has a nuclear generator, but it will still be a solar craft in many ways - its cameras and other instruments need sunlight to see, and atmospheric phenomena, like the huge temperature shift between day and night on Mars, follows the movement of the sun. So engineers need a reliable method to keep track of time on the planet. Michael Allison, an emeritus professor at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, has made a hobby of figuring it out. "I actually know Mars time, in a way, better than Earth time," he jokes.
First, he says, you determine local noon, the point when the sun crosses the meridian overhead. That's called Local True Solar Time. But Mars (and Earth) have eccentric orbits, moving closer and farther from the sun throughout the year, so local noon can be off by a few minutes as the elevation of the sun in the sky changes.So to be really accurate, astronomers use something called a "fictitious mean sun," which would move according to the mean position of the sun. This positioning -- given by a chart called an analemma -- gives you Local Mean Solar Time. That's what astronomers use to tell time on Mars
So now you can figure out your local noon. You can also figure out local time relative to the mean solar time at a specific point, a prime meridian. On Earth, this used to be called Greenwich Mean Time, and now it's Coordinated Universal Time. U.S. Eastern time is UTC-5 hours, and so on. On Mars, it's called MTC.
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