Living on Mars would be both strange and familiar.
On the familiar side, a day on Mars is about the same length as a day on Earth — 24 hours and 37 minutes. Mars is tilted at the same angle that Earth is, so the planet experiences seasons in the same way. And many of its landscapes look like what you might see in the deserts of Earth, with mesas and sand dunes, along with dust devils whirling through the sky.
On the strange side, the surface gravity is only three-eighths as strong as Earth gravity. So if you weigh a hundred and fifty pounds on Earth, you’d weigh only 58 pounds on Mars. That means you’d probably need to walk much like Apollo astronauts did on the Moon, gently rocking from side to side. And if you dropped something, it would take longer to fall to the surface.
Mars has an atmosphere, as Earth does, but it’s less than one percent as thick as Earth’s. So you’d need an air supply to venture out across the surface. The thin air, and the greater distance from the Sun, make Mars much colder than Earth. Nighttime temperatures regularly plunge to 100 degrees below zero or lower, so you’d need to bundle up.
And two small moons race across the night sky — an unfamiliar sight on a somewhat familiar planet.
Mars stands close to our Moon tonight. It looks like a bright orange star to the left of the Moon in early evening, and above the Moon as they set, before dawn.
We’ll have more about Mars and the Moon tomorrow.
Script by Damond Benningfield