Days on Mars

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Days on Mars

When you fly across several time zones, it takes your body a while to adjust — to reset its internal clock to its usual rhythm. It gets help from the Sun — the 24-hour cycle of day and night.

Sometime in the future, people may experience the biggest jet lag of all — a trip to Mars. But adjusting to Mars time might not be all that difficult. For one thing, the length of a day on Mars is only about 40 minutes longer than an Earth day. And for another, research has shown that the human body actually prefers a day that’s more than 24 hours long. Those cues of light and dark pull it back down.

In fact, some experiments have shown that the body can adopt a much longer cycle. People have been isolated in caves or other remote locations with no clocks, watches, or access to the Sun. In those cases, people’s internal clocks have reset to a day length of up to 48 hours.

Living on Mars will provide a lot of challenges — extreme cold, lack of a breathable atmosphere, and a lot of nasty dust. But it looks like the length of a Martian day probably won’t be one of them.

Mars continues to nose its way into the sky earlier by the evening. Right now, it climbs into good view in the east-northeast by about 10:30 or 11, and looks like a bright orange star. It will grow brighter through early December.

Tomorrow: the closest field of newborn stars.

Script by Damond Benningfield

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