If you decide to settle on some other world of the solar system, but you want someplace that’s a lot like home, then head to Mars. It has an atmosphere, the day is about the same length as Earth’s, and it even has four seasons.
The atmosphere is only about one percent as thick as Earth’s, and it consists mainly of carbon dioxide, so it’s not breathable. But if you walked under Martian skies, you might see clouds scudding high overhead, just as you would on Earth. At times, you might even see a little snow.
Scattered sunlight would turn the sky orangey-pink during the day, and create colorful sunrises and sunsets.
Mars rotates more slowly than Earth does, so a Martian day is about 40 minutes longer. That’s close enough that it shouldn’t be that difficult to adapt to the difference.
And Mars is tilted on its axis at about the same angle as Earth is, so it has the same cycle of seasons.
Mars is smaller and less dense than Earth is, though, so its surface gravity is only about three-eighths as strong. So if you weigh 150 pounds here on Earth, you’d tip the scales at just 56 pounds on Mars. That would make it easy to lope across the surface, with big, bounding strides that would get you where you want to go in a hurry — on a world that’s both alien and a little bit like home.
Mars is in good view before dawn tomorrow. The Red Planet is to the upper left of the Moon at first light, with the fainter star Regulus a little to its right.
Script by Damond Benningfield, Copyright 2011