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Moon and Mars

March 8, 2018

People are pretty adaptable. We’ve learned to live in some harsh conditions: deserts, jungles, mountaintops — and even the South Pole. Someday, though, people may live in an environment that’s even tougher: the surface of Mars. And it’s certain to take some getting used to.

In some ways, Mars is much like Earth. Its day is only a bit longer than Earth’s, so the cycle of day and night is quite similar. It’s tilted on its axis at about the same angle as Earth, too, so the pattern of the seasons is similar to our own as well. And Mars has a thin atmosphere, which adds clouds and a bit of color to the sky.

In other ways, though, the two planets are quite different. On average, Mars is much colder than Earth, for example. The temperature seldom climbs above freezing, and then only for a little while. And the Martian “air” is so thin that explorers would always need a protective suit and a supply of oxygen to keep them going.

Perhaps the biggest difference, though, is gravity. Martian gravity is only about three-eights as strong as Earth’s. So a person who weighs 160 pounds on Earth would weigh just 60 pounds on Mars. Not only would that affect the way you walk, it would also cause a loss of muscle and bone — something you don’t have to worry about in any environment on Earth.

Look for Mars to the lower left of the Moon at first light tomorrow. The little planet looks like a bright orange star.

We’ll have more about the Moon and Mars tomorrow.

Script by Damond Benningfield

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