Happy New Year – from Mars. It’s always mind expanding to believe the passage of your time from other perspectives than those we are most aware of. So let’s celebrate that our slightly colder red cousin completed another spin the sun. The 36th Martian year began on February 7th, with a clear lack of fireworks or people singing Auld Lang Syne.
Despite the shortage of festivities on the planet’s surface (maybe Curiosity could play Auld Lang Syne to itself?), the planet’s friends at ESA put together a bulleted list of some fun facts about the Martian year. Here are some highlights.
Mars is opposite the Sun every 26 months in our nighttime sky and this type of opposition event has occurred with Sun 7 times. Each of the seven Hubble opposition observations shows the color composite has been assembled during this mosaic to showcase the wonder and splendour that’s the Mars. Mars pictures the mosaic of all seven globes over the years of relative variations within the apparent angular size of Mars. Mars was closest to earth of about 56 million kilometres in 2003. A part of Mars that’s tilted towards the world also shifts over time, leading to the changing visibility of the polar caps. Clouds and mud storms, also because the size of the ice caps, can change the looks of Mars on time scales of days, weeks, and months. Other features of Mars, like a number of the massive dark markings, have remained unchanged for hundreds of years.
Year 36 may appear a touch young, supported the very fact that the earth may be a few billion years old. that’s because humans, with our anthropomorphic inclinations, decided arbitrarily to start out counting Martian years within the human year 1955. annually takes about 687 Earth days, leading us to the 36th Martian year beginning this month.
An important question is at what point in Mars’ spin the sun does its year actually start? Astronomers have decided that the northern equinox marks the beginning of a replacement Martian year. now is that the beginning of spring within the hemisphere and autumn within the southern. That a minimum of makes more sense than the arbitrary date slightly after the start of winter that our species has picked for a minimum of most of Earth’s occident to start a replacement year.
The choice of that date could be partly thanks to another fun fact about Mars’ year – it’s seasons aren’t all an equivalent length. Mars features a highly elliptical orbit compared to Earth, meaning that its northern hemisphere’s spring (194 days) is far longer than its autumn (142 days). This path has predictably large impacts on the weather of the Mars. Increases in luminosity when the sun is closer (during the southern hemisphere’s summer and spring) cause large dust storms that blanket the earth almost annually, like in Martian Year 1 with the aptly named “great windstorm of 1956”.
Those dust storms aren’t the sole annual weather events though – another interesting one is that the Arsia Mons Elongated Cloud, an 1800 km cloud of ice crystals which pops up for a minimum of 80 Martian days (“sols”) a year then disappears. Like many other features of Mars, it goes to point out how the earth is dynamic and changing, despite appearing to be just a ball of rock with barely any atmosphere.
As we learn more about our sometimes nearest neighbour, we’ll undoubtedly find more annual phenomena that happen there. But even now we will appreciate that point passes differently counting on how you check out it. If nothing else, you’ll tell your co-workers that you’re only 53% of your Earth age on Mars a minimum of.