NASA scientists have a need to monitor the time on Mars in order to manage Opportunity and Curiosity which are roaming on Mars right now. So, how does it do that? Well it has now created a Java App (link), which gives the Mars time and also where it is day and where it is night on the Red planet. The App is available for Mac OS X, Windows and Linux for free.
NASA has produced a free Java application called Mars24 that provides the exact times for a number of places on the Red Planet, including the current location of Opportunity (a.k.a. MER, the Mars Exploration Rover ), Curiosity (a.k.a. MSL, the Mars Science Laboratory) and even the immobile Viking 1 lander, which has been out of operation since 1982. You can also alter the settings to see the time at given Martian landmarks, such as Olympus Mons, the tallest mountain on any planet in the Solar System.
The app also includes a visual representation of Mars called a sunclock, which shows a map of which parts of the planet are currently light and dark.
Well there is one catch though – the Martian day is longer than Earth’s 24 hours, but the scientists are using the convention of 24 hours with some adjustments.
One technical aspect to note is that although a Martian day is actually longer than 24 hours, the convention is still to express the time there in terms of a 24 hour period for convenience. To do so, scientists simply divide the actual duration of a Martian day by 24 to calculate the length of a Martian hour, and divide that by 60 for the length of a Martian minute, and so on. So a Martian hour is slightly longer than an Earth hour, and a Martian minute slightly longer than an Earth minute.
So, what the day’s hours cannot adjust is pushed on to every minute of the Martian calendar. Ingenious 🙂
Image Credit: Wikipedia