Ben Langhinrichs

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Development of a Mars standard

Mon 5 Jan 2004, 07:49 AM

by Ben Langhinrichs
In reading this article on CNN, mention is made of Mars time, and even watches the scientists wear which keep Mars time.  Now, with the incessant talk about the importance of "standards" at IBM and in the general IT community, I was curious how a standard Mars time had been developed such that one could develop a watch based on the time.  Of the many things we measure, time is both one of the most standard across the world and one of the few that is decidedly not metric.  This is due to its particular association with some (basically) fixed external rhythms, namely the rotation of the Earth, the rotation of the Moon (capitalized to emphasize that it is our moon, not just any moon) around the Earth, the rotation of the Earth around the Sun (see previous parenthetical comment), etc.

So, if we want to develop a standard for Mars, do use our cycles, or their cycles?  It is pretty obvious what a day should be (on Mars, they refer to it as a sol instead of a day, for clarity's sake), and even a year, but what is the length of a month when you have two moons?
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Anyway, here is a relatively accessible discussion of Mars time, and a somewhat accessible discussion of Mars time, and, finally, a almost inaccessible discussion of Mars time for you total astro-geeks.  I particularly like the discussion in the first link on the social determination of standards.

Copyright 2004 Genii Software Ltd.

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