On this day in 1965 the Mariner 4 mission made its closest approach to Mars.

It was the first time humans had taken photos of another planet from space.

We’ve been exploring the Red Planet ever since, always remotely, with rovers and other craft.

But there’s always a hope that people will eventually get to Mars in person.

Of course we have a lot of issues to sort out before we can safely send humans to Mars.

Like this one: how does the way we tell time change when we have humans on more than one planet?

There was an essay on the site Interconnected earlier this year.

It notes that our whole system of times and dates is based on being on Earth.

Our calendar has 365 days, because that’s close to one trip for the Earth around the sun, and our clock has 24 hours because that’s about the length of a day on this planet.

But Mars’s orbit takes 687 days, and a day on Mars, called a sol, is almost 25 hours long.

The people who’ve helped Mars rovers do their work have come up with a few ideas.

One of them was creating a set of special watches that measure the length of a Martian sol, but translate that into the time terms we use on Earth.

The workers would adjust their work days on this planet to match the time on Mars.

It also meant they’d wear a second, standard Earth watch, and hopefully not mix up which was which.

Of course, this was back before smartphones, so would engineers set it up so that Martian travelers have their smartphones automatically switch from Earth time to Mars time?

Or would we go back to watches? Or use some other system of measuring times and dates?

This is complicated, mindbending stuff.

But on the plus side, it’s going to be a while before anybody even tries to go to Mars, so we’ve got time to figure this out.

Today in Boulder, Colorado, it’s Tube To Work Day.

Participants can commute to their jobs by innertubing through Boulder Creek.

But before they do, they can gather together for breakfast, coffee, and a true Friday morning tradition: a DJ dance party.

A meander through Martian minutes and the meaning of local time (Interconnected)

Tube To Work Day

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Photo by NASA via Flickr