One Family Lived on Mars Time for a Month

While a Martian day is only 39 minutes and 35 seconds longer than an Earth day, the differences quickly add up

Curiosity lifts off for Mars. Photo: Vietnam Student Astronomy Club

As if trying to coordinate between Pacific Standard Time and Eastern Standard Time isn’t challenging enough, one family decided to live on Mars time for the first month of the Curiosity rover’s stint on the red planet, the Los Angeles Times reports.

David Oh, a jet propulsion engineer on NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission, needed to sync up with Mars time for his job. While a Martian day is only 39 minutes and 35 seconds longer than an Earth day, those minutes quickly add up and decouple the Mars day from the Earth day. Scientists working on a Mars schedule tend to disappear from their families as the days grow more and more disjointed, so Oh’s wife, two sons and daughter decided to join him on Mars time for the first month of Curiosity’s 90-day stint there. The Oh family said they found creative ways to convince their bodies to comply with Mars time, including watching meteor showers and making 4 a.m. trips to the bowling alley.

The experiment was a success, as Oh told the Times:

The kids have asked when we get to do it again.  I had to tell them it was, for our family, probably a once in a lifetime opportunity. But I also told them that are the only kids who have ever done Mars time. They have something to remember and something to be proud of.

The whole family really came together on Mars time, and I think that the effects lasted for many weeks afterwards.

At the end of Oh’s full 90 days on Mars time, however, he noted, “I think my wife definitely ready for me to come back to Earth.”

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