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ACTIVITY

Your Age on Mars


Try This!

  • Type your birth date in the space provided below. Note that the year must be a 4-digit number. Then click the "Calculate" button.
  • Look at the information that appears under the image of Mars. Note that the date given for your next birthday is an "Earth date."

Birth date
MM DD YYYY
MARS

Your age is
 Martian days
 Martian years

Next Birthday 

What's Going On?

The Length of a Day   Measured from noon to noon, a day on any planet is the time it takes for the planet to rotate once on its axis relative to the sun. Earth, of course, rotates once every 24 hours. A martian day, called a sol, is 24 hours, 39 minutes, and 35 seconds long—very close to Earth's rate of spin. That's just a coincidence, though. Planets spin at wildly different rates, from speedy Jupiter, which rotates every 10 earth hours, to sluggish Venus, which only spins once every 243 earth days.

The Length of a Year   A year is the time it takes for a planet to make one revolution around the sun. A martian year is 687 earth days or 669 sols—almost twice our 365-day year. If you're 25 years old on Earth, you'd barely be a teenager on Mars.

Martian Year
Image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech

Mars is, on average, about 50 million miles (80.5 km) farther from the sun than Earth is. And the farther a planet is from the sun, the longer its year. The lengths of planetary years are governed by precise rules. Johannes Kepler (1571–1630) discovered the relationship between the length of the year and the radius of the orbit that applied to all planets, but it took Isaac Newton (1642–1727) to explain this pattern.

As a planet travels in its almost circular orbit, it's continuously accelerating toward the sun. This is due to the gravitational attraction between the sun and the planet, which is stronger the closer they are to each other. But the stronger the pull of gravity, the greater the planet's acceleration, which results in the planet's revolving at a higher speed. This is a good thing—it's what's necessary to keep the planet in its orbit, falling around the sun instead of plunging into it. So the inner planets are compelled to rush around their orbits, while the outer planets revolve around the sun at a leisurely pace.

Going Further
Scientists involved with the robotic exploration of Mars need to know martian time so they can plan a rover's activities to take place during the martian day. So of course they use a Mars clock. You can download NASA's Mars24 Sunclock to see local martian time for yourself.

If you'd like to know the time at the rover Curiosity's landing site, get the free app Mars Clock Lite from the iTunes store. Android users can get the free app MarsTime to see the local time at various Mars locations.

Want to know what your age would be on some other planets? Visit Your Age on Other Worlds.