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What would life be like if humans lived on Mars?

Many scientists believe that it won't be too long before humans will be able to travel to Mars and live there. If this sounds exciting to you, there are a few things you might want to know before you pack your bags and head out on the first spaceplane bound for Mars!

1)Both days and years are longer on Mars than on Earth. On Mars, you'll get an extra half hour to sleep every morning since days are about 30 minutes longer. But you'll have to wait twice as long between birthdays! Years on Mars last 687 days compared to 365 days on Earth.

2)Before you leave Earth, be sure to pack a lot of soap and laundry detergent. Mars is often called the "Red Planet" because its looks red from space. The red color comes from a fine red dust that covers the planet and gets whirled around in giant dust storms that last for months at a time. You're definitely going to get dirty there!

3)Mars has some great scenery. While you're there, be sure to visit Olympus Mons, the biggest volcano in the entire solar system. Its base is big enough to cover Montana and the entire state of Rhode Island could fit in its crater! Another scenic bonus on Mars: two moons in the nighttime sky--Phobos and Deimos.

4)Mars is cold! The average temperature is about 120oF colder than on Earth. This is because Mars is farther from the Sun and doesn't receive as much solar heat as Earth. This extra distance will also make the Sun appear much smaller in the sky than it does from Earth. But don't let the smaller-looking Sun and cold temperatures fool you. Mars' atmosphere does not contain ozone (which protects us from the Sun) so you're much more likely to be severely sunburned on Mars than on Earth. Take a serious sunscreen with you--like SPF 1000!!

The cold temperatures might also cause you to think that the white flakes falling from the sky are snowflakes. But they're actually crystals of frozen carbon dioxide (also known as "dry ice"). In fact, Mars' atmosphere is mostly carbon dioxide, so I guess you'll want to take along plenty of oxygen, too!

Submitted by Sarah (Ontario, Canada)
(September 29, 1997)

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA