This text is an intellectual property of Vinicio Coletti, Rome, Italy.
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I read on a Nasa note by Michael Allison and Robert Schmunk that a Mars mean solar day (sol) lasts 24 hours 39 minutes 35.244 seconds and that a Mars tropic year lasts 668.5921 sol.
Of course it’s better not to change the
definition of the second, which is the standard reference time. In the first version of my calendar
I did not change the concepts of minute and hour, so that
Mars watches would have the same clock of terrestrial ones,
but they should have an internal millisecond computing and should reset
to 00:00:00.000 after indicating 24:39:35.243.
This is practical for science and events, but peculiar times such as midnight and noon would have rather strange values. Thus, in v0.91 of my program I let the user decide among three different ways of telling time on Mars:
The purpose of all calendars is to define a year made of an integral number of days, although the revolution of a planet around the sun lasts usually a fractional number of days. All that without shifting astronomical references (equinoxes etc.) for very long periods. In Earth calendar we add a day every 4 years, but not every 100 years, unless the year is a multiple of 400. This gives a mean duration of the year very close to the real, fractional one.
About Mars, we must deal with the tropical year
duration of 668.5921 sol. Since this number is not
close to an integral number but almost halfway, the first decision about this calendar is:
Of course this will give a mean duration of 668.5 sol, already quite close to the real duration.
To come more close, we introduce leap years lasting one more sol and happening every eleven years. This actually defines a 22 year cycle, because:
To reach a greater precision we will simply add a long term leap year every 850 Martian years (1). This will give a mean duration of 668,5921 sol, with an error less than 0,01% or a shift of 1 sol in more than 10,000 Martian years (more than 18,000 Earth years). This is as good, or even better, than the Gregorian calendar we currently use on our planet.Years will last at most 670 sol, except every 9350 years (1), when both leap years will coincide and the year will last 671 sol. The year will be divided in 12 months and every month will last either 55 or 56 sol. To avoid months longer than 56 sol, the three additions regarding even years, leap years and long term leap years will happen on three different 55-sol months.
Each month will be divided in weeks, each formed by 7 sol. Thus the 56-sol months will be formed by exactly 8 weeks. Months could be named as usual but to avoid confusion with the terrestrial calendar, they could also have different names. I propose to call them with the Latin terms for First, Second, Third, etc. The table below summarize these concepts.
About weeks, we could use the current weekday names or use new ones. I propose the following names. Weeks start with the equivalent of our Monday and finish with the two weekend sol.
The names are given thinking to an imaginary trip from Mars to the Sun, starting from Mars moons, through Earth and its moon, Venus and Mercury.
Every calendar needs also a starting date, so
we must establish what earth date and time (UTC) is equivalent to 00:00:00.000
of Phobosol Primus 1th, of the Martian year 1.
Symbolic dates could be that of the first arrival of a probe around Mars or that of the first landing of a probe, but I agree with the Allison and Schmunk proposal to select a date well before any detailed observation of the planet. This way all past scientific observations of Mars could be expressed in terms of the Mars calendar.
Thus, I adopt for this calendar the starting date proposed by Allison and Schmunk: December 29, 1873 at 00:00 UTC, corresponding to Julian day 2405522.0
(1) Note: on first version of this calendar (March 25, 2004) I proposed a long term leap year every 840 Martian years, but, since it's only important that a day be added in the 22 year cycle ending with year 858, I changed the long term leap year to year 850, because this number looks more round.
This Mars Calendar is proposed by
First published on March 25, 2004 in my site:
Last updated on April 2, 2004