I understand that a Sol is a Martian day, a little longer than a day on Earth (... 30 minutes I think?) and there are 24 months using the Darian calendar. So if people lived on Mars, what is a casual way of keeping time on it?

  • $\begingroup$ Welcome Charlie, when you have a moment please visit the help center and take the tour. hope you have fun here. $\endgroup$ – EveryBitHelps May 16 '18 at 21:27
  • $\begingroup$ Relevant: astronomy.stackexchange.com/q/19333/1042 $\endgroup$ – Renan May 16 '18 at 21:28
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    $\begingroup$ A Sol is a name used to denote a solar day on the specific planet or satellite of interest, whichever that may be. It's not specific to Mars. People actually living on Mars would call a solar day simply a day. $\endgroup$ – AlexP May 16 '18 at 21:30
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    $\begingroup$ Possible duplicate of How would Martian and Earth societies synchronize themselves regarding time? $\endgroup$ – Mołot May 16 '18 at 21:34
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    $\begingroup$ Reminder to close-voters: The problem cannot be fixed if the OP is not made aware of it. @Mołot That question asks for time synchronization; this one does not. I do not see these as duplicates. Off-topic voters: Developing a time system is not off-topic; if you think the question was ill-researched, downvote and move on. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre May 16 '18 at 21:54

An answer to your question depends strongly on whether those Martians were colonists from Earth and retained close ties or not and to what extent they spent time on the surface of Mars.

If they did not retain close ties, then their timekeeping would be based mostly on the Martian day and Martian year. (They'd still use the Earth-derived second because changing that would be such a pain for technology, and there's no real reason to change it.)

Assuming that they interacted with the Martian outside -- like working outside or living under transparent domes -- they'd probably want to synch their day to the sol. The Martian year would also probably be important to them (though they would keep on tracking Earth years also), but weeks and months would be no more connected to anything Martian than they are connected to anything terrestrial here on Earth.

My guess is that they'd have the Earth second, Earth minutes and hours (simple multiples of seconds), and a "Martian time slip" added during the night to make up the sol. They would almost certainly keep a week of seven sols just out of habit. Months could go either way: twelve longer months, 24 months about the same length as ours or something else. Unless they went through some sort of revolution where they deliberately cut themselves off from earth, they'd certainly also keep track of things such as ages in Earth-years, since there's so much cultural stuff in Earth years: Terrible Twos, Sweet Sixteen, Three score and ten, Centenarian, etc.

If they lived underground and hardly saw the surface, they'd probably stick with Earth time and have an app to tell them what the Martian day and season is.

If they remained part of a unified culture with Earth, they'd endlessly juggle things: They'd use Earth time, and the sol for the day, and probably use seven sols for the week, but longer periods would probably be Earth-based recording Earth years and maybe even Earth dates for anything official. There'd be apps for that!

And bright kids would become endlessly fascinated with all the lovely complexity. (While adults would curse it, and murder mysteries would be solved by Syaloch pointing out that the miscreant confused an Earth date with the similar Martian date.)

  • $\begingroup$ Wow thank you so much for the answer, you really opened my eyes and put things into perspective. In my novel, they have actually cut themselves off from Earth and other celestial bodies. I think I'll combine that with a time slip that goes by in Earth minutes. Thanks a lot, Mark. $\endgroup$ – Charlie Kovas May 16 '18 at 22:05
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    $\begingroup$ Note that the second is not related (any more) to the Earth day. For fifty years, it's been defined as "exactly 9,192,631,770 times the period of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the cesium-133 atom." en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second#%22Atomic%22_second $\endgroup$ – RonJohn May 16 '18 at 22:28
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    $\begingroup$ Mars missions to date redefined the second and kept 24 hours. You can add 1 conversion factor, in the seconds, rather than redefining everything else. $\endgroup$ – user71659 May 16 '18 at 23:11
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    $\begingroup$ @user71659 specifically, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timekeeping_on_Mars#Time_of_day "A convention used by spacecraft lander projects to date has been to keep track of local solar time using a 24-hour "Mars clock" on which the hours, minutes and seconds are 2.7% longer than their standard (Earth) durations." $\endgroup$ – RonJohn May 16 '18 at 23:19

Use a clock that is set for local time. As soon as Mars was colonised these would be developed as a matter of course. Could program one myself without too much effort on my computer, and I'm not a developer.

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    $\begingroup$ "without too much effort" - just you wait for leap seconds! $\endgroup$ – Mołot May 16 '18 at 21:35
  • $\begingroup$ @Mołot I never said YOU wouldn't have much trouble doing it :-) $\endgroup$ – Kilisi May 16 '18 at 23:51
  • $\begingroup$ I am a developer, and quite experienced one, and I know I actually would have problems with leap seconds, if my clock would be supposed to really do it the right way. $\endgroup$ – Mołot May 17 '18 at 7:12
  • $\begingroup$ Lots of people's experience is pretty worthless... not saying yours is... just saying $\endgroup$ – Kilisi May 17 '18 at 9:49
  • $\begingroup$ My experience just lets me know how hard can it really be. Remember router crashes due to 2015 leap second? On Earth few minutes / few hours crash is no big deal. On Mars it might be more life threatening issue. $\endgroup$ – Mołot May 17 '18 at 9:56

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