This document is part of the Martian Time Boneyard. It was originally located at http://www.i5ive.com/article.cfm/science_for_kids/30172.
Author: Debbie St. Germain

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Christmas on Mars

Author: Debbie St.Germain
Published on: December 14, 1999

Related Subject(s): Not Indexed

Christmas, and the holiday season in general, has different meanings for different people. What if you did not live on earth, but on Mars? The holidays might take on a whole new meaning with new traditions if you spent Christmas on Mars. alien santa

Mars has been known by many names. The Babylonians called Mars Nergal, meaning "the great hero," while the Greeks used the name Ares after the god of war. It was the Romans who gave it its present name of Mars.

Many people developed their own myths and legends surrounding the red planet, but it was Percival Lowell who captured the imagination of the public when he published his book "Mars as the Abode of Life." We now know most of his theories were wrong, but his book sparked the imagination of both the scientific community and science fiction writers.

What would a winter on Mars be like? The weather on Mars might make you think it's winter all year long, but Mars, like Earth, has four seasons. Well, it would certainly be colder then the North or South Poles in winter on Earth. In winter Mars's temperatures often fall below -180 degrees Fahrenheit. Considering that our freezing point is 32 degrees Fahrenheit, you can imagine how cold that would be.

There is a difference, though, between the cold snow we have on earth and the cold snow on Mars. Our snow and ice are made from frozen water. Mars does not have water; the ice on Mars is made of carbon dioxide, a product that we call dry ice. In the winter large clouds form over the surface of Mars. When this happens, the carbon dioxide condenses from the atmosphere and makes an instant ice patch on the surface. Unless you like spinning in circles, ice skating might be a sport you couldn't enjoy on Mars. Sledding would be out, too. So, even though Mars is cold enough, there is not enough moisture in the atmosphere to produce a significant amount of snow.

What would the holidays be like, if you lived on Mars ? First of all, when would you celebrate Christmas? Mars has 687 days to our 365 days, so would you go by the Earth's or Mars's calendar. Would you celebrate Christmas about once every two years or twice a year -- Mars time, that is?

Another difference is that you would have to give up your snowsuit for a space suit if you wanted to go on the surface of Mars. Mars's atmosphere is very thin compared to ours; and even if it were thicker, you could not breath the air, since it is only composed of 1.6% oxygen. Mars's atmosphere is 95% carbon dioxide, which is the waste product we exhale, not what we want to breathe.

Something I enjoyed doing when I was younger was to go Christmas caroling in our neighborhood. Who would your Martian neighbors be? To date, no life as we know it exists on Mars, so you may be singing to ancient bacterial fossils. I wonder if they would appreciate our traditional Christmas carols or perhaps a modified version. Perhaps something like: "Dashing through the dust in a two-man Red Rover," or "Chestnuts roasting on a holographic fire," or "I'm dreaming of a red Christmas," or "Flying around the Christmas tree," or "Let it dust, let it dust, let it dust."

Spending Christmas on Mars might sound like something from a science fiction novel, but scientists are working on ways to live on Mars. Over the next ten years, NASA will be launching robotic spacecraft in preparation for a possible human expedition in the year 2020.

Be a Part of Mars Now!
Red Rover Goes to Mars You can participate in a real Mars mission. Join students worldwide to help operate a real NASA rover and science instruments on Mars!

The Mars Millenium Project The Mars Millennium Project challenges students across the nation to design a community yet to be imagined - for the planet Mars. Create your own virtual Martian community or chat and interact with other students around the world.

The Planetary Society The Planetary Society, in cooperation with the Mars Environmental Compatibility Assessment (MECA) science team on NASA’s Mars Surveyor 2001 Lander, wants to take a student-designed experiment to the Red Planet. This will be the first student-designed experiment going to Mars, and it could be yours! The contest is over, but you can see what other students have done and what experiment made the winning entry. This would make a fun science project or classroom activity, as well.

For Younger Space Explorers
Mars Madness Take a journey to Mars and explore its history, terrain, weather, and more. Fun activities and lesson plans.

Santa alien .gif courtesy of Clipart Download

Quizville link My new site: Quizville Fun quizzes to help in school, games, study tips, research, and a special section for younger students. If you would like to see a topic covered, mail me, and I will make up a quiz to help you learn or study for that next exam.

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