SciencePunk

Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and NPR both have features on watchmaker Garo Anserlian, who designed a special watch that keeps time with Martian solar days. ┬áSnip:

The martian day is longer than Earth’s, but this minimal variance can amount to physical and mental fatigue. Every day, team members are reporting to work 39 minutes later than the previous day.

“Everything on this mission is based on local solar time on Mars,” said Julie Townsend, Mars Exploration Rover avionics systems engineer. “From home, during the mission practice tests, it was very difficult to constantly translate Earth time to Mars time.”

Townsend and her co-worker Scott Doudrick, a systems engineer on the project, set out to find a solution for this otherwordly problem. The pair began to ask watchmakers to tackle the challenge but each one turned them away, saying that it couldn’t be done unless they placed a large order (10,000 plus) for quartz-controlled watches; they insisted that attempting to convert mechanical watches was not possible.

Thankfully Anserlian proved the doubters wrong, and his Mars watches now helps Nasa scientists keep track of their distant rovers.

Thanks Brendon for the tip!

Comments

  1. #1 Jon Jones
    July 24, 2012

    I’m not seeing how this is news worthy. You can build a quartz watch from a kit at Radio shack, the control in the kit is easily manipulated via pc. You just have to break your day into equal parts and create a new dial, set the watch hands to move according to the new dial via the same pc and BOOM!

  2. #2 Frank Swain
    July 24, 2012

    It’s not quartz-controlled – entirely mechanical.

  3. #3 Brendon
    July 24, 2012

    If we ever do set up a colony on Mars – where would be the equivalent of GMT? (Greenwich Mars Time)

  4. #4 Frank Swain
    July 24, 2012

    Good question – will put it to the hivemind.

  5. #5 Frank Swain
    July 24, 2012

    Ah, found: The prime meridian is marked by a crater called Airy-0: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Airy-0

  6. #6 Brendon
    July 25, 2012

    Fantastic! Thanks hivemind, thanks.
    So, considering the Airy connection, it will be Greenwich Mars Time after all.

  7. #7 Jockaira
    July 25, 2012

    What’s the big deal? I’ve had and seen many mechanical watches and clocks that have adjustments that allow the actions to speed up or slow down, many capable of being adjusting to as much as 25 or 26 hours in a day.

    I recall (from my youth) a General Electric clock that reposed atop our icebox. It had a small incremented lever in the rear that allowed adjustments. To the consternation of my mother, I set the clock to reflect the days on Mars. She thought that the clock was no good until I explained to her what I had done. It took less than a minute to reset the clock to Earth-time.

  8. #8 Jockaira
    July 25, 2012

    Addendum to above: Many mechanical pocket watches and wrist-watches of the past included an adjustment feature that compensated for wear while allowing the user to set his clock for accuracy.

    If your watch was running fast or slow, resetting it to the correct time at least once each day “programmed” the mechanism to speed up or slow down. The user would know when the proper adjustment had been made when the watch kept accurate time. This process of periodic resetting usually caused the watch to keep correct time after a week or two of resetting.

  9. #9 Jimmy Dean
    East Coast
    July 26, 2012

    Yes watches have that feature but that is only a fine adjustment not for running at “Mar solar time” which is 24 hours, 39 minutes, and 35.244 seconds.(Wiki)

  10. #10 Vonskippy
    July 27, 2012

    What a waste of money, a custom made mechanical watch running Mars time. Way easier to take an existing digital watch and reprogram it. The so called “system engineers” that wasted Nasa’s money on this search should be fired on the spot, and all their work carefully checked if this is an example of how they solve the simplest of problems.

  11. #11 Seth Simon
    Brownwood, Brown County, TX, USA, North America, Earth, ...
    August 10, 2012

    Surely there is an iphone app for this.