Why Mars needs leap days, too

Shannon Hall | New York Times
Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Read the full story at the New York Times.

Earth takes 365.2422 days (full spins around its axis) to make a full trip around the sun (a calendar year). If we just used 365 days, our calendar would be out of sync with the seasons. “'It’s like being a quarter of a day behind at the end of every workday,' said Richard Binzel, a planetary scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 'After four days, you would need one full day to catch up on all your work. It’s the same for the Earth’s orbit and the calendar.'” That's why Earth's calendar uses a leap day every four years. However, as Professor Rick Binzel tells the NYT, other planets like Mars, Venus and Jupiter require calendars that are much more complicated. “'On Jupiter, it would be hopeless,' Dr. Binzel said. 'It’s a gas planet and different latitudes have different rotation periods. I think the Jovians would find themselves very confused.'”

Story Image: A sunset on Mars on the 145th Martian day, or sol, of the Insight lander’s mission. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)