We take a look at a little-reported discovery made by NASA’s rover during its 2000 days on Mars.
It was reported recently that Curiosity, NASA’s car-sized rover, had already spent 2000 days exploring Mars since its landing on 6 August 2012. Details of the mission may be found here:
Mars is further from the sun than Earth and is therefore cooler, but there has always been speculation that there may have been life on Mars in the distant past. So it came as no surprise when it was reported that Curiosity had discovered signs of an ancient civilisation. Furthermore, artefacts unearthed by Curiosity showed that the Martians used measurements of length and distance that appeared to be based on their own body dimensions. For example, for distance there was a unit that might have been close a Martian step, akin to our yard, and for shorter measurements there appeared to be units based on the Martian foot, hand and thumb.
Recently, it has been suggested that Mars may be the best hope for survival of the human race should we make Earth uninhabitable. Some may be reassured that a ready-made measurement system will be waiting for them when they get there.
ps. Readers of ‘Radio Times’ may have seen an article by Eddie Mair on page 125 of last week’s edition, 24 to 30 March, entitled, “A ounce of sense”. He describes Britain’s measurement muddle in the 1970’s and now. Not so much ‘Plus ca change’, more ‘Toujours la meme chose’. An amusing read, so if you missed it and the magazine is now in your recycling bin, you may wish to retrieve it.