Did you know that Mars has polar ice caps just like we do here on Earth? With the right technology, they might be our water source should we ever move to the red planet.
But in their current state, these caps could be a source for extreme interplanetary sport. Want to ski on snow unlike anything else in the Universe?
Want to test your skills on the biggest mountain in the Solar System? Bring your ’80s snowsuit if you must, just be sure to pack a good helmet.
Even though Mars is much smaller and much colder than our planet, its abundance of water ice makes it a compelling option for life on another planet. And with the concept of a future Mars colony gaining popularity, homes on the red planet might soon be on the market.
If we do end up living on Mars someday, what would we do for fun? Technology will have advanced, so there’ll be a lot on offer. But what about the classics? Like enjoying the great outdoors?
Could we go skiing on Mars? Lucky for you, Mars is home to the highest mountain in our Solar System.
Olympus Mons is a shield volcano that’s 21,000 meters (69,000 ft.) tall. That’s more than 4-times higher than the highest ski slopes on Earth.
But if you call yourself a black diamond devil, then this isn’t the hill for you. It turns out, Olympus Mons is more boring than the bunny hill.
It has an average slope of just 5 degrees. And considering that Martian gravity is just one-third of what we experience here on Earth, it might take you a while to get started.
On the flip side, because of that weak gravity, you could jump three times as high. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We haven’t even started moving yet!
With an average temperature of -60°C (-80°F), it’s definitely cold enough to snow on Mars. But considering its dry, low-pressure atmosphere, snow barely reaches its surface, and never stays for very long.
That said, Mars does have two poles that consist of water ice and carbon dioxide, which in solid form is dry ice. And at Mars’ south pole, there’s a dry ice deposit that’s 1000 meters (3281 ft.) deep.
But before you give it a go, note that the friction from your skis will heat up the dry ice, and turn it into a gas, causing you to lose control.
If you really wanted to, you could try your luck on the water ice but its density brings it closer to the ice skating conditions you’d find on Earth. So why use a flat ski, when you could go further with a sharp blade?
Then again, there’s more than one way to ski, so if you’re that determined to make this work, then just slap-on some hard wax and take things cross-country. Whichever style you choose, it’s a double-edged sword.
Shorter and thinner skis are your best bet for reaching fun speeds, but they’re also going to have to support your clunky space boots. And if you don’t get the balance right…
Well, you had a good run. So while you could go skiing on Mars, the risks are probably not worth the reward. Maybe stick to something safer like walking or a round of golf.
- “Snow Falls On Mars In The Summer”. 2017. news.nationalgeographic.com. Accessed May 9 2019.
- “NASA – Sibling Rivalry: A Mars/Earth Comparison “. 2019. nasa.gov. Accessed May 9 2019.
- “Why There Could Be Snow On Mars This Christmas”. 2018. Inverse. Accessed May 9 2019.
- “Mars Facts: Interesting Facts About Planet Mars • The Planets”. The Planets. Accessed May 9 2019.
- “What Is The Temperature Of Mars?”. Sharp, Tim. 2017 space.com. Accessed May 9 2019.
- “Dry Ice Snowfall At The Poles Of Mars”. 2019. planetary.org. Accessed May 9 2019.
- “Martina Dry Ice Skiing: Sport In Space Senior Investigation Winner”. 2019. atnf.csiro.au. Accessed May 9 2019.