Vive la différence…
While there are a few noticeable differences between Marseille, France on Earth and Gale Crater on Mars, such as one having MUCH better coffee than the other, there is one thing the two locations have in common – stunning sunsets!
The image on the left was taken in May of 2012 by Damia Bouic, and the image on the right was taken in April 2015 by NASA’s Curiosity Rover. The two images were scaled to have the same angular width, and one striking difference between the two is color. On Mars at sunset and sunrise the sky is pinkish-red in color and appears blue in the area of the setting or rising sun. In Marseille, and on Earth in general, we have the opposite of that situation. Our skies appear blue at sunrise and sunset with the area of the setting or rising sun typically appearing orange.
Us humans don’t yet fully understand the reason for the blue hues of Mars, but we think it is related to the forward scattering properties of Martian dust. Oh, and it should be noted that during the day, quite unlike Marseille, the Martian sky is a very uninviting yellow-brown butterscotch color. (This added to the lack of Mediterranean beaches, lack of museums, lack of restaurants, and an abundance of toxic air and extreme amounts of ultraviolet radiation, leads me to think of Marseille as being a much better vacation destination.)
Another noticeable difference in the two above sunsets is the appearance of the size of the Sun itself. Mars is 50% farther from the Sun than Earth. (This should be kept in mind when making travel arrangements. While from my location on Earth a flight to Marseille would take about 15 hours, give or take, and is sure to involve at least one antsy, restless, 7 year old seated directly in front of me, a ‘flight’ to Mars would take about 6 or 7 months using current chemical propulsion methods. Also worth mentioning, providing I survived the flight as well as my stay on planet, arranging a return trip ticket would be a royal bitch. )
Above image credit: Damia Bouic/NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS via Astronomy Picture Of The Day
Mars sky at noon, June 1999, imaged by NASA’s Mars Pathfinder.
Mars sky at sunset, May 2005, imaged by NASA’s Spirit rover.
Mars sky at sunset, February 2013, imaged by NASA’s Curiosity rover. (Simulated position of the Sun.)