Nasa's Perseverance has landed on Mars and I find myself thinking about surfing on Mars.
You know that's possible because it's likely that your Surf brain kicks more often than it should. When you find
yourself in places where there's water and your mind wanders to surfing possibilities. I do at least. Think a beach when
it's flat, a river, a pool, a puddle or your bath tub. Your mind goes "what would be needed to break a wave here and for
me to surf it".
But back to Mars. Nasa rover landed on Jezero crater that is thought to have been once a lake. And that was enough for
my Surf brain. Lake > water > waves > surfing. Were there waves on Mars?
It turns out that Mars had once an ocean 3.5 billion years ago and given the chance we would all have been big wave
surfers and aerialists. I'll explain. Researchers have studied waves on Mars to shed some light on its climate and that
gives us data to discuss surfing. The scientific research on the planet is phenomenal but I'll stick what's relevant
here. A few things to know:
- Waves depend on winds and winds depend on atmospheric pressure. Mars currently has 6 millibars of pressure (Earth is
1,000) and it's unknown how much it was billions of years ago but likely higher.
- Mars currently has winds in the range of 18 to 72km/h and the gravitational field is only 38% of Earth
How was the surf then?
- With an atmospheric pressure of 50 millibars it would have needed winds of 32.4 km/h to generate waves. Not a lot
- Waves would probably have shapes similar to earth
- Waves would move slower (lower force of gravity), half as fast than on Earth. Slower waves can build up to higher
- For the same wind conditions the waves on Mars would be twice as big as on Earth
That's enough to imagine what it could look like. Waves are easier to catch, bigger, longer rides (and barrels?) and
gravity is 38% making airs a lot easier. Ancient Mars surfing looks sick!! You can also tell your small wave
enthusiastic friend that he'd be a charger on Mars.
More importantly though, how would our boards behave on martian waves?
I'll leave the hard question to you and in the meantime a quote from one researcher of the study "it is fun to imagine
oneself sitting on the edge of a sea on Mars, watching these very slow but quite big waves slowly lapping up on shore,
even though the winds feel like they are barely ruffling your spacesuit".
If you'd like to explore further: