For those experiencing symptoms of motion sickness in VR, it’s now possible to step inside a real-life simulation of what it could be like to ski on mars. Last week, desert dust from North Africa hit the pistes in Eastern Europe, covering the lush white landscape in eerie orange snow. "We're skiing on Mars today," exclaimed one social media user as he skied down the slopes. This makes us wonder: Do we still have genuine experiences at all, or are we living in a society of simulations?
For many, Hollywood is the primary source to imagine life - and life on mars. However, last week the idyllic views of the snow landscapes from the pistes of Eastern Europe have taken a rather martian tint. While a 'red planet' is still a few shades away, this orange landscapes are enough ink to spark the association: these people are 'skiing on Mars'.
The colour, obviously, did not come from Mars, but it did travel a baffling distance. The snow is likely painted orange by high concentrations of sand, dust and pollen travelling from North Africa. Steven Keates, a weather forecaster at the UK’s Met Office, explains,“As the sand gets lifted to the upper levels of the atmosphere, it gets distributed elsewhere [...] Looking at satellite imagery from Nasa, it shows a lot of sand and dust in the atmosphere drifting across the Mediterranean.”
These sands may travel the greatest distances in the atmosphere before depositing down as precipitation. But make no mistake, every so often Europe may experience sandy rains from desert dust as well.
Yet, the orange landscape is a natural phenomenon, occurring every other 5 years. At current, it may be too soon to speculate upon whether human induced processes have altered this event into a slightly more next-natural-phenomenon, but hey, we're skiing on Mars now.